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.
Skating never went anywhere. But once again, like the ’90s and early ’00s, it has captured the imagination of the public. The skate world and the streetwear world have always intersected to a certain extent with labels like Supreme and Stussy starting out as skateboard brands. But now designers like Alexander Wang and Vêtements are taking their cues from the subculture
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.
Skate has always had a hard-bitten aesthetic, equal parts protective and anti-authoritarian. Thick twill trousers are robust enough to prevent concrete shredding too much skin, while a hoodie shields the face from cameras when skating where you shouldn’t. And though practicality remains a long way down most designers’ lists of concerns, it is as obsessed with the underground as ever.
What it means for the everyday guy is that some of the most comfortable and hard-wearing threads you can buy also happen to be the most fashionable. What it doesn’t mean is that Tony Hawk is the new Don Draper.
You can mix and match key elements of skatewear into smart-casual looks and off-duty uniforms, borrowing stylishly from the trend without jumping around like you’re in the background of a Sum 41 video.
How To Dress Like A Skater
Choose loose styles that are comfortable and practical.
Rock graphic T-shirts and hoodies on top.
Down bottom, wear cargo or chino pants or shorts.
Keep your footwear classic with traditional skate shoes like Vans or Converse.
Add accessories like tube socks, a logo cap and backpack.
Rightly or wrongly (depending on who you ask), the skater style is no longer confined to the ramps and you definitely don’t have to be able to ride, or frankly even own a skateboard to pull it off. But you can at least look like you know what you’re doing.
We can probably owe the whole concept of ‘streetwear’ to the skaters of the 70s, who took to the skate bowls of Southern California in their ripped Levi’s, Converse and oversized tees. From humble early beginnings, the skater style has taken off massively over the years, with the likes of Supreme, Vansand Stussy all founding their brands on the sport.
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.
First thing we’re gonna be the shoes no this might be the most important thing of the three depending on how you look at it.
Now it’s pretty obvious that skaters don’t wear runners don’t really work well with what they need to accomplish on the board Ido notice that they usually offer durable and flat sole shoe to get the job done without breaking it. The old school and State High shoes!
God, I know you might think “well yeah no shit but wait” there’s more, so these shoes work well because they’re relatively affordable and they also look good beat-up they also meet the needs of skiers which is why they use them but for the aesthetic it’s easy to pair them with whatever outfit because the colors are so neutral.
So yeah if you don’t like Vans you can also look at a pair of Nike Blazers as those are pretty tight as well you know, they are pretty sick.
If you’re looking to nail the skater style, getting your shoes right is essential. Although there are plenty of new brands around offering great skate shoes, you can’t go wrong sticking to the classic.
So, if you’re after an authentic skate style, be sure to look to brands like Vans and Converse for footwear. To keep things casual, opt for low-top sneakers, such as a pair of Vans Old Skools.
Or, if you prefer a retro style, choose high-top sneakers like Converse All Stars or Vans Sk8-Hi’s. As for colour, black with white always works well or you can mix things up with a bold hue, such as red.
When it comes to skateboarding style, arguably the most important thing you can wear is the right trainers. While there’s loads of new brands around jumping on the skate thing, it’s definitely more advisable to stick to the classics for a more authentic look.
Converse were one of the first brands to be adopted in the skate bowls of California, and available in literally every colour imaginable, you’re bound to find a style to suit you. While muted colours might be more wearable, a bright pop against neutral skate trousers is a really cool touch.
It also goes without saying that Vans are pretty much synonymous with skate style. Vans Authentics are great for a summery vibe, but for full skater effect, go for the Sk8-Hi’s. The classic black and white colour-way will see you through the whole year, and the more scuffed up, the better.
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.
Skate pants are all about styles that are easy to move in and comfortable to wear. So, while skinny jeans can be too tight and sweatpants too baggy, cargo pants are just right. Cargo pants and work pants, such as those from Dickies, have long been a go-to for skaters thanks to their durability.
Today, these pants can still make an excellent option for those looking to rock the skater look. Likewise, chinos can offer a similar aesthetic while adding a modern touch to outfits. To wear a pair like a skater, all you need to do is choose a cropped, wide-leg design or cuff a straight-leg style to a couple of inches above your ankles
A pair of skate shorts will help you stay cool while looking stylish this summer. Thanks to their unrestrictive design, shorts are a favourite item for skaters. To channel the look for yourself, pick a pair that finishes at your knees and features a loose fit.
For a casual look, try cargo shorts with large pockets. Just team them with an oversized tee and skate shoes for a great skater style. Alternatively, for something a little smarter and more modern, swap the cargo shorts for a pair of chino shorts. But remember to make sure they’re cut long and wide to maintain a skater aesthetic.
Wide legged trousers are definitely all the rage right now, but aren’t always the most practical for shredding the streets on your board or for the summer sun (hopefully). So a good pair of shorts should be your go to for getting that proper skater style. Cargo shorts are a skater favourite, and are generally baggier in fit and have more pockets than you’ll ever need so you can concentrate on those kickflips. Or not.
Get them in a camouflage print for a streetwear statement, and keep your t-shirt oversized and simple for a staple skater look. Granted, skaters aren’t the smartest guys in the world, but if you do feel the need to smarten up a bit, a slimmer pair of chino shorts will do the job nicely.
Skate style trousers are literally everywhere right now. Their wider leg and slightly cropped style feels a lot lighter for summer while still in keeping with the skater look.
