Skate style has been at the forefront of fashion for years now, and for good reason: There’s something about the carefree cool of the skate world, and insiders are more central than ever to the cultural zeitgeist. Look no further than pros like British Ben Nordberg who has been the face of Gucci and Fendi, or pink-haired Evan Mock who has done campaigns for Calvin Klein and Saint Laurent.
Skaters have been known to rock stylish silhouettes like tucked-in tees and baggy trousers long before they made their way onto the runways and lookbooks of major fashion designers, and in recent years the two worlds have collided in big ways. In 2018, Polo Ralph Lauren released a collection with British skate brand Palace, and a year later Louis Vuitton teamed up with the legendary Supreme to release a capsule of high-end tees, skate decks, and leather goods.
Authenticity is a word that gets thrown around with brands these days. When it comes to skate style, we’ve put together a list of the most influential clothing brands that have devoted their existence to living, breathing, and supporting their communities of pros. Most of the brands on this list were founded in the do-it-yourself era where local skate crews continue to produce their own gear. At the end of the day, the secret to pulling off skate wear is less about having brand-new gear and more about moving through the world with a carefree attitude.
Alltimers was founded by pros Rob Harris and Pryce Holmes in New York City. The duo clashes downtown skate culture with ironic extravagance as shown in their cocktail lounge-esque martini glass logo, a reference to the skate ethos of rebellious vitality. You’ll see essentials like snapbacks and parkas mixed with more playful pieces and paradoxical messaging, like a fine china box with “You Deserve It” written in script.
Shortly after turning pro and landing a handful of sponsorship contracts, Alex Olson launched his own clothing brand, Bianca Chandon, and skate company, Call Me 917, to fill a creative void in the market. Olson describes 917 as a core skate brand working with a selective, limited run of skate shops to keep the brand true to its misfit youth mystique roots. Bianca and 917’s tight knit team of pros and partners offers a glimpse of an insiders-only club, and equally, rocking a “Lover” piece is the ultimate IYKYK.
Brain Dead is a global creative collective of artists and designers whose disruptive approach comes from skateboarding, underground comics, and the spirit of subculture as a whole. You’ve likely seen the brand’s outlined logo and via various collaborations with the likes of Converse to French clothing brand A.P.C. Brain Dead offers skate essentials like tees, hoodies, and sneakers, and is best known for their hard-to-miss graphics.
Dime MTL emerged as one of the greats from the Montreal skate scene by way of pros Antoine Asselin and Phil Lavoie. The Dime Glory Challenge is infamous for its insane list of pro skaters from around the globe who annually compete in a series of “artfully curated challenges”. Their collections are more subtle classics than over-the-top graphics: think super clean twill jackets, terry crews, and Canadian necessity beanies. Dime continues to be one of the brands at the forefront of classic and cool.
Quartersnacks kicked off in 2005 as the holy grail for skaters in New York City: it released the best skate spots, shared highlight reels of local talent, and gave a rundown of the city’s skate scene. Over the past fifteen years, it has evolved into its own editorial empire and inevitably its own brand. While their merch is generally straightforward graphic hoodies, hats, and tees, each piece pays its own homage to the city Quartersnacks laid its roots.
Brendon Babenzien founded the Noah flagship store in Soho, New York, with a free-thinking vision at the heart of the local skate, surf, and music communities. While challenging partners and customers to actively engage with the world around them, Noah has collaborated with legends like Keith Haring, Earth Wind and Fire, and Vans. Rest assured, the stark navy and white logo and red cross are synonymous with quality and conviction.
Palace is a London-based skate shop and clothing brand founded by Levent Tanju in 2009. Lev and his squad, the Palace Wayward Boys Choir, heavily influenced the London and global skate scenes for years to come. While at its core Palace is a skate company, it has incorporated classic British references like tracksuits, shell suits, and windbreaker jackets into its DNA. The brand’s Penrose triangle logo was designed by legendary London illustrator Fergus “Fergadelic” Purcell and is an unmissable symbol in streetwear today.
Unlike most other American brands on this list, Polar got its start in Malmö, Sweden before emerging as a global skating superpower. Against the odds, founder Pontus Alv managed to evolve as one of the most respected and creative skaters from a town that didn’t have much of a skate scene and snowed for nearly half of each year. The brand’s signature nostalgic-inspired and oversized silhouettes like the “Karate Pants” and “Big Boi” jeans and tees have trickled down as streetwear trends elsewhere. Polar continues to be one of the brands setting the bar for sartorial skatewear.
If there is one brand that paved the way for skateboarding into the stylesphere, it is without a doubt Supreme. Founder James Jebbia opened the Supreme’s flagship store on Lafayette Street in New York in 1994 and hasn’t looked back since. Known for their Thursday drops, infamous lines around the block, the brand has collaborated with pop culture movers and shakers including Takashi Murakami, Damien Hirst and Louis Vuitton. Supreme’s red box logo has gone down as one of the most iconic branding plays: while often mimicked, it is never missed.
Vans started out in 1966 as brothers Paul and Jim Van Doren opened their doors as the Van Doren Rubber Company, uniquely manufacturing shoes in Anaheim, California and releasing them for sale the same day. Early 70s skaters were keen on deck shoes now known as The Authentic for their rugged canvas and trademarked sticky double rubber underlays that protect the longevity of each pair. Today, the brand’s iconic Old Skool and it’s signature side stripe can be seen equally in skateparks and in street style. For the past fifty five years, Vans has been synonymous with a laid-back, So-Cal style that has transcended the West Coast to an authentic global skate brand.
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