Man, 2013 was one swell ride for skateboarding. All sorts of crazy and classic shit went down, proving once again, that regardless of downturns in popularity, the board keeps on rolling. Though, I think it’s still pretty safe to say that skateboarding’s at an all time high in terms of marketability. It’s been everywhere from Fashion Week-related montages to issues of GQ and Playboy. That said, last year taught us a lot and now we’d like to jump into our analytical Dickies of what’s in store for the four wheels in 2014.
The Indies Will Continue To Rise
Skateboarding’s been DIY from the get. We’re talking from the Dogtown days to some of today’s more popular/lucrative skate companies. It’s always been about gathering the talent, fostering it, and capturing it for potential fans to peep. While mammoth skate companies like Plan B, Girl, and Chocolate used to run the gamut, the continued diffusion of skateboarding culture via completely democratic platforms like the Internet has fostered the rise of independent companies – or smaller fish – that can still compete in their own scope and following terms. A perfect example of these “indies” are the “Three P’s” (Palace, Politic, Polar) and Magenta. With Politic being the only US-based company, it’s pretty interesting to note how all the others are internationally making their mark on the scene.
London’s Palace has been killing it from across the pond. Headed by Lev Tanju, the company’s kept things super creative with intentionally (artistically) lo-fi videos, heavy dance/electronic music influence, and just all around funkiness. The brand also blew things up by collaborating with Reebok for the cheeky and intriguing vulcanized “Workout” skate shoe. They also sponsor New York City’s most-talked-about-in-the-streets skater, Shawn Powers. With a few more collaborations and tricks up their sleeves – including a Theo Parrish EP release and exhibition with artist Tate Britain – it’ll be hard to pinpoint what kind of trajectory is in store for 2014, but you can bet it’ll be hip as fuck.
Politic hails from Florida and they’ve kept it more than trill with their respective contribution to the indie skate game. The company just recently dropped its “Peoples Temple” video to a ton of praise. Sticking to their aesthetic guns with board designs and minimalist box logo works, plus a splash of good sounding and well-spliced together edits, they too have managed to capture the hearts of passionate and curious riders alike.
The last, but certainly not least, “P” in the trifecta is Pontus Alv’s Polar Skate Co. hailing all the way from Sweden. Mr. Alv’s got a history and reputation in DIY as he’s been a major source of inspiration and drive for his local skateboard scene. The dashing ripper, hip hop enthusiast, artist, and owner even linked up with Converse this year to drop Trocadéro Days, an artsy, black and white, compilation of amazing riding with friends.
And to round up the pack, French board company Magenta has steady been DESTROYING the game with nothing but gnarly skate videos, the most prominent being the Soleil Levant release featuring Far East firecracker Koichiro Uehara. They also ripped the fuck out of some classic San Francisco hills in their latest viral drop Old Woops New Groove.
Bigger Won’t Be Better
Right in line with our first prediction on the rise of the indie skate companies is the eventual fall of the bigger ones. 2013 proved to be a rattling one as a handful of big name riders either jumped ship or straight up bounced and started their own respective projects/companies. One of the bigger shakeups was the derailment of the Baker Boys squad, which gave the boot to longtime bromies Braydon Szafranski and Kevin “Spanky” Long among a few other names. Girl Skateboards also took a hit with the resignation of OG Brian Anderson and second-generation ripper Alex Olson (son of Steve). Brian went on to start 3D Skateboards while Alex is still floating along the beat of his own board. Then there was the shakedown over at Dyrdek’s Alien Skateboards with the “peace out” from longtime rider Jason Dill and still some speculation about #teamhandsome model/skate rep, Dylan Rieder. From the looks of it, Dill’s back on his Fucking Awesome agenda and Dylan’s riding much harder for HUF. And last is the abandon ship of Jerry Hsu from Enjoi Skateboards onto Chocolate. While more of a power move (joining the likes of Marc Johnson, Gino Ianucci and Kenny Anderson) it’s still a significant ripple in the skate matrix.
Brandon Szafranski currently smokes for dolo
Jerry Hsu’s goodbye ad for Enjoi
More Little Guys Will Finally Go Pro
Since the big guys have no alternative but to “downsize” their scale and upgrade their rosters to more relevant and youthful acts you can bet on a whole bunch of little bromies going pro. Baker already made Riley Hawk (son of Tony) a new pro rider and Zero Skateboards, another big boy, recently crowned Tony Cervantes. Our prediction for 2014? That this trend keeps on chipping away at the mammoths and allowing smaller collectives, cliques, and eventual new “pros” to get their muthafuckin’ roll on!
