Skating, Fashion, and Authenticity

The New Yorker publishes a must read article about why everybody’s into skating.

To say that skate culture is having a moment in fashion would be a gross understatement. From the likes of Supreme and even Eidos, the casual cool of skate culture is an aspirational model for menswear guys and hypebeasts alike.

With the announcement of the Palace x Polo Ralph Lauren collaboration, it’s harder than ever to ignore – especially when everybody seems to be talking about it. But some of my favorite writings about the relationship between skating and fashion doesn’t come from menswear blogs or magazines. Instead, they come from lifestyle and culture publications that can take a step back from the hype and assess things more objectively. Unlike you and me, they’re not following Jonah Hill’s most fire fits or watching their credit card debts pile up.

Carrie Burton, motivated by recent films about 90s skate culture, wrote a fantastic essay in the New Yorker recently where she argued that the most attractive thing about skate culture is how it manages to retain a sense of authenticity (even when their are strong commercial incentives to sell out).

“What’s surprising about this year’s skate films is not their existence—Hollywood has always wanted a slice of the skating pie—but their authenticity” Burton writes.

“Fitting in with skateboarders means adopting an almost constitutional resistance to corny gestures. After all, skating, as a recreational act, is relentless, toilsome, boring—it requires a commitment to drudgery and community that quickly weeds out those with impure motives. In a sellout era, it may be one of the few remaining subcultures that has resisted being swallowed by commercial appropriation. When Vogue ran “Skate Week,” it received a thrashing from skate-world insiders: “I think Vogue is fucking dumb and knows nothing about skating, and their approach was ignorant and stupid,” one skater announced in an interview. The skating brand Supreme, though now one of the most prominent fashion forces of the past quarter-century, has retained its rigorous business model, opening only a handful of retail stores and selling its painstakingly curated items in small batches despite immense demand. It’s been rewarded for this commitment, while a brand like Zumiez—the cheap, corporate bugbear of skaters around the world—continues to attract ire.”

You can read the rest of Burton’s piece “The Flourishing of Skate Culture in a Sellout Era” here.

Cover photo via Glen Allsop

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