Skaters have always been a pretty easy bunch to spot. Granted, that’s largely down to the fact they tend to be on skateboards, but it also has a lot to do with the garments and labels they clad themselves in.
Skate brands have always been central to the scene’s signature sense of style, and as high-fashion continues to take an interest in skateboard culture, many of them have been thrust into the spotlight.
We now live in a world where streetwear and skateboard clothing represents a new fashion paradigm. Today, the inhabitants of fashion week’s front row and the crowd grinding rails at the Southbank are largely indistinguishable from one another. Now, many of the brands making modern skatewear staples are enjoying the type of reverence previously reserved only for haute-couture houses and high-end designers.
To mark the occasion, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best skate brands around and the reasons why they’re worth knowing.
As a skate brand, releasing new items in restricted weekly drops isn’t the most traditional way to introduce consumers to your seasonal collections. However, when there are queues forming around the block with people who are prepared to sleep on the street just to be in with a chance of copping a brick with your brand’s name on it, well, you must be doing something right.
As a result, the brand is now one of the most revered names in not just skatewear, but fashion in general, boasting high-profile collaborations with the likes of Rolex and Louis Vuitton
Want to know what would have happened if Supreme had been born in London rather than New York? Just take a look at Palace.
Lev Tanju’s ultra-hyped skatewear label is relatively young compared to its trans-Atlantic counterpart. However, a combination of good timing, superb branding and a sense of humour have seen Palace achieve unprecedented global success.
4. Nike SB
Still, as time went on,
It was largely thanks to recruiting a handpicked selection of skateboarding’s top names to form its team. With riders like Paul Rodriguez, Eric Koston and Stefan Janoski on side, the brand had credibility. Couple that with the fact it’s making some of the best shoes in the business and it’s not hard to see why
5. Call Me 917
Pro skater Alex Olson is a man with fingers in many pies. He achieved star status through his segments in skate videos from the likes of Supreme and
Olson’s best-known imprint is probably Bianca Chandon. Yet, while it sometimes gets tagged as a skate brand, his other label, Call Me 917, is a lot closer to the mark.
Call Me 917 is a quirky brand with its own pro team, an array of skate decks, seasonal collections of offbeat skatewear staples and regular high-profile hookups. Expect logo hoodies, tongue-in-cheek graphics and oversized cuts aplenty.
Swedish label Polar Skate Co may be little but it packs a big punch. The independent is one of the pioneers of skateboarding’s recent small-brand resurgence and its crossover appeal has seen it win contracts with some of the most respected retailers in fashion.
Polar is no stranger to a collab either. In the past the label has worked with everyone from Carhartt to Converse, bringing its unique brand of playful skatewear minimalism to some of the biggest streetwear staples going.
Jean Feil co-founded Magenta with his brother Vivien and their good friend Soy Panday in 2010. An indie label built by skaters, for skaters, Magenta was born out of frustration with big corporations.
The brand’s owners didn’t like how popular brands were beginning to get their claws into the sport they loved, so set about doing its own thing.
Nearly 10 years down the line, its plan couldn’t have gone better. Independent brands are king in the world of skateboarding again and Magenta is one of the most respected names among them.
The brand’s clothing output is big on graphics, with their instantly recognisable plant logo featuring heavily throughout the collections.
8. Fucking Awesome
If offensive prints are your thing, look no further than Fucking Awesome. The brand is the handiwork of skateboarding legend Jason Dill and has been keeping the core skateboarder happy since 2001.
A former Supreme team rider, Dill felt disillusioned with skateboard clothing for fashion’s sake and wanted to create something that spoke to those who live and breathe the sport.
Today, the skate clothing brand is still going strong, although Dill has shut it down on a couple of occasions when it threatened to get “too popular”. Something which has only served to increase the hype.
Like many skate brands, a raucous sense of humour is central to almost everything Alltimers does. The New York brand first gained attention for its uniquely shaped boards, including (but by no means limited to) a Ryan Gosling shaped board, one that looks like a giant stack of money, and another in the shape of a Lamborghini.
After a short time, the label began applying its trademark tongue-in-cheek approach to a line of clothing, too. Something which has gained traction not just within the skateboarding community, but in the wider streetwear world as well.
Montreal’s Dime is another shining example of a skate brand with crossover appeal. Often compared to the likes of Palace and Supreme, the label began life as a skateboard crew known for their ‘jokes first, skating second’ approach.
Much like Supreme and Palace, Dime’s appeal has spread far beyond just skaters. The brand has become a streetwear stalwart in its own right and counts a number of celebrity fans among its loyal clientele.
Expect clean branding, street-friendly staples and a humorous undercurrent as standard.
What began as a counterculture magazine born in the 1980s has since evolved into one of the most easily recognizable skate brands in the world.
Thrasher’s signature fiery logo embellishes long sleeves, hoodies and tees around the world, with both new and vintage variations for the true collectors. The website displays a unique selection of apparel and these threads can be found in pretty much any skate shop worldwide, but at its core, Thrasher remains a steadfast publication by skaters for skaters.
12. Canal New York
With roots as a modest wheel company founded in 2006, today, this New York skate brand is nothing but modest. Branching out from wheels, Canal New York set themselves apart on the skate scene by rolling out hoodies with a copycat Chanel logo.
As an independent brand run by New Yorkers, Canal New York has a line of head turning (though minimalist) products, mostly spoofing other big brands. T-shirts sporting the logo “Canalhub” are sure to garner you some attention, along with a play on Comme des Garçons (Canal des Garçons) and classic Gap style logo crew necks. But as a nod to their roots and for any OG fans, you can still purchase Canal New York wheels on their site.
Another big player in the New York skate game, Quatersnacks is an online mecca for skateboarders and has grown into a brand over the past 16 years. They’re well known for documenting the NYC skate scene in the early 2000s and even pay homage to their roots through the name (a nod to bodega snacks sold across the city for a quarter).
Their apparel typically centers around New York, but is easily recognizable with bold graphic prints, bright colors, and Quatersnacks slapped somewhere across the hoodies, tees and hats.
Wear this skate brand around the world and get nods from New Yorkers globally.
Welcome offers a smattering of decks in a variety of shapes, apparel and accessories sporting the things of nightmares… In the best way possible. On a quick peruse through their inventory, you’ll be met with skulls, demons, and dark motifs, artistic drawings and sketched out logos. These fantasy graphics set them apart from other skate brands as they go beyond a simple, bold logo as their signature look.
For all their weirdness, people love Welcome, and this bizarre brand certainly has clout in the skateboard community. With an ever-growing social media presence balanced with skating and style, we’ve come to expect great things from Welcome.
15. Santa Cruz
Though maybe a bit mainstream for some people’s taste, Santa Cruz Skateboards remains among the most iconic skate brands in the world. With a huge range of skate gear, apparel and skate footage, this red and yellow logo is plastered on countless hoodies and tees, alongside their trademark screaming hand graphic.
A fashion favorite and long time skate brand staple, Santa Cruz is all about color, with pastel pinks, vibrant yellows, neon greens and glaring reds. Hit any skate park in the world, and you’re bound to see someone sporting Santa Cruz.