Navigating the volatile skateboard industry is no easy task for prospective small business owners. A few blunders with art direction and hires of skaters preoccupied by beer or art, and sixteen months later, they’re back telling the old story about how “nobody starts a skateboard company to make money.” But recent start-ups have found a believed-to-be shortcut to success: triangles.
Over the past several years, Palace seems to have written a blueprint on how to succeed in the hardgoods market with three vertices. Using a Penrose triangle, the brand has been able to win over older nerds jaded by a kid-targeted skate industry, the world’s best Instagramer, London socialites, dyslexic counterfeiters, and pretty much anyone else who doesn’t spend an unhealthy amount of time on the internet arguing about how Shawn Powers “isn’t good enough to be sponsored.” Such success was unprecedented for newly established companies in the post-2008 meltdown world, and the triangle was front and center, even falling victim to easily amused parodists.
Those who can’t leave da game alone because da game may or may not need them took notice, and likely structured their business plans with triangles in mind.
Really, are the nineties ever not trending? Whether someone is putting VHS effects on footage, technical wizardry that Peter Smolik is never properly credited for, or the legions of YouTube users asserting “this was when skating wuz real” on any pre-2000 part, the decade is never completely irrelevant. In recent times, lesser-known companies from the nineties have been finding their way back in skateboarding, though they remain unrelated to that decade’s proprietors.
EXHIBIT A: As a Connecticut native, Brian Anderson, head of the Skate Mental-affiliated start-up 3D Skateboards, must have been aware of the CT-based 3D Innovations in one way or another. But if you’re familiar with the past two months of Slap gossip, and happened to wake up in Copley Square circa 1994 tomorrow morning, things might be a bit confusing. The differences are obviously there. One has “Skateboards” after its name, the other has “Innovations.” One specializes in hard goods, the other in apparel. One is rumored to have one of skateboarding’s most exciting new rosters, the other is notable in that its video features rare documentation of Mike Graham. Provided the would-be roster is true, and add in the cult following behind Skate Mental’s art direction, 3D Skateboards is destined for a bright future. It’s just not the first time a Connecticut-born mind envisioned skateboarding products in the third dimension. The nineties are inescapable!
EXHIBIT B: Like Exhibit A, given New York’s status as the only place in America that French people aren’t bred to hate, someone involved with France’s Metropolitan Skateboards must have been aware of Metropolitan Wheel Co. If not, the three leading scanners on the skateboard internet made it a point to scan every ad from the Deluxe-distributed, New York-based company’s brief run. Metropolitan Skateboards had been around in some form prior to their 2013 relaunch (they were the company to turn Leo Valls pro before Magenta), but they likely got early word of the decade being especially prominent in this year’s #trendwatch, rightfully assuming it was the right market for a reboot.
Our #trendwatch panel has been keeping a close eye on both the streets and the videos this spring so you don’t have to. Here are several noted developments.
For the first time since the eighties, the fluorescent palette has reemerged in the mainstream. This likely has something to do with #EDM, overwhelming expectations surrounding the new Daft Punk album or the tremendous year “molly” had in 2012, but reasons for skateboarding’s return to neon are less concrete. Given neon’s close ties to rave culture, #trendwatch experts suspect that the child actor version of Jack Curtin in Parental Advisory‘s rave scene may be responsible for skateboarders’ comfortable flirtation with colors otherwise reserved for ecstasy-fueled environments. Also worth noting, is that the still-living crop of VX1000 filmers is in a state of disarray given the curveball neon has thrown to their believed-to-be mastered grasp of white balance settings. To nobody’s surprise, several falling-outs have already been reported between noted filmer-skater pairs over “un-white-balanceable” attire.
Never one for banality, the dreamboat pro who brought you four-figure griptape continues to fuse together skateboarding and high fashion. Much like how girls and the companies that sell them things re-appropriated the headscarves of observant Muslim women into an overpriced luxury item, Alex Olson adopted a traditional Tom Penny t-shirt head wrap into something for fashion-forward skaters in warm climates (note the intricacies of how it is tied.) Though your average non-triangular skater #trend evades the female eye (e.g. girls only like camo on themselves, on other girls, and in theory), Liv Tyler, star of the documentary film, Armageddon, took notice and offered her compliments via a Max B adlib.
While Penny may have intended utilitarian purposes with his creation, Alex’s astute fashion sense couldn’t let this pass as a mere summertime cool-off device. Expect his pro model skater turban and signature griptape to debut at this upcoming New York Fashion Week in Chanel’s F/W 2013 Ready-To-Skate collection. Owwwwww!!!
Other #trends worth keeping an eye on:
– The phrase “*insert video here* is better than Pretty Sweet,” even when the video in question is quite obviously not better than Pretty Sweet. Analysts estimate that this phrase has been used to hyperbolically describe every single video released since mid-November, however inappropriate it may at times be.
– Very gay French montages. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
Happy week before Fashion Week, everybody!
Loose Trucks Max — Blunt stall. Photo by Colin Sussingham.
TVs are the first must-have commodity in the impending 2013 “Trip to New York” cycle (slated to begin in April.) With recent studies indicating that Americans watch up to 3 1/2 more hours of TV on computers than on actual televisions, many TVs are ending up in the trash. Naturally, northeastern skateboarders who love skating garbage took notice, and TVs began to gain on the refrigerator’s marketshare in the “Most Frequently Skated Household Appliance” category. #Trendwatch2013 analysts expect that tricks on televisions will graduate from mere novelties, to modern-day staples of the “authentic” New York web clip checklist. Tricks on abandoned cars and wallrides on porous surfaces (e.g. chain link fences) have also been able to make this leap in recent years.
Could this be one giant skaters-go-to-art-school-and-get-crazy-ideas-from-smoking-too-much concoction intended to be a critique of America’s TV addiction? Is it performance art? Are we on the brink of scanning Craigslist curb alerts for free TVs instead of thinking about spots to skate before we call our friends on Saturday mornings? Did @SeinfeldToday fall off? Is there an industrious crew of
skaters performance artists intent on making the first-ever all-TV skate clip? And if so, will they consider Kingpin Skinny Pimp, Yo Gotti and 8ball’s bass-heavy masterpiece, “TVs,” for music supervision? Does anyone like Criminal Intent more than SVU?
The answer to all of these questions, except the last two, is probably “yes.”
Kevin Tierney — Photo by Brian Kelley