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The Beat #12: The Skate Issue

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

Topics: Tony Hawk, Dogtown & Z-Boys, Bones Brigade & the Evolution of Skate Fashion

Illustrations by Greg Chinn at The Local Brand Co.

Confession from Clay: I was a terrible skater. My ’88-ish G&S Billy Ruff board with its Vision Street Wear stickers shows hardly any wear, because all I could do was … cruise. Not even an ollie. The board is still in the basement of my mother’s house (serious offers only).

But, whether you skate, used to skate, collect decks as art or you just like Supreme, you know that skateboard culture has permeated pop culture. From the Zephyr team skaters of the ’70s through Tony Hawk on to Nyjah Huston and the other great street and bowl skaters of today, skateboarding culture falls somewhere between punk rock and surfing — a weird alchemy of laid-back and aggro, built for city streets, sun-drenched parks and drained suburban pools… around the world. 

From humble beginnings to a worldwide phenomenon, skateboarding is not only not a crime, it’s a tool for bringing people together, from Black skaters in Baltimore to girls in Kabul to the queer skate kids tearing up the streets of San Francisco.

Evolution of Skate Fashion Brands

Skate fashion was a thriving thing for decades before Supreme was doing collabs with Louis Vuitton and Stüssy was teaming with Marvel. It began simply, some Vans to grab the deck and whatever out of the laundry basket that smelled the least dirty. Over time, certain brands began to key in to that sweet spot for skaters — the place where function met cool.

In 1986, every kid in school had to have a Vision Street Wear t-shirt the way every kid has to have a Supreme shirt today. Vision Skateboards had serious cred for sponsoring Gator Rogowski and Mark Gonzales, and when they launched Vision Street Wear, they were off to the races. Stüssy was founded in the ’80s and became a huge driver in the culture, inspiring a host of designers, including the founders of east coast skate cool, Supreme… and I think we all know how that worked out. Skate fashion, street fashion and high fashion have influenced one another for decades, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be stopping any time soon.

Tony Hawk

Would Tony Hawk still be synonymous with skateboarding if he didn’t have video games named after him? Totally. Aside from being a world-class skater, Hawk was the perfect global ambassador for skateboarding — charismatic, chill and savvy. The Birdman, inventor of the 900, Hawk was mentored by the great Stacy Peralta in both skating and vision, and he’s largely responsible for bringing skateboarding to the mainstream. The Pro Skater series has produced some of the most loved (and least loved) video games out there. The Skatepark Project (formerly the Tony Hawk Foundation), has funded more than 600 skateparks across the US. Skateistan does the same in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa.

Dogtown & Z-Boys

This story goes back to 1976, when a scrappy crew of surfer/skaters created a skating branch of the Zephy Surf Team. Chris Cahill, Stacy Peralta, Tony Alva, Peggy Oki (the only girl of the crew), Jay Adams and Nathan Pratt were among the first Z-Boys, carving curbs and surf throughout Dogtown — southwest Santa Monica down to Pacific Ocean Park. Their surfing-influenced style was revolutionary for skateboarding and the rapidly made a name for themselves and transformed the sport forever. The documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys and the feature film Lords of Dogtown deliver a great one-two punch of telling the tale.

Bones Brigade

Stacy Peralta is really the glue of all our stories today. In 1978, the former Z-Boy and future Hawk mentor joined forces with George Powell to form Powell Peralta— arguablytheskate brand of the 1980s (they produced some of the dopest and most iconic decks of the decade). The Bones Brigade premiered in ’79. This was Powell Peralta’s team, which became a who’s-who of skating greats, including Hawk, Mike Vallely, Steve Caballero, Mike McGill and Ray Bones Rodriguez. Peralta’s Bones Brigade Video Show is the progenitor of today’s ubiquitous skate videos… just on VHS.


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