Skater clothing brands have deep roots in countercultural movements. Fashion itself strives against mainstream currents, seeking designs that promote a sense of life and daring in their presentation. The skateboarding fashion world, like all fashion, has evolved over time, yet the memories of fads long since past are still seen influencing skater brands today.
James Jebbia started Supreme after helping open Union NYC in 1989, then Stussy in 1991. An icon in skater brands, his work brought the skateboarding niche to everyone else. What are some of the fashion statements from then (and before) that resonate now? You’ve probably seen them today and may even be wearing them.
Hats all around
Where once hats were worn exclusively forward, a la baseball, skate culture flipped the lid. Literally. The backward, tilted hat became one of many accessories for skaters that simultaneously kept hair out of faces and gave a collective buck to the system that saw this practice as unbecoming. Hats, both baseball cap style, and beanie style have become accessories ubiquitous with skate fashion.
Show some ankle
Jeans used to never show any skin and could be seen on skaters throughout the hottest months of summer. Another fashion statement that outsiders would deem purposefully counter-culture, rebelling against seasons. Pants that exposed some ankle, known earlier as highwater pants, became popular enough in the beginning that current denim wear trends toward rolling pant cuffs, emulating a similar look. Now the style is cleaned up and tailored but began as people taking knives or scissors to the bottoms of their pants and skating.
When it was popular to wear skate brands, some professional skaters would opt for vintage band t-shirts. Skater clothing revolved around wearing something that made people think what on earth are they wearing? It aimed to do so in such a way that after asking, people would seek out the same or similar looks. And it worked.
The 90s and early 2000s were questionable times for clothing, but the devil-may-care attitude of the skateboarding world voiced a sartorial boldness that translated into a strong foundation in a particular fashion niche. Bags, baseball caps, t-shirts, and a myriad of other skate oddments began as personal comfort and statement pieces in a sport compared with rebellion and teen angst. Now, the markings of skate and streetwear have an esteemed place among high fashion houses around the world.