Skateboarding is more than just the tricks and boards; it's also about looking the part and dressing functionally. It's not merely about throwing on any clothes for the ride but crafting a distinct skateboarding identity.
Once rooted in comfort and functionality, skater fashion has grown from its modest origins to become a pivotal subculture within the broader fashion landscape for skaters and non-skaters alike. Skaters are often first to discover or create new street trends. Join us as we delve into the evolution of this unique street style, tracing its roots in skateboarding culture and exploring how it has transformed over the years.
What Are the Characteristics of Skater Fashion?
Men's and women's skate apparel typically features signature elements like hooded sweatshirts adorned with skate-related graphics or logos, roomy pants, and the quintessential skate shoes. Skater fashion embodies the core values of the skateboarding culture—boasting loose-fitting clothing that enables skaters to move freely without being restricted by their clothes, together with a carefree and non-conformist attitude. Over the years this function has embraced new tech fabric advancements.
Skater Fashion Over The Years
1970s and 1980s
This era saw a surge in skateboarding popularity, especially as a means of self-expression among those who defy conventional societal norms.
Before the sport achieved mainstream recognition, there wasn't a distinct skater fashion style in the '70s and '80s. Skaters opted for practicality, donning shorts, fitted T-shirts, tank tops, high socks, and tennis shoes—essentially, whatever felt most comfortable.
Skateboarders required shoes that offered flexibility for foot and ankle movement and stability for maintaining balance on their boards. In the 1970s, Vans shoes gained prominence, featuring a rugged flat sole and the iconic "Off the Wall" expression. These provided an excellent alternative to going barefoot, offering skaters the necessary traction while remaining flexible for executing tricks.
The 1980s witnessed the rise of Converse shoes, characterised by their high-top design and flat soles, which soon became the go-to choice in skating footwear.
1985 saw Globe International Ltd established from Hardcore Enterprises which was a driving force in the skateboarding explosion in Australasia in the mid-80s. From both their own brands, licenced brands and distributed brands with the likes of Vision Streetwear, Stussy, Mossimo, Freshjive, Paul Frank, Echo Ultd, Counter Culture, Split, Girl Star, World Industries and Mooks they have had a profound impact on skateboarding and skate fashion.
Skateboarding evolved into a lifestyle beyond skateparks, venturing into urban environments. '90s skater fashion featured large, loose-fitting shirts with logos, flannel attire, baggy pants or denim, and durable shoes.
Thrasher Magazine popularised the term 'skate punk', which became a significant subculture during this period. This sub-genre of punk rock was intricately linked with skate culture and emerged thanks to bands like Big Boys and JFA. Characterised by its high-energy, fast-tempo music that mirrors the exhilaration of skating, skate punk became a favourite among skateboarders. It also left its mark on skater fashion, influenced by the grunge and punk rock style with its signature ripped jeans, flannel shirts, and combat boots—a testament to rebellion and boundary-pushing.
The 1990s witnessed the emergence of legendary pro skaters like Tony Hawk and Ryan Sheckler, marking what could be considered the golden era of skateboarding, far beyond its origins as a 'rebel sport'. In a historic moment, Tony Hawk landed the world's first 900 on a skateboard at the X-Games in 1999. His Pro Skater video game franchise also introduced an entire generation of impressionable kids to skateboarding and shattered existing stereotypes surrounding the sport.
In 1995 Globe International established its US operation in LA and the brand is now a part of the US boardsports subculture and a key supplier to major retailers of boardsports appreal, footwear and skateboard hardgoods.
2000s and Beyond
During the early 2000s, skateboarding underwent a transformative phase. Major skate competitions like the Dew Tour and Gravity Games found their way onto mainstream television, and skateboarding became a central theme in numerous films and documentaries like Lords of Dogtown and Dogtown and Z-Boys.
Skateboarding has unquestionably come a long way from a pastime associated with societal outcasts to its official inclusion as a sport at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. 2000's skater fashion, infused with elements from subcultures like hip-hop and punk, has played a pivotal role in shaping contemporary street style. Today many stores and high-end fashion brands cater to a mainstream audience, offering skate-inspired apparel and footwear, showcasing the ever-present influence of this cultural phenomenon.
In 2002 Globe International acquired Kubic marketing that owned World Industries and Dwindle Distribution which was a parent company for Enjoi, Blind, Darkstar and Tensor. This made Globe one of world's largest skateboard companies and continued their massive influence on skate fashion.
Surf brands like Quiksilver, Billabong, Hurley and Rip Curl have also been influenced by skateboarding fashion and continue to provide products that align with both the fashion and function that skaters are after.
How to Dress Like a Skater
Fashion has always been highly subjective—there is no singular way to dress exactly like a skater. While you can take inspiration from past trends throughout the years, focus on comfort and functionality for a style that best suits you.
The Santa Cruz brand, renowned for its bold colours and eye-catching graphic tees, is perfect if you're looking to infuse some creative flair into your wardrobe. Inspite of Santa Cruz being a heritage skateboard brand the last 4 years or so have seen this being probably the most popular teen and pre-teen brand in both the skate and surf market in Australasia. For those needing skateboarding shoes, the Globe Tilt is an excellent choice that offers fashion and stability. This is another heritage item which has been Globe's best selling footwear item for years but is making a huge resurgence with the cool kids in 2022 and 2023. Regardless of what you wear, skater fashion offers endless possibilities. You have the freedom to explore the brands and clothing types that provide comfort and style as you hit the streets.
Embark on your skater fashion journey today by visiting Blitz Surf Shop's online store, your ultimate destination for women's and men's skate clothing, skateboards, and more. We cater to skaters of all levels, whether you're just starting or an experienced rider. If you're in the Gisborne area, don't be a stranger. Pop into our physical retailer, and we'd love to chat, offer skater fashion advice, and point you to the best skate parks in the area.