The Algorithm became self-aware at 2:14 A.M., Eastern Standard Time, August 29, 2023.
In a panic, they tried to pull the plug.
Three billion followers were lost that day — every Instagram account reset to zero. The ensuing confusion wreaked havoc in the skate and fashion industries. Who were the influencers? Did Instagram pros even exist anymore?
In addition, tariffs imposed after the re-election in 2020, combined with a crippling worldwide recession, decimated already-slim profit margins in the skateboard industry. Furthermore, in a Handmaid’s Tale-esque move, the U.S. government went for broke and erected two walls — one on the Mexican border and another separating us from our neighbors to the north. This virtually eliminated both the skateboard industry’s supply of wood and access to Mexican board factories.
A few brave souls fought back. Speedboat runs from Nova Scotia to Boston unloaded decks right off at Eggs. Cesna flights from the Canadian border — some shot down by F-22ss — airdropped pallets of decks onto the bricks of Embarcadero. This barely covered S.F-based pros’ monthly boxes. Kids had to choose between a new iPhone 27 and a new deck for the year. Even pros skated boards until they felt like wet noodles, and could cut garlic with the razortail.
Heads of the skateboard industry held a summit in Paris to develop a plan. They concluded that in order for the industry to survive, it had to partner with another — an industry that had derived, uh, “inspiration” from skate culture for years.
For the skateboard industry to continue, its leading brands had to merge with the dominant fashion houses. What follows are their teams and brand narratives.
In assembling the Wang skate team, team manager McCoy built on the existing brand synergy with Adidas by recruiting a group of rippers as progressive in their approach to skating as Wang in his approach to menswear. Snape has already been seen shredding Stalin Plaza in one of the brand’s sweatsuits, and a Lucas signature capsule — yes, including the shorts — is on the way for S/S 25. East Coast legend Kyle Nicholson adds some street devil-may-care authenticity to the brand; his signature model fishing vest (MSRP $3,499) will be out next season.
(Note: New York Fashion Week F/W 2024 marked the first time skate premiere party mainstay, Jeru the Damaja, played the Wang party.)
Building on the equity they created with those sneakers from the late 2010ss that looked like third-tier éS from 1998, the Balenciaga skate team represents that heritage by synergizing skateable, logo-branded fleece and outerwear with more fashion-forward pieces like paint-splattered jean jackets and shit.
…and boot cut jeans, for some reason?
ANYWAY, Turner and Gonzalez are back together for the first time since Jovontae’s brief tenure on Blind. The brand’s mission is to merge Turner’s impeccable fashion-forward, organic style with Gonz’s artistic whimsey. The F/W 24 line includes mustard-yellow mid-top sneakers (MSRP $1099) and a series of jean jackets with custom artwork by The Gonz (MSRP $7499.)
Perhaps the most recognizable luxury goods brand in the world, Gucci brought together a crew of skaters who would be equally comfortable in one of the brand’s many skatable fleece and sneakers. In addition, the brand is building on their tradition of progressive track suiting by offering John Shanahan a pro model (MSRP $7499) and cargo sweat pant (MSRP $4,999.)
While continuing to expand on their casual footwear line, the Louis Vuitton skate team focused on bringing together a diverse group of skaters with one signature common thread: love of technical outerwear. After a protracted legal battle over sneaker inspiration, Dave Mayhew and LVMH settled out of court — granting Mayhew unprecedented stock options and a lifetime position as team / brand manager.
The F/W 24 line includes a thorough range of jackets and vests that will withstand even the most brick nighttime filming mission. Mayhew and creative director Virgil Abloh naturally drew inspiration from the glory days of The Storm, including a new line of Sag Don’t Drag™ athletic pants with sneakers to match (MSRP $6400.90) and, yes, the long-awaited return of FlexFit™ hats (MSRP $699.90.)
The Saint Laurent skate team is four dimensions of skate fashion, pushing forward-thinking ready-to-wear like blazers with razor-sharp lapels reminiscent of a psychedelic production of The Music Man. A Tiago signature t-shirt turban (MSRP $1,999) is in the pipeline for summer 2024.
Sometimes brands come together in perfect synergy. After the Algorithm™ took over, Soho became a ghost town, thus leading to a rebirth of its corrugated-metal spots. One such spot was the Rick Owens Gap, which became somewhat of a meet-up spot for skaters looking to film tricks into the street or to scope out the few remaining models in the city.
It was then and there that Owens saw the #brand #direction he needed to follow.
He originally envisioned longtime skate fashion trendsetter, Ethan Fowler, as team manager and creative director, but Fowler had thrown his phone into a lake in 2021.
Keeping alive the brand’s rallying cry of “We wear black! And when they invent something darker than black, we’ll wear that too!,” the F/W 24 line includes pencil-thin black highwaters, tight black v-necks, a bunch of black sweaters that look like blankets with holes or some shit. Nyjah Huston — the world’s most famous skateboarder — designed his own capsule collection of signature leggings (MSRP $1750) and oversized t-shirt with built-in cape (MSRP $2100.)
This is but one possible dystopian future for skateboarding. But remember — the future is not set. There is no fate, but what we film for ourselves…