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.
The second entrant to a tri-curious skate market was Politic, who controversially issued a Palace-esque shirt last fall that featured a small triangle on the left breast and a larger one on the back. Though Politic’s triangle was meant to house an owl, certain pundits saw this as a quick cash-in on skateboarding’s three-sided frenzy. Politic has since discontinued the shirt in question, though the owl still has a home. The brand even began experimenting with the triangle’s fatter cousin, the hexagram, in its spring 2013 line.
Though Politic waned off its triangle dependency in light of the backlash, the shape’s surge continued elsewhere. This summer, an association with skateboarding’s hottest shape is a priority for new brands. Stevie Williams’ latest venture, Asphalt Yacht Club, incorporates one inside of an “A.” One of the first t-shirt graphics leaked from Brian Anderson’s 3D Skateboards outfit prominently features a three-dimensional drawing of a triangle. Design critics have speculated on whether inclusion of the shape could pick up some of the slack left behind by a handsome and indecisive skateboarder.
Though Palace is certainly here to stay, analysts hired by other companies have been left to calculate the saturation point of skateboarding’s taste for triangles. Are they 4real, or is a pentagon craze just around the corner?
#TRENDWATCH2012: Final fall / winter report, $1,000 griptape, Is this 2013’s biggest t-shirt? (it’s not), Summer report, Smith kickflip outs, headphones & noseslide shove-its