In an industry as diverse as skateboarding, the sheer number of skateboard brands on the market can be bewildering. With a seemingly never-ending amount of new brands emerging, alongside the numerous pre-existing ones, the market can certainly appear over crowded and confusing at times, which is hopefully where this list of some of our favourite skateboard brands comes in.
Whilst this A - Z is by no means exhaustive and there are many brands, both new and old that are not included, we feel that this cross section of companies represents a selection of some of the best choices out there today. The following list of 29 skateboard brands, beginning with Alien Workshop and ending with Zero, covers a huge range of the alternatives within the current market and will hopefully act as a handy guide to those dipping their feet into our world for the first time.
“They built the industry before they built their business. It was just raw entrepreneurial spirit. They took it from a fad to an actual business and, as a group, decided they were going to focus on growing the industry."
- Bob Denike on Rich Novak and the Santa Cruz Skateboard brand.
The criteria used to select the brands featured varies - some are included due to their commitment to technological innovation and for their efforts to improve the products they offer through experimentation, others are included for what they offer in terms of cultural depth and for their contributions to skateboarding culture as a whole, whether that be through graphics, video output or simple attitude.
Scroll through to see each bio, or use the guide below to jump to your brand of choice.
Alien Workshop | Almost | Anti Hero | Baker | Birdhouse | Blind | Chocolate | Creature | Death | enjoi | Element | Flip | Girl | Hockey | Isle | Krooked | Lovenskate | Magenta | Meow | Palace | Polar | PowellPeralta | Primitive | Real | Santa Cruz | Skateboard Cafe | The National | Welcome | Zero
The oldest featured was founded over 44 years ago, the newest only 2 years ago, but what each skateboard brand on this list shares is a commitment to pushing skateboarding as a culture and an activity that can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age, race, gender or any other variable you care to name.
With that said, there is a lot of information contained herein, with historical and biographical over views of each brand featured, plus information on the products they offer, their team riders and their cultural output so, without further ado, put your feet up, pour yourself a glass of something and prepare to dive in head first.
Skateboard Brands - A
Alien Workshop began life as one of only a few skateboard brands not based in the skate industry hub of Southern California, emerging from the ashes of long-standing surf and skateboard brand Gordon & Smith (aka G & S) that both Hill and Carter worked for prior to establishing their own brand.
The original Alien Workshop team consisted of: Neil Blender, Steve Claar, Scott Conklin, Rob Dyrdek, Thomas Morgan, Duane Pitre, John Pryor and Bo Turner – many of whom had formerly been team-riders for G & S during Hill and Carter’s tenure with that brand.
Alien Workshop’s distinctive graphical output, inspired by themes of UFO encounters and conspiracy theories immediately set the brand apart from its early 90’s contemporaries and established the aesthetic that Alien Workshop is still known for today.
The G & S video ‘Footage’ (created by Mike Hill and Neil Blender and released in 1990 just prior to them leaving to start their own brand) set the precedent for Alien Workshop’s later video aesthetic with the use of non-skate footage intercut throughout the skate sections and the mysterious, almost otherworldly atmosphere that permeates all of Alien Workshop’s subsequent video releases. To many people ‘Footage’ is the pre-cursor to every Alien video release that followed in its wake.
Alien Workshop’s video output is highly celebrated with each of their major releases heralding skaters who went on to be iconic faces within skateboarding.
Memory Screen (1991) features the original team, with Rob Dyrdek claiming the last section. Memory Screen is the definitive Alien Workshop release and the brand still releases board graphics celebrating the video to this day.
Timecode (1997) announced Josh Kalis as the latest AWS pro after a short stint on Toy Machine, along with the infamous Lenny Kirk section and the final appearances of original riders Bo Turner, Duane Pitrie and Scott Conklin.
Photosynthesis (2000) featuring another newly revamped team with the addition of (amongst others) Anthony Van Engelen and Jason Dill who would go on to leave Alien Workshop in 2013 to establish their own brands Fucking Awesome and Hockey.
Kalis ‘In Mono’ (2006) is widely regarded as the first single-skater video, released on DVD and featuring Josh Kalis in Barcelona.
Mind Field (2009) was the final full-length Alien Workshop video release, prior to its hiatus following the Pacific Vector Holdings buy-out 4 years later. Mind Field featured former Flip pro Arto Saari, with the last section going to Heath Kirchart.
Mind Field was filmed and edited by one-time Stereo pro skater Greg Hunt who went on to make the Vans ‘Propeller’ video.
Bunker Down (2015) represented the first full-length release from Alien Workshop since their relocation to Dayton, Ohio under the sole ownership of founder Mike Hill.
Also worthy of note is the Life-Splicing series and the Alien Workshop section from Transworld’s Cinematographer video.
Since its inception in 1990, Alien Workshop has gone through a number of changes of ownership, first being bought by Burton Snowboards in February 2008, then purchased from Burton by original Alien Workshop rider and reality TV show star Rob Dyrdek in January 2012. Following Dyrdek’s purchase of the brand and its umbrella company DNA Distribution, (also incorporating Habitat skateboards, Habitat footwear and Reflex bearings), an announcement was made in October of 2013 that Dyrdek would remain as a minority shareholder of DNA Dist, with the majority of shares purchased by Pacific Vector Holdings, (also owners of No Fear clothing and Gatorz sunglasses).
