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I was a skater before it was cool to be a skater that skates

Everyone’s wearing Thrasher flames and doing 360 flips all without breaking a sweat, or any bones. Skating is the new ‘it’ thing and people are buying into it – whether they skate or not.

As someone who thoroughly enjoys and admires skating from afar (it’s hard to get on a board when you have the balance of a new born giraffe and when muscle memory signals an alarm in your brain from when you suffered an almost bum-breaking fall from trying to skate a few years ago), I fully understand the awing fixation with the sport.

There does seem to be an air surrounding skating that radiates exclusivity and this kind of flawless and nonchalant coolness. But do you have to skate to earn the right to wear skate clothes? Or are you considered an imposter? Is it a mockery to like skating if you can’t even do an ollie or push off from the ground without someone holding onto your hand? These are all questions that run parallel to the rising popularity of the sport, a question of genuineness perhaps. Did I buy that Thrasher top to look like a cool skater girl, or do I actually like the top?

I spoke to Louis Slater, the founder of Sex Skateboards, a skate streetwear, and board brand, about the commercialisation of skating and the fashion culture that has stemmed from its seemingly increasing attractiveness to the masses. He said there are a number of reasons for the heightened popularity in skating ‘fashion’, but he “doesn’t wanna write an essay on it” – but he could, maybe? He does feel like people are buying into a skating culture, and after asking about people wearing skate clothes that don’t actually skate, he replied: “kids wear fireman outfits”.

Sex Skateboards remains fairly new, Louis started painting the sex logo in 2015 and, a couple years later, he’s just released the SS17 collection. But it’s not just about fashion and skating, it’s about art and the art of creating – something which Louis makes very clear. He customises his own boards and sometimes sells them via Instagram and direct messages. I asked whether social media has helped or hindered his brand, considering the account has been deleted in the past and his photos removed for not following ‘community guidelines’. He replied: “both, live 2 die”. Sounds quite spiritual and deep for something that’s in reference to an app.

It’s not surprising Louis sometimes receives these ‘that isn’t actually suitable, so soz but we’re going to remove it’ messages from Instagram. It is slightly prudish at times, especially when it comes to sexuality, and obviously even the word sets off a trigger for deletion. And God forbid there’s a nipple thrown in the mix – that might cause an entire meltdown one day.

The Sex Skateboards’ social media page is full of the SS17 items, vids of skating stunts in the middle of London, the Sex logo being graffitied over pictures of lips and tongues on magazine pages and nude cartoon bodies that Louis live-draws and records with this marker-pen-doesn’t-leave-the-page type technique.

I think the connection between skating and this creative atmosphere surrounding it, combined with the fact more and more people are picking up a deck, means we could have a new innovative hybrid of art, fashion, culture, skating, etc. on our hands. And whether you can skate, or can’t. Whether you’re interesting in learning how to drop down a half pipe, or the idea itself scares the shit out of you. Whether you buy a tee from a skatewear brand without the intention to ever start skating or you skate to work everyday – just embrace what’s happening. Cause there’s a new type of multitalented creative on the scene – no one is a specialist and everyone dabbles in whatever they please.

Why can’t an artist be a businessman? Why can’t a skater create a clothing line that’ll blow up? The progressiveness and commercialisation of skating culture can only be positive, surely?

Get Volume #17 now.

Words by Eliza Frost

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