Skaters! What is going on inside of their heads?!

For years, marketeurs and admen have tried to unlock the secrets of the skater brain. If skaters are, in fact, the first adopters of everything they fancy themselves to be — wouldn’t the quickest way to a portfolio full of retainers be unfettered access to that well of trend forecasting?

But the skater brain has proved elusive. It is guarded behind a wall of trick jargon, indecipherable slang, and a chorus of YEEEEOO‘s. Even superficial factors can be hard to read. Clothing, one of our most outward identifiers of taste, remains a maze of false starts, confusing denim and broken promises. Something as simple as a skater’s t-shirt can be a mystery wrapped in screenprinted enigma.

Traditionally, skateboarders’ tees have fallen into three categories: blank, brand or band. (S/O to Kevin Baekkel’s Monster Energy Thin Lizzy shirt that melded the latter two into one 🧠)

Apart from a brief foray into the “LISTEN TO ______” tee subgenre in the early 2000s, skaters have avoided big, bold statements in big, bold text on their t-shirts. While the rest of the world has been inundated with “BUT FIRST, COFFEE” and the like emblazoned across their chests, our thoughts were not conveniently printed on our shirts. The inner-workings of our brains remained a mystery to ad execs, secret admirers, ourselves, etc.

That is, until now.

Via Panorama 2

Via 242’s “Lucky Number”

Via Nick Steenbeke’s “Look Ma No Hands” Part

Whether you’re answering the public’s inquiries about why you’re not sponsored by an A-list brand (“TALENTED BUT NO CONNECTIONS”), pledging allegiance to fossil fuels (“FUCK ELECTRIC CARS”), or simply sending some ~positive vibes~ to viewers of your front tailslide bigspin (“I HOPE YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH BEING ALIVE”), 2023 was the year that impact font statements began to inch their way en masse onto the Gildan tees of our most talented representatives.

But these tees aren’t just being pulled from a rack of existing Shirts That Go Hard™. Skater-owned brands have begun producing statement tees themselves. Fuck This Industry‘s “Bro Let’s Go Out This Weekend” is without question the Shirt of the Year™, having inspired more convo this past summer than any shit you would’ve seen at fashion week. Limosine knew the best way to announce itself as a company is by asking what the fuck it even was via shirt. And what better way to warn future generations about the perils of having a job than to broadcast employment’s main pitfall on a t-shirt?

As discussed on here before, anything that veers too far to one side is due to swing back the other way. While skate brand tees in recent years have grown more homemade, more inside joke-y, increasingly illegible, and more cryptic to the outsider’s eye, an impact font printed in white ink on a black shirt accomplishes the exact opposite. It was only a matter of time that we slipped and let the world know what we had on our minds. There’ll be a ton of chicks, let’s just go have fun and let go a little.

Previously: #TRENDWATCH2023 — The Search For This Moment’s Really Long Ledge


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