Less than a year later in May of 2014, Pacific Vector Holdings announced the closure of the Alien Workshop brands.
Happily Alien Workshop eventually resurfaced under the Tum Yeto distribution umbrella in 2015 after reportedly being re-bought by Dyrdek and gifted to Hill and Carter.
A year later in an extensive Thrasher interview, original founder Mike Hill explained that Alien Workshop had left Tum Yeto and returned to Dayton, Ohio where the brand remains under Mike Hill situated in a repurposed nuclear bunker.
More information can be found at: alienworkshop.com
Founded: by Rodney Mullen and Daewon Song in California, 2003
Created in 2003 by Dwindle Distribution stable-mates Daewon Song and Rodney Mullen after Daewon's short-lived brand Artafact folded and Mullen decided to leave former sponsor enjoi, Almost Skateboards was, from the start, a collaborative enterprise between Rodney Mullen and Daewon Song.
The original Almost team consisted of: Cooper Wilt, Chris Haslam, Ryan Sheckler and Greg Lutzka with the brand launching alongside their first full-length video - Almost: Round Three (2004), (which served as the follow up to the two previous tongue-in-cheek Rodney v's Daewon videos released by Dwindle).
Wedding Rodney Mullen's decades of technical experience regarding board shaping, concaves and the technical minutiae of skateboard manufacturing, (along with his huge fame and celebrated status as the father of modern street skating), with Daewon's irrepressibly enthusiastic persona and supernatural skateboard talents, Almost was, from the outset, a brand predicated on celebrating the 'fun' side of skateboarding whilst simultaneously pushing the technical parameters of what could be done.
Lewis Marnell became Almost's first fully-fledged amateur, an addition announced in a bonus section of Almost's ground-breaking mini ramp video 'Almost Cheese and Crackers' from (2006) that focused upon Chris Haslam and Daewon Song's pushing of the boundaries of mini ramp skating and has subsequently been credited with ushering in a new wave of technical transition skating in its wake.
Almost released their third full-length video 'Almost: 5-incher' in 2012 which again retained Almost's trademark tongue-in-cheek approach and mixed ground-breaking technical skateboarding with a celebration of curb skating.
Tragically Lewis Marnell passed away in January of 2013 from complications related to diabetes.
Aside from their prodigious online output since the release of their last full-length video, (often via Daewon Song's own Instagram account which currently has close to a million followers alone), Almost are also renowned for their experiments in board construction technology - in particular the Almost Impact Support range and the Über Light series which incorporate carbon-fibre into skateboard construction to reduce weight and increase strength/flex.
Additionally Almost are celebrated within the skateboard world for extending their pro sponsorship status to skaters from outside the USA with 2 pros on the current roster (Willow and Youness Amrani) being based in Germany and Belgium respectively.
Almost's current team consists of: Pro - Rodney Mullen, Cooper Wilt, Daewon Song, Christoph "Willow" Wildgrube and Youness Amrani with Mitchie Brusco and Yuri Facchini as official amateurs.
Find out more at: Almost Skateboards
Anti Hero Skateboards
Founded: by Julien Stranger in San Francisco, 1995
Established in 1995 by early street skating pioneer and one time Santa Monica Airlines and Underworld Element pro skater Julien Stranger, Anti Hero appeared at a pivotal time in skateboarding's development away from the inward-looking overly-technical skateboard scene of the early 1990's.
Emerging from under the Deluxe umbrella, from the outset Anti Hero represented the raw underbelly of skateboarding and offered a pure vision of what being a skateboarder meant - regardless of trends or perceived rules.
Their inaugural video release 'Fucktards' (1997) featuring the original team of Julien Stranger, Sean Young, John Cardiel, Eric J and Bob Burnquist firmly established an aesthetic that showcased every style of skating from vert to street and focused on the grimier aspects of the culture.
Anti Hero's instantly recognisable graphical output followed in the same vein with memorable graphics from the likes of Todd Francis (amongst many others) that celebrate the underbelly of the American dream and revel in the realities of street trash, political corruption, vagrancy and the darker side of life.
As the brand grew, the team changed but the underlying philosophy did not - hit the road and skate everything and anything that you encounter.
Anti Hero's video releases to date are numerous and include classics such as:
and their most recent full-length video Destination Unknown (2014) released in customary fashion with absolutely zero advertising beforehand to worldwide acclaim.
Also worthy of note is the Beauty & the Beast series - 3 tour videos made in conjunction with Girl Skateboards in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Anti Hero's most recent addition to their pro team is Brian Anderson, the world's first openly gay pro skateboarder.
Anti Hero's current team consists of: John Cardiel, Julien Stranger, Frank Gerwer, Tony Trujillo, Peter Hewitt, Andy Roy, Chris Pfanner, Tony Miorana, Raney Beres, Grant Taylor, Robