Sometime during those drunk final ten days of 2018 when no e-mails went answered, an associate mentioned the difficulty of isolating “trends” as we approach the final year of the decade. In this era of post-everything where the past exists at the same time as the future, what even qualifies as a #trend? Gone are the simple days of noticing a sudden spike in camo-panted legs at Tompkins, or bleached heads doing no complies and being able to declare: “trend!” No, in recent years, the #trendwatch has leaned towards psychological states of being, and on occasion, fully fallen short of fruition. Even something as under-a-microscope as “BLESSED” is a more refined version of what the same cast had already been molding since 2014.
And then, the associate says [name redacted for fear of “YOU’RE WHAT’S WRONG WITH SKATEBOARDING!” retribution], “What if the 2019 Trend™ is simply skating in really expensive shit?”
This goes beyond Dill or Dylan being inspired by Prada shoes, or Pappalardo waiting for a flight with his Louis luggage. Obviously skateboarders have been documented with nice shit before, but now, you open Instagram and see Lucien Clarke and P-Rod posting photos of them in Louis Vuitton outerwear within an hour of one another. Further out in the Instagram universe, in a galaxy most-closely observed by those who list their favorite skaters by handles rather than government names, there is a burgeoning sect of volunteer teamriders for Gucci, Versace, and Burberry. At a cultural crossroad where Playboi Carti is one of Jay-Z’s biggest influences, there seem to be two choices across all spectrums: reenact a skate version of the intro from John Shanahan’s It’s Time part, or take advice from the other Jonah Hill sports movie, which is, of course, “adapt or die.”
The grass is always greener for spots, yeah — the guy with a hundred marble ledges eventually wants a metal slappy curb — but it’s also greener for gear. What Joe Shmo with 20K+ followers and a decent-enough kickflip can’t DM one of skateboarding’s finest soft goods brands kindly begging for a box? And if you have 20k and your kickflip sucks, you most likely have a brand, which offers you the “box for a box?” alternative. Luxury brands, on the other hand, remain ~exclusive~ (even to pros!) and immune to our efforts of leaving a box emoji in the comments.
Fashion has taken over our skateparks. They abducted skateboarding’s single greatest achievement, and branded it as their own. If we were to 2009 Challenge ourselves right now, we’d look like a broker version of how celebrities are being dressed by their stylists today — dirty shirt, faded chinos, and an sweaty sheen that screams “I really shouldn’t have went home with that person last night” well into the mid-afternoon sunlight. Skaters on the other hand, look like celebrities’ 2009 Challenge photos, donned all cute in luxurious fabrics.
They can have our past, we’ve remixed enough old skate company logos from the nineties, take it. But where we do want to go, well… it’s not how you start — it’s how you finish — and we will be forced to spend the remaining 300something days of the 2010s adjusting our Gucci belts and grappling with just how we want to be remembered ;)