Dickies’ worker pants are a firm favourite amongst skaters – they’re pretty low maintenance, with stain release and wrinkle resistance qualities making them ideal for the sport. Again, cargo style pants are also a good choice as they’re super practical and look great when layering with basics.
Beige and stone tones give a nice contemporary feel to the skater look, and are probably the easiest way to smarten up the style. But lets face it, beige is going to be a nightmare if you actually are heading to the skate park, so a black or navy might be a safer option.
And it goes without saying the camo is always a cool option to make more of a skater statement. Wear turned up and pull your socks up high in true skater fashion to show off your kicks.
Hoodies are a skate staple and an excellent option for those who want to try out the skater style without going over-the-top. They can be paired with a variety of pants, including jeans, chinos, cargo pants and cropped trousers, and even added beneath a coat in winter.
They’re also practical and comfortable, making them great to wear for casual occasions. All you need to do is select a style that’s loose and thick to nail the look. For an extra skate touch, consider one with a logo or graphic print on the front.
If you can’t (or at least don’t) skate, then co-opting the full Palace look smacks of desperation. “Wear the pieces that are a natural fit for you,” says Giles Farnham, head of River Island’s Style Studio.
Hoodies are a skate staple, and this cultural cache means they can be used to nod to the aesthetic even if you don’t know your Eric Koston from your Eric Clapton.
“Try mixing skate pieces with different styles for a more balanced aesthetic,” says Farnham. “For example throw a hoodie on with smart cropped trousers and sneakers.”
This high-low approach to dressing (essentially mixing pieces from the street with the street called Savile Row) also opens the skate world to drop into everything from weekend looks to a workwear wardrobe without looking out of place.
The last one has got to be tops it’s obvious that skaters tend to lead towards certain expensive brands but I’ll leave that to your personal taste. What I want to touch up on is the fit. The shirts they usually wear tend to be a bit oversized, I don’t know why it might be that since all they do is shred all day.
They’re probably in decent shape or do to be a inability to afford food because you guys spend too much on your boards because your board is your life bro. How much you know it’s just a style the other tops are usually very loose-fitting to match their nature but you can do whatever you want I’m just giving you options.
When it comes to skater style, it’s all about baggy, loose shapes, and this definitely includes your t-shirt. You can’t go far wrong with a crisp white tee, as it’ll go with literally any pants, but if you’re a fan of a graphic print, check out the likes of Dickies and Carhartt – they’ve got some cool logo designs that’ll keep you on the right skater lines.
Layering is also a massive part of achieving the skater look. It’s super practical – you might be chilly one minute and then overheating from tearing up the skate bowl the next. And in other news, it just looks really cool. Go for a contrasting colour overshirt to add a bit of colour and interest to the look. A baseball style shirt is especially on trend right now, and perfectly channels the old school 70s skater vibe.
The skate world prioritises function over form, but that’s not to say there isn’t room for a few embellishments.
The most recognisable item of hardware gifted to the menswear masses is the wallet chain. Originally intended as a form of metal leash to stop personal effects being lost during a 360 shuvit, and later co-opted by mall-goths, it’s a piece that’s flip-flopped in and out of favour more times than Green Day.
Baseball caps and thick white sports socks have also been absorbed, particularly in recent seasons, into mainstream style thanks to remixes by designer and high street brands, but both got their start on the half pipe and are an easy way to add an edge to a more structured look.
Skate style may be more about function than fashion, but that doesn’t mean you can’t rock a few great accessories. For an iconic skate look, be sure to pick up a classic wallet chain.
These chains were designed to keep wallets secure during ollies and 360s but also worked to reinforce a rebellious style. Today, they’ve seen a small resurgence but certainly take confidence to pull off.
For something easier to wear, try picking up a pair of tube socks along with a backpack and logo cap. Or, really embrace the ’90s with a bucket hat and bum bag worn casually across your chest.
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.
Does this mean we’ll be subjected to people wearing Dickies pants who can neither operate a skill saw or ride a skateboard? Of course. Much like gentrification, most fashion trends move from people who are connected to a culture to people who are wearing it because everyone else is.
Hip-hop is 40 years strong and continues to evolve. Skateboarding isn’t going anywhere. And neither are the hard working men and women who wear this stuff unironically on the jobsite.
This author is of the opinion that once anything is worn or done ironically, it’s over-the-hill. Nothing trumps passion for something and that goes for workwear too. The people who took this look from the factories and construction sites to the streets did so because they were passionate about what they did and probably didn’t care about what outsiders considered “fashionable”.
What they needed was a uniform that could hold up while they did it. So while many of the old school skaters and old-heads alike may scoff at newbies wearing the clothing they wore years ago, if somebody discovers the beauty of both the board and the beats, the fashion has influenced a new wave beyond just a look.
Today, there is no shortage of great skate brands around. So, you’ll have plenty of choices when shopping for skate clothes. Of course, nothing beats the classics. Vans was launched in 1966 and has stood the test of time, continuing today as one of the world’s most popular skate brands. Other labels, such as Stüssy, which was created in 1980, and Supreme and Volcom, which have been around since the ’90s, are also iconic industry names.
It may be a little newer, but HUF, which was created by Keith Hufnagel, is another favourite amongst skaters. So too is Thrasher, which is a skateboarding magazine that also sells apparel and other products.