The Many Faces of Skateboarding

By: Solomon Probosz

Skateboards originated between the 1940’s – 1950’s in California. At that time, however, it wasn’t called skateboarding, it was called sidewalk surfing. These boards weren’t made for what they currently are used for. They were made so that surfers had something to do when the waves were flat.

Skateboard from the 1960’s

There isn’t a definitive answer for who first came up with the idea for the skateboard, the evidence points to a few different people all coming up with the idea around the same time.

Since the 1950’s, skateboarding has grown into a sign of independence, self-expression, rebellion, and acceptance. Trying to label the “typical skater” is impossible. Skateboarding is an all-inclusive culture comprised of men, women, and children of all ethnicities and social classes.

Skateboarding has become a huge influence on modern day culture, especially in fashion, music, and sports

Fashion

Skate style can typically be described as loose fitting clothes that provide some protection from falling. This style began because it was the most functional clothing for the sport, but as time progressed, this style gained popularity and infiltrated the fashion industry. The beauty about the style is that anybody can wear it and anybody can create it.

One person who embodies skateboarding and linking it to fashion is Lev Tanju, the founder of Palace Skateboards. Tanju is from London and started skateboarding at the age 18 when he was with his friends in Clapham, London. Since his first skate, he has fallen in love with it. He became an avid skateboarder with little experience in fashion.

Lev Tanju, founder of Palace

“I had a gap decade after college, just skating and doing fun shit. Then one day I decided that I was a bum and I had to do something. I started designing some board graphics for people I live with. Then half way through designing them I thought to myself that maybe I should just start a skate company.” – Lev Tanju

Tanju’s designs were originally only worn by his skate team but over time the brand became more and more popular. The clothes are influenced by skate culture and the 90’s style.

Palace store in London

Palace has grown to become extremely successful. It currently has three different stores, one in New York, London, and Tokyo, multiple celebrities have been seen wearing Palace, and it has collaborated with some of the biggest brands in the world.

Palace also has an online store where they post new clothes every week and most of the clothes sell out within minutes and are resold online for 2-5 times the retail price.

Even after all of this success, Palace has stuck to its roots, skateboarding.


Music

Skateboarding and music go hand in hand. Skateboarding is prominent in all genres but has a very strong presence in rap.

Rich the Kid was born in Queens, New York. He moved to Woodstock, Georgia when he was 13 and at the age of 15 began skateboarding. Rich is a great example of how skateboarding launched his music career.

Rich the Kid

Rich the Kid was on his way to becoming a professorial skateboarder. In his free time he would rap about skateboarding, life, drugs, and his struggles. His rap began to grow in popularity and eventually he gave up on his dream of becoming a professional skateboarder to pursue a career in music.

This turned out to be a good decision for Rich, since launching his music career he has had 4 songs on the Billboard 100 list and has collaborated with A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, Young Thug, and many other musicians.

Some other notable rappers who skate are Tyler the Creator, Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, and Logic.

Sports

Skateboarding has has even infiltrated the professional sports scene.

Tony Hawk Was born in San Diego, California and started skateboarding at the age of 12. Hawk is a huge factor on why skateboarding became so popular. Hawk began his professional skating career at the age of 14 and was considered one of the top skateboarders in the world by the age of 16.

Tony Hawk as a child

The world had never seen a phenomena like Hawk before and it was fascinating.

During the the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, skateboarding began to become less popular. This all changed when the 1995 X games took place. Hawk competed in this competition and was one of the reasons why skateboarding came back into popularity.

In 1999, Hawk competed again in the X games and landed a trick called the 900 for the first time in history.

After this competition and taking home the gold medal, Tony Hawk retired.

Skateboarding culture reaches far and wide. From fashion, to music, to sports. It is not for a specific type of person, it is for everyone.

“The pro skaters I know are responsible members of society. Many of them are fathers, homeowners, world travelers and successful entrepreneurs. Their hairdos and tattoos are simply part of our culture, even when they raise eyebrows during PTA meetings.” – Tony Hawk

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