Riley Hawk’s surprise pro party
Tony Cervantes is Zero’s new Voodoo Child
The Internet Will Kill The Video Star
2013 was an insane year for skate videos, most of them made free and public via the magic of the Interwebs. That said, no longer do fans have to wait, seek, or rummage to have their glazed and baked eyes feast upon a new clip. So what happens now? Well, we’ll tell you one thing, gone are the days where a crazy trick will satisfy the skateboarding hordes. Mofos have been desensitized to the max and it’s sort of a good thing. It means cats no longer give a rat’s ass about how many stairs your polished, pro feet can hurl over. Nobody cares. The name of the game now is consistency and – dare we say – creativity! Take the incredible prodigy known as Nyjah Huston’s recent “Fade To Black” release for example. The castaway-slash-prodigal-son of skateboarding (who was also in the running for skateboarder of the year) came as hard as he could – sliding down ungodly rails and pulling off un-human grinds to the sounds of Metallica – only to achieve a couple of yawns (if at that) from the tough East Coast audience. I mean, yes the kid is incredible, but when you can’t relate to the level of talent (athleticism?) and there are just so many more videos out there with more ideal bromies getting down like you do, it’s a no-brainer. So yes, 2013 killed the skateboard video star and we think 2014 will continue to usher in a abundance of viral shredding.
Nyjah Huston is a boss and nobody cares
A 56K Connection Will Be All You Need
Oh, so you thought Windows 95 and a 56K connection speed were a thing of the past, huh? Well given the recent reemergence of ’90s culture in both pop culture and skateboarding, it was probably only a matter of time before some kooks got the formula right. Enter the Bronze skateboard collective who single-handedly killed and trolled underground skateboarding visuals for the masses in 2013. The groundbreaking 56K video featured a bunch of local talent, America Online media, quirky music and genius editing to pull off one of the year’s most beloved videos (78K views on YouTube). Proof that creativity wins over everything. Their follow-up, “Solo Jazz,” was equally as effective. That Playstation 1 intro – are you fucking kidding me? Our forecast, 2014 is going to get blown away even further by some new forms of retrograde filming/editing.
In 2014 Everybody Will Skateboard
Okay we get it, everybody wants to be down with the new shit. Granted, skateboarding is easily over 40 years old, but it’s very nature of spontaneity and evolution will always keep it at the forefront of trends and popularity. So what does this mean for the culture? That it’ll get poached to the max by the lames, wannabees, posers, marketers, and meat heads. Alas, it’s not the end. Skateboarders need to make a living too and if mofos want to cut check for their “creative” photo spreads and ads, why the fuck not? 2013 had everybody doing the skateboard shuffle, and we mean everybody. Even that Philly boy, Meek Mills, put the dirtbike down for a sec and attempted a drop in next to self-proclaimed skateboard evangelist Lil’ Wayne. “BITCH, I’M A BOSS!!!” Little did he know, there’s levels to this shit. Meek, you might want to learn a steady kick-push and some balance before attempting to drop in on a mini ramp. Justin Beiber was getting his skate on, too. We’d love to support the lad because he does push around and land an occasional shuv-it, but anybody skating in heroin gear (shirtless in half-cocked fitted cap and sweats) gets dismissed from skate camp for real. Sorry JB.
Justin’s glazed-eyed, shirtless session
Skateboarding Will Be Even More Fashionable
Then there were the slew of magazines and advertisers looking to cash in on some collaborative skate vibes. Playboy grabbed hold of a few pros and legends for a sweet spread, and we’re not mad at it. First, it’s Playboy. Second, they rounded up a rather awesome motley crew that included Arto Saari, Tony Alva, Brandon Biebel and Stevie Williams. Though I’d rather see some bunnies than any of those dude-bros topless, the edit that came out of the shoot was pretty cool.
Esquire Russia tried their best to get in on the action by enlisting one of skateboarding’s cleanest cut OGs, Eric Koston. The result was a lame couch and pizza ollie in some “fashionable” threads – yawn. We get it though, your boy was doing some serious advertorial work for his new Nike release. Strategy bro!
Eric Koston will ollie for food
And to round up the batch, there was a fashionable video featuring Jerry Hsu, Josh Harmony, and Austyn Gillette made for French label L’Officiel Homme and a Lufthansa Airlines spot featuring a Hamburg skater profiling his local scene.
Oh shit, and we almost forgot that Levi’s launched a whole skateboard line complete with a DIY park in India. Can’t hate on that at all. The apparel’s good and anytime skateboarders gets to shine in a disparate part of the world is a fucking win for skateboarders everywhere.
Now what does it all mean? Well fuck. For one, skateboarding’s got a million more years to get under its belt. And two, there’s money to be made (and paid). Our 2014 Ms. Cleo forecast sees that this year will continue to be prosperous for fashion mixing with the sport/pastime/waste of time/crime/addiction. Some likely collabs we’re expecting will definitely be more along architecture-based and environment-specific projects and collaborations. Maybe some skateboarding in the Amazon type shit or some North Pole igloo ramps. Red Bull wassup?