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Things Aren’t What They Seem

Got an extra shoelace, bro?

Skateboarding requires one to see the world differently. Benches aren’t just made for sitting and handrails aren’t just for holding. Ditches aren’t just for city-planned water drainage and pools aren’t just for swimming.

Because of this, skateboarders are a specific kind of creative beast. By constantly reimagining the world around them in search of the next spot, they have a natural momentum to bring a unique creative perspective to all areas of their lives. When one looks at the world through skate goggles, everything has new possibility. You can take nothing for granted — because things simply aren’t what they seem.

This creative perspective is baked into the DNA of every skateboarder, and it inevitably leads to all sorts of trendsetting, both in thinking and behavior, that stretches far beyond its own industry. A big reason for this is what’s found at its core — two unspoken, high virtues of skateboarding: 1) The pursuit of fresh style; and 2) The drive and ability to make shit happen, no matter what.

But here’s the thing: you can’t have one without the other. If you separate these virtues, the results can be embarrassing. Style without performance is the definition of a poser, and learning a trick without good style is, for most, hardly worth doing.

Regarding the first, what it looks like is up to you, but your style better be good. You love hip hop and baggy jeans? Dope. Punk’s not dead, huh? Sick. Feeling groovy? Cool. Love Zion? Jah Rastafari. Norm-core? Bring it. There is room for it all. Pick your flavor and then let’s go skate.

Regarding the latter — making shit happen — teaches one lots of valuable life lessons. Whether the lesson be to simply get back up 37 times to try that trick again (and again), or teaching yourself how to use power tools or how to lay concrete so you can build a skate spot, the drive and motivation to manifest your reality is a skill for life. With this approach, there are only obstacles, not walls. Circumstances don’t matter; how you respond to those circumstances is the only thing that matters.

These two things work together to create a well-balanced approach to life that’s rooted in both aesthetic and ingenuity. Skateboarders learn to compete with themselves rather than with others, pushing into new and unexpected styles and territories. It’s free-spirited, experimental, and fun. This perspective begets free-thinking and new, unexpected combinations with all sorts of things. And it’s at the heart of skate fashion.

Common in the skate industry, the “shoelace belt” is the perfect example. Because skate shoes come with extra shoelaces (due to the good chance you’ll snap your laces while skating, or prefer one color over another), skateboarders saw an unspoken opportunity. Leather belts have a tendency to dig into your hip when bending down to try a trick. They’re also often big and bulky – especially the buckles – meaning they aren’t fun to fall on. Instead, by donning a shoelace as a belt, skateboarders have a thinner, lighter, and less tedious alternative to a traditional leather belt – an alternative that can still be used as an actual shoelace in a pinch. Shoelace belts are cheap, functional, and available, and they have a unique look that’s the mark of a true skateboarder of the times.

So, what started as a cheap creative solution rooted in utility became a fashion statement within the industry. This aberration became the new aesthetic standard for skateboarders globally, and once that look got a foothold, it started to get noticed and practiced outside of skateboarding as well.

All of this experimentation in pursuit of creating personal style adds up to a highly concentrated center of creativity within the skate industry that is ever-evolving. It looks inward for inspiration, not outward. It’s perfect fodder for the fashion industry as a whole, because it’s dripping with authenticity, grit, and attitude. Within it is art, emotion, and provocation. And, like all great expressions of style: there are zero fucks given.