Recently as part of a broader discourse on the state of the modern skateshop I deployed the phrase “branded product,” and even with scare quotes highlighting a wry and half-joking nature, heh heh, I felt kind of like a dork. There’s any number of breadcrumbs dropped along skateboarding’s meandering path into the deep dark forest of institutionalization lo these past couple decades, and embracing this type of industry jargon seems like shaking the bag. For the youngsters there’s maybe some cachet to dangling such terms around the park or the curb, suggesting you’re familiar with the industry and maybe a little bit of world-weariness to go along with it, but as time passes I feel sometimes like these little phrases get to be more of a reminder of how weirdly and wonderfully insular our little universe can be, what with pretty much all the media by/for/about its advertisers and well-documented revolving doors granting exit and entry from jobs at companies or distributors the same as pro team rosters.
Of course at a time where our planet is regularly threatened by dangerous solar storms and powered by a steadily expanding sun that may one day engulf us, or heat us up too much to live anymore, this is all minor league shit. But, for a tribe that has developed its own vernacular to the point where a factual complete sentence like “He kickflip backside noseblunt slid that hubba for his ender in the Firm’s ‘Can’t Stop’” sounds like gibberish to the man on the street, I’m getting on my Académie Française on for some grievance airing. Disclaimer, this blog webpage has maybe abused any or all of these phrasings.
Product, singular: Sorta remember first noticing this in interviews in the late 1990s, now it is the parlance of our times when it comes to discussing numerous boards, sets of wheels, pairs of shoes and so on. During especially sensitive moments this word could be seen to carry an elitist tinge, like an offhand description of sponsorship spoils. But it’s also useful as a reminder of the commoditization of boards and wheels over the past decade, and maybe now shoes too, until the pendulum finally swings away from canvas low-tops and back toward the Es Scheme.
Colorway: Distinctly recall first seeing this in an ad for Muska’s first pro shoe for Circa. Disliked it because it always seemed a little poofy and, dare I say, girly. Why not just “see other colors of the Scheme at http://www.esfootwear.com”?
Core: When referring to a shop or a company. To me the word “core” in this sense comes from the same land where they farm those big neon-coloured hats with the fake dreadlocks, step-in snowboard bindings and surf shorts with big flames down the sides. I understand what the word’s trying to get at but attempting to affix this label flounders on the same slippery slope as Justice Potter Stewart grappling with a definition for hard-core pornography. Know it when you see it, etc.
Brand: Instead of company. Comes off a little high-falutin’, or maybe like the product of an overheated marketing 101 lab session. Rather than make things, it must also be things, perhaps to certain people at certain times and for certain favors to be delivered at an agreed upon date.
SKUs: Here you toddle down the path to the strange and surreal dimension of retail merchandising acronyms. SKU stands for stock-keeping unit, and can be used to refer to Es Schemes or other products kept in a store for sale to customers. Confusingly, a shoe* can be a SKU, and a SKU can also be a shoe, or in other cases a hat or even a Hurley sticker.
*such as an Es Scheme