All around us, the towers of logic are a-tumble, similar to Jenga blocks erroneously positioned nearby to a Fred Gall wallride. Behold, the vagabond winos at Cliche now peddle decks in distribution partnership with handrail headbangers Zero under Dwindle, the house that Flameboy built. Longboard makers run financial roughshod over storied and battle-hardened deck dynasties; three months on from Alien Workshop’s abrupt mothballing, major magazines have yet to offer any account, official or otherwise. In midtown professional skaters lustily embrace their corporate paymasters, as Paul Rodriguez and other Street Leageuers press Nasdaq’s ceremonial market-opening button and Chris Cole affirms to the WSJ that skateboarding is the “perfect” method for the Olympic to expand its viewership and rope in new advertising dollars.
In recent weeks another would-be bastion of reasoning crumbled following DGK’s release of its “Blood Money” promo. Largely obscured by Marquise Henry’s massive switch backside noseblunt, half-cab pointer grind revert and AVE ender, Dane Vaughn’s last trick and facial hair making a bid for the year’s sleaziest, as well as Boo Johnson’s handgliding hardflips and impeccable frontside tailslides*, was the subliminal yet clearly articulated message that skinny camo pants no longer can be used as any litmus test for judgment, fashion- or otherwise, upending a longstanding assumption that stood unchallenged as recently as Trevor Colden’s Skate Mental part. DGKs from Marquise Henry to Jackson Curtin (several times recognized historically as the industry’s best-dressed) can been seen within more form-fitting camoflage, jettisoning the traditional woodland patterning, cargo pockets and bagginess that imbued the noble BDU with its sense of timelessness**.
Are we so lost? Like Rick Howard video parts and Red Dragon brawlings, increasingly, skate-centric fashion innovations seem to be fading into the haze of history, sometimes dropped amid adoption by more general populaces, sometimes because they ultimately became understood to look wacky. Patterned berets sold by Vision came to identify counterculture warriors in 1980s cinema, whereas lacesavers went the way of the vert ramp in the early 1990s just in time for kickflips to usher in ollie patches, Shoe Goo and a slightly different way of shredding shoelaces. Airwalk, Vans and Etnies could not wrap their heads around low-top sneakers quickly enough to save a generation of “Questionable” era hightops from stickers and shears, the latter of which also chopped short pant cuffs in the goofy boy period, influencing several ravers.
Following a bizarre interlude when shopping at the Gap was cool, skateboarders helped lift cargo pants to their later Abercrombie staple status before Muska developed a unique method for bunching up his pants at calf level, in which he was joined on both coasts by the likes of Sean Sheffey and Fred Gall. Warner Ave members later attempted to resuscitate spray-painted shoes and reclaim the vert shirt from bodybuilders, but despite the ongoing success enjoyed by the weed leaf sock, such strokes of inspiration in recent years mostly wandered toward more pedestrian pastures, the brown cords/white tee ensemble serving as a notable such milemarker.
Consider the shoelace belt, and whether it represents the longest-lived such accessory. Popularized around the 2002 release of Flip’s “Sorry” as a more lightweight and streamlined alternative to spiked belts for the stretch black denim set, the shoelace belt enjoyed broad embrace across the tech/gnar spectrum, at times seeming to mutate into a product category of their own. Mall retailer Zumiez currently offers three pages’ worth of shoelace belt items and belt-optimized branding options are available in multi-coloured sets from the hat firm Neff. Despite adherence to colourful editions among the likes of Sebo Walker and Shep Dawg Stephen Lawyer there appear signs that the shoelace belt’s profile may decline as more-traditional leather variants reclaim lost market share and diminishing lace hole populations leave larger-waisted consumers bereft of fittable out-of-the-shoebox options.
Would extinction of the shoelace as a belt mark another step toward relinquishing any claim skating still may hold over casual-wear style leadership? Have bike messengers and dockworkers already usurped this position? Is it ‘just a shoelace brah’ or so much more brah? Does there exist photo evidence of so-called “lace heads” lining up outside shops days before a sneaker release only to discard the shoes in favor of looping limited-release laces through expensive denim beltloops? Were these the original target consumers for Jake Brown and Peter Smolik’s ‘lifetyle company’ LACED?