Skaters have long been part of a closely guarded subculture notorious for its distaste for outsiders, but the surge of the skate clothing trend has changed that – at least a little. Most skaters have traditionally cared little for fashion, and those who did would look for inspiration anywhere but the catwalk. Slowly, that has begun to change, and skaters and designers have taken note of each other.
Designers have certainly embraced skater influences and while no one can say for sure where and how the skate clothing fashion trend originated, the increasing crossover of skaters into the modeling world has surely helped. One of the clear defining moments for skate-clothing style was the beautifully styled 2010 video called Man About Town, starring freestyle skater Kilian Martin showcasing his amazing skills and looking almost like a ballet dancer on his skateboard, all while sharply dressed. Around the same time, pro skateboarders like Alex Olson, Dylan Rieder, and Ben Nordberg were gaining attention in the fashion world. Rieder has modeled for DKNY, while Olson is also a photographer whose work has appeared in Vogue, and Nordberg is frequently snapped on the FROWS for brands like Burberry. In 2015 we saw our first truly strong example of skate clothing on the catwalk as Vetements’ Fall 2015 show included a fashion-ized version of Thrasher hoodies, proving that the skate clothing fashion trend was not out of place on the runway.
Ease and comfort
For women, skate-clothing style marks the turn from ultra-polished, feminine fashion to much more relaxed, streetwear-inspired designs. Many editors, buyers, and stylists embraced the trend, probably when they realized how much time this unfussy, minimalist style can save when getting ready to make your way from show to show. Fast forward to New York fashion Week 2016, sweatshirts have become the armor of choice for many of the industry’s most fashionable women.
Bermuda shorts, Dickies and long cut-offs have been iconic of both Southern California skaters, and mainstays at East Coast neighborhood skate parks. Skate clothing-street style has been adapted, however, for those who aren’t doing any actual skating, with brands offering styles for people with varying degrees of dedication to the trend. R13 denim has specific ‘skate styles’ designed for maximum comfort and movement while on your board. Other brands, like Neil Barrett, give a more subtle nod to the skate clothing trend with pieces like bold graphic tees, skinny jeans and checked long-sleeved shirts that wouldn’t be out of place in a skate park.
The skate clothing fashion trend has also made its way to footwear, much to the relief of anyone who has to be on their feet all day. Slip-on low-top sneakers, which used to be limited to brands like Puma and Vans, have been seriously upgraded at the hands of designers like Giuseppe Zanotti, Jil Sander, and Philipp Plein. Comfortable, yet ultra-stylish sneakers can now be worn instead of heels to Thursday night drinks and fancy Saturday brunches. Even Victoria Beckham, once the queen of mile-high stilettos, has been photographed in casual Stan Smiths, proving that comfort and fashion can coexist.
The Zephyr skate team (of Lords of Dogtown fame) wore their navy blue Vans as a uniform, but that was Venice, California in the ‘70s. Modern fans of the skate fashion trend are more likely to emulate the old-school style in a pair of Saint Laurent shoes. As a rule, skater clothing has always needed to be comfortable and designers are paying attention, offering fuss-free options in either slip-on styles or with minimal laces.
Keeping it real
While skate clothing on the catwalk has been gaining more attention, there are a few brands that stand out as the originals when it comes to the fashionable skate clothing. Names like, Bianca Chandon, Palace and Dime have had a lot of success with this style, and still satisfy their die-hard, bruised and bloodied skateboarder fan base. There are also some other truly classic brands having a moment in the sun thanks to fashion bloggers and the surge of skate clothing street-style. One such line is Carhartt, which offers comfortable basics in an array of skater-approved moody tones. They even sell their own skateboards.
The skate clothing trend represents a culture of dedicated, and often really cool, athletes, so it’s no wonder that it’s garnering interest from the fashion savvy, who are intrigued by this effortless, minimal style.