Five Favorite Parts With Jamal Smith

As the amount of skateboard content has grown to uncontainable levels, it has been interesting to watch the reassessment of what people value in a skater, part or video. Everyone has sat stone-faced through a part with incredible skating before, and left without being able to remember a single trick twenty minutes later. Jamal’s Palasonic part was the exact opposite of that. It was impossible to watch without smiling, and carried that “he’s having so much fun that I want to go have fun!”-feeling from childhood in a way that few things do once you clock your 10,000 hours of watching skate videos.

We caught up with the 2017 Q.S.S.O.T.Y., star of skateboarding’s first viral video, and someone whose skateboarding always leaves you with a fuzzy feeling inside to get a rundown of his inspirations.

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Fashion Takeover — Judgement Day: Skateboarding in 2023

Words by Frozen in Carbonite
Logos by Requiem For A Screen

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.

Fashion, baby!

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.

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QS Book Club: Head of the Lion, by Claudio Majorana

All product photos courtesy of The Palomino

To an outsider, Sicily feels like a skateboard fairy tale. It is where Mauro Caruso filmed a part in a ghost city once intended to be an eminent destination for art lovers. It is where Jacopo Carozzi et al. found an abandoned post-WWII era seaside resort that seemingly shares ancestral DNA with a skatepark. Almost every spot in Danny Brady’s “Welcome to Palace” part that isn’t British crust is in Sicily. A seasoned Euro T.M. once told me that it’s the best spots/cost/wow-factor combo for a not-obvious skate trip in all of Europe. The Dime guys echoed that sentiment, saying Sicily was maybe the best trip they had ever been on — oh, and, a volcano erupted while they were there.

Except what do any of us know about Sicily’s skate scene? Outside of that Mauro Caruso coverage, practically nothing. The aforementioned T.M. said that you need to pay a guide to drive you around to spots and handle things, because otherwise, you’re pretty much helpless.

Claudio Majorana is an Italian doctor, photographer and skateboarder. Head of the Lion chronicles six years (2011-2017) that he spent photographing a group of young locals in the suburbs of Catania, Sicily. (Catania is Italy’s 10th largest city.) It is the exact opposite of his first skate book, 2015’s The Recent History of Sicilian Skate Tours, which is about just that: foreigners skating Sicily.

The title refers to a cliff from where the crew would jump into the ocean, a rite of passage that signified they were no longer kids. Between a prologue and epilogue of blown-out video grabs, are photos of play-fighting, teenage make-outs, and religious ephemera — staples of any photo book about youth.

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Five Favorite Parts With Paul Rodriguez

Circa 2010 photo via the first-ever QS party ♥

If you cite the era surrounding Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater as when you first started skating (we all know nobody started skating in 2000 because they miraculously saw Photosynthesis in their dreams, stop pretending), P-Rod was likely one of your first favorite skaters. He was one of the main dudes in his mid-teens ripping as hard as established pros then, so it’s funny to see that a lot of what he looked for in his favorites back then was …people in roughly the same age group as him, ripping as hard as established pros.

Some of these turned anecdotal, which is obvs what you’d expect from someone who spent the majority of his life in the skate industry e.g. apparently he talked about the Baker thing in his Nine Club, which I missed, but had no idea that was ever in the cards.

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Halo Effect — The Oral History of the First Hundred Dollar Skate Shoe

Collages by Requiem For A Screen

There’s no shortage of talk about a deck’s notorious resistance to inflation. But what about shoes? While something like a Lebron in 2019 is substantially more expensive than a Jordan in 1999, skate shoes have hovered around the same average $70-80 price tag for the better part of two decades, even as skateboarding itself has grown and adapted to new trends, technologies, and customers. Meanwhile, every fashion house in Europe has been raking in the money these past few years, pushing puffy sneakers reminiscent of old skate shoes.

We tracked down the principal figures behind the first three-figure skate shoe, released in 1997, and got their story on what was as much of an anomaly as it was a watershed moment for skateboarding as a cultural phenomenon, and style of footwear design. (Keep in mind that, adjusted for inflation, $100 in 1997 is the equivalent of $156 in 2019.)

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What was the skate shoe landscape like at the start of the nineties?

Don Brown, Chief Brand Strategist at Sole Tech: Airwalk, Vans and Simple were the only other shoe brands. They had become so mainstream and rigid — and there was a dip in the economy, so they scrambled to get sales wherever they could. Pierre [Andre Senizegues, founder of Sole Technology] was doing the distribution for Etnies at the time, bringing it over from France. When skateboarding crashed, vert and freestyle were pretty much eliminated. There was a whole generation of upstarts, like Rocco and them, and everyone in skateboarding rode for Etnies at some point.

Chad Muska: There were a hundred riders on Etnies, or something crazy like that. Even that High Five video had so many people in it. The shoe industry then was like, “Oh, this company is going to give you free shoes. Maybe there’s a chance you get paid.” It was so secondary to boards. There were early pro shoes, like the Half Cab, the Natas, and the SLB, but I think the real start of the skateboard shoe industry being serious was when they began making videos.

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