the hermeneutics of skater / surfer clothing brands

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fascinating yet mysterious. when i walk into zumiez it's like experiencing an apocryphal text. hurley, santa cruz, quicksilver, dc, volcom, emerica, etnies: untranslateable enigmas. obviously skater clothing brands are not primarily for skaters (or are they)? who are they for? current or former southern california residents? people who want to look "with it" but not "too weird"? hip suburbanites? i have noticed that a few "preppy" gay acquaintances of a certain age wear a lot of volcom - is this a "thing"? does it mean anything other than the happenstance of time and place? do skater / surfer brands have different shaded associations in relation to each other? based on, say, region, gender or class?

looking forward to ils shedding light on this subject through personal anecdote and conjecture, thank you.

the cat needs to start paying for its own cbd (map), Tuesday, 2 August 2022 20:37 (four months ago) link

I don't have time to respond to this adequately rn :(

do skater / surfer brands have different shaded associations in relation to each other? based on, say, region, gender or class?

yes.

The 25 Best Songs Ever Ranked In Order (Deflatormouse), Tuesday, 2 August 2022 22:54 (four months ago) link

The skateboarding subculture is obsessed with authenticity and gatekeeping obv. One of the ways these concerns have found expression through fashion has been aesthetic conservatism. sometimes, there are rich kids in Dickies and Carhartt.

The 25 Best Songs Ever Ranked In Order (Deflatormouse), Tuesday, 2 August 2022 23:16 (four months ago) link

there was a piece about the Jonah Hill movie in the New Yorker a few years ago where the writer was saying the Thrasher mag logo has absolutely nothing to do with skateboarding, at this point, if anything it's become an indicator that the wearer doesn't skate. there may be a sense among skateboarders that zumiez takes cultural symbols and immediately debases them. it isn't owned or staffed by skateboarders afaik, and doesn't do a lot of community building- it's an apparel store at the mall. since non-skaters who want to look vaguely like skateboarders spend a lot of money at local skate shops, zumiez has probably driven lots of skate shops out of business by picking these customers off.

The 25 Best Songs Ever Ranked In Order (Deflatormouse), Tuesday, 2 August 2022 23:24 (four months ago) link

The above post is pretty much otm. And there’s many, often shifting and blurry distinctions between “skater” branded apparel companies (what you get at zumiez), skater-owned companies that emerged from particular communities and local/niche cultures, and everything in between. Also, local/niche brands that crossover to the point of having nothing to do with skateboarding (Supreme, Thrasher, Huf).

Growing up skate obsessed in the 00s, the stuff you get at places like zumiez brought both deep scorn (i.e. teenage insecurity about authenticity vis a vis the broad commercialization of skate-affiliated brands for general consumption) and reliance, as it was often my only source of affordable skate-affiliated clothing (it was a big deal when I got a Volcom shirt at Pac Sun when I was 13), until I was old enough to go out to local shops and buy more niche stuff. For me, it was about aligning myself with skate brands as an extension of being into skating, though I probably thought ~everyone else~ shopping at the same places is a poser (the worst accusation), ‘cause teenage insecurity and us/them tribalism. Looking back, those mall shops are probably just thinking about casting a wide net by selling tangentially-hip, but generic enough to be broadly marketable, skate fast fashion.

ed.b, Wednesday, 3 August 2022 00:48 (four months ago) link

this is interesting, thanks. i've never been into skating but in my heart i'm a skater ally.

(grim) pump track (wales) (map), Monday, 8 August 2022 19:53 (four months ago) link

i never understood the scorn (?) toward “rich people wearing carhartt”. carhartt pants, even the single knee twill ones, are incredibly tough, triple stitched, easy to patch, made in usa, and affordable (about $50). why not wear carhartt? i’ve rotated three pairs weekly through the last five years of teaching lab science classes (physics and chemistry, so a bit of a shop teacher here) and i just replaced the first of the three. why doesn’t everybody wear carhartt pants?

the late great, Thursday, 11 August 2022 06:23 (three months ago) link

also carhartt europe has a skate brand (carhartt wip) which has been so wildly successful that the american wing has embraced it and is now opening stylie postmodern retail stores in big cities. it is pretty expensive (like supreme prices) so i’ve only grabbed some tshirts (one has the international space station on it) and backpacks but they’re great

anyway i also don’t have time to respond to this and besides skating is a *continuum*, all the way from mark gonzales who might skate in a tweed trenchcoat to 10 year old kids carrying skateboards to the bus stop. i will say that a lot of the brands mentioned in the OP are basic gear for working class / lmc / middle class suburban dads down here south of orange county.

if i go to a brewery or gastropub (which i try not to do) i’ll see soccer moms and kids and many dads will be wearing big black skate shoes, baggy jeans or khakis, skate brand t shirts or (if feeling dressy) poorly made surf brand button ups, surf brand caps (hurley and element are popular). accessorized with guy fieri sunglasses, goatee and beer paunch.

i guess some people just like dressing like they’re still in high school? can’t judge, i still play dnd and listen to rave tapes

the late great, Thursday, 11 August 2022 06:31 (three months ago) link

plus i have a collection of white stussy tshirts (well
mostly white) that takes up a whole dresser drawer but that’s another thread and like thrasher, supreme, huf etc has grown well past surf and skate (like 35 years ago, at that)

the late great, Thursday, 11 August 2022 06:33 (three months ago) link

i thought you'd have some thoughts, interesting.

the equivalent of the brewery / gastropub crowd you're talking about here is .. i'd have to refresh my memory .. but under armour and the north face come to mind.

(grim) pump track (wales) (map), Thursday, 11 August 2022 15:54 (three months ago) link

lord knows why i spelled armor the british way

(grim) pump track (wales) (map), Thursday, 11 August 2022 15:58 (three months ago) link

i don't have anything interesting to say about carhartt other than it i like the way their clothes look on men but their hoodies don't fit me well.

(grim) pump track (wales) (map), Thursday, 11 August 2022 16:00 (three months ago) link

i never understood the scorn (?) toward “rich people wearing carhartt”.

I already said that my main objection to this is aesthetic conservatism. Functional workwear as a "core" skate aesthetic/uniform is a doubling down on male dominance in skateboarding. It's a gatekeeping mechanism that blocks women and girls who are the most acutely marginalized skaters as well as queer skaters who are much more likely than straight guys to wear whatever the fuck they want.

But come on, you don't think it's a little funny that non-workers in workwear scoff at non-skaters in skatewear?

The 25 Best Songs Ever Ranked In Order (Deflatormouse), Thursday, 11 August 2022 16:01 (three months ago) link

there’s many, often shifting and blurry distinctions between “skater” branded apparel companies (what you get at zumiez), skater-owned companies that emerged from particular communities and local/niche cultures, and everything in between. Also, local/niche brands that crossover to the point of having nothing to do with skateboarding (Supreme, Thrasher, Huf).

This is a very good and efficient summary. I would add that everyone just wears Nike and Adidas now.

The 25 Best Songs Ever Ranked In Order (Deflatormouse), Thursday, 11 August 2022 16:14 (three months ago) link

i've never seen a non-worker in workwear (what is an non-worker? i have a "white collar" academic job, but carhartt is functional for what i do since i work with construction tools and chemicals) scoff at a non-skater in skatewear

i've also seen straight skateboarders scoff at women and girls and queer skaters, though not often. when my parents take my (brown) nieces (7 and 9) to the tiny skatepark by my house to spin their razor scooters around they bowl, the "real" skaters (teenagers, mostly, but also some college-age neighborhood kids) clear out for them so they have space and cheer them on.

i will say that when i've seen them scoff at these marginalized groups it's for reasons other than "they're not wearing male workwear brands". although i'm pretty sure women can wear dickies too (the students at my school wear unisex dickies pants as part of their uniform)

one other thing: i'd say that around here actual hardcore street skaters wear whatever the fuck they want, not skate brands. they're obviously skaters, because you see them skating around the street with panache, but they're not dressed like "skaters" as is defined on this thread (i.e. not wearing technical skate shoes or skate brand clothing from zumiez)

the late great, Thursday, 11 August 2022 16:20 (three months ago) link

i don't mean to deny whatever your experience has been though. sounds like you've had some negative experiences and maybe have an axe to grind, which is fair. i guess if you think the logic of capitalism is constant brutal war of all-against-all it would make sense to frame basic consumer choices in terms of oppression etc

the late great, Thursday, 11 August 2022 16:24 (three months ago) link

if you are really interested in marginalization of women/queers though, you should check out how actual construction workers in workwear converse on site (and they may also be skaters, i've known several semi-pro skaters and surfers whose day jobs were with caltrans, since you can work all night for a month on a freeway bridge, make lots of money fast, and then take two months off, plus great health benefits)

the late great, Thursday, 11 August 2022 16:26 (three months ago) link

if you are really interested in marginalization of women/queers though, you should check out how actual construction workers in workwear converse on site

there are different associations obv, but I think when you wear that stuff, this is part of what it evokes.

I don't think I'm preoccupied with marginalization or oppression.

they're obviously skaters, because you see them skating around the street with panache, but they're not dressed like "skaters" as is defined on this thread (i.e. not wearing technical skate shoes or skate brand clothing from zumiez)

Yeah, ed.b's post refers to tracing an evolution from when we were kids ourselves, and that's what i'm doing here too, i guess. I agree that this thread so far hasn't made clear enough distinctions between the past and current stages so far. It's true that for a time (relatively recently) most of the street skaters i'd see around here were wearing non-skate brands. But mostly it was very conservative, basic stuff. I think that's shifted more recently to Urban Outfitters-style 90's/Y2k reissue gear, chunky suede sneakers and all baggy everything. At least among teenagers and college students.

The 25 Best Songs Ever Ranked In Order (Deflatormouse), Thursday, 11 August 2022 18:02 (three months ago) link

three weeks pass...

Just going to add that the mystery of the general ubiquity of this stuff can probably be explained by the fact that the TJX companies seem to stock all their stores with mountains of it.

Kim, Wednesday, 7 September 2022 22:09 (three months ago) link

one month passes...

I skate (on the street, even!) and I must heartily disagree on some of this - plenty of street skaters wear Thrasher and Dickies. It’s the old standby. Supreme and Volcom and Huf, yes that’s probably not a high percentage of actual skaters wearing those. If you wear Supreme, you are into expensive street wear. If you wear a Thrasher shirt, you either skate or used to skate or wish you skated.

I’ll also say I notice a ton of random people wearing skate brands like Lakai or whatever and clearly do not look like the “street skaters” I skate with. I get the sense that some of them might not even be aware they are wearing skate clothes.

About workwear, skaters wear it because it’s tough. You will fall on the pavement and ruin your clothes. Makes sense to wear tough, sturdy clothing like jeans or heavy twill.

Good thing about skateboarding these days compared to the 90’s/00’s is that all types of people skate, not just the stereotypical street skaters who are cool and intimidating and possibly up to no good. Go to a skatepark and you will see plenty of people over 40, over 50 even, on down to people less than 10 from all walks of life. And everyone is pretty respectful and most people are even jovial. It’s great and encouraging.

SA, Thursday, 27 October 2022 19:23 (one month ago) link


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