Skateboarding has long been considered an outsider sport, representing a whole subculture of society that takes pride in its counterculture ideologies. Although skate culture did not emerge with an explicit motivation to forge its own fashion aesthetic, it has evolved to establish its own flavor and sense of style that is synonymous with the sport itself.
The skater fashion aesthetic is growing in the fashion industry. Within the past year, the global fashion engine Lyst has seen a 46% increase in searches containing the word “skater,” and since the first-ever skateboarding Olympic competitions last July, searches for Nike skateboarding products increased by 35%.
The connection between fashion and skate culture is stronger than ever, proven by its increasing influence in popular media today. Social media outlets like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok have given much broader visibility to the sport. With the rise of fashion influencers taking over these platforms — such as Evan Mock, @rayscorruptedmind and @burberry.erry — social media has become a hub for skater fashion inspiration, allowing for increased representation for the sport and the accompanying style.
This style is a growing market and subcategory of the current fashion industry, and Gen Z has been engaging with this style more than ever after increased exposure in media and from designer brands.
“Skate fashion is really any sort of clothing that is comfortable while skating and can help protect you,” Kylie Sagon, a UO sophomore and skatewear enthusiast, said. “This usually is something like big pants and a hoodie because they’re super comfortable and they provide a little bit of cushion.”
Skate fashion is known for its simple yet distinctive components. A typical skater’s closet is likely to consist of oversized graphic and logo tees, low rise baggy jeans or work wear pants, Vans or Nike sneakers designed for skating, loose fit flannels or button-ups and a selection of beanies and five-panel flat caps to top it off. Whatever the pieces may be, skatewear is defined by its durability and oversized, loose fit, primarily to be functional for skaters when they ride.
“I’d define skate fashion as dressing in a way that is both functional and fashionable,” Wyatt Holland, a UO sophomore whose personal style draws heavy inspiration from skate culture, said. “Wearing durable clothing is super important for people who skate to protect their body when they fall. This is why work wear and baggy clothing has been super popular for people to wear when they skate.”
Mixing in styles of vintage, gorpcore and workwear into his fashion, Holland appreciated the practical use of this style in combination with its fashionable taste.
“I like clothes that have a story behind them,” Holland said. “I don’t skate as much as I used to, but nice baggy vintage clothing was my favorite because I could buy it relatively cheap and not worry if it got ruined or torn up when I skated.”
What has made skater fashion even more progressive in the mainstream public eye is its influence and integration into the closets of anybody, even those who don’t skate. Social media allows anyone to join and be included in new communities, especially when it comes to gaining new fashion inspiration. Skate influencers — such as Marcos Montoya, Sagon’s personal favorite — expose their street-influenced flair to a slew of enticed users to inspire new ideas.
“The increased popularity is great for skate culture,” Holland said. “It’s helping skaters make a living off skating as well as supporting skate brands and local skate shops.”
Sagon is also a believer in skatewear’s rise to widespread popularity, as he advocates for its ability to trigger creativity in people’s style.
“It adds diversity and has influenced people to play with their own clothing style and figure out what they like to wear best,” Sagon said.
Skate culture has established its commanding influence in mainstream media and pop culture, notably through fashion. So whether you’re a hardcore skater shredding down the sidewalks or just a curious bystander, try ordering your next clothing haul in a size or two bigger, and you just might be able to pull off the classic laid-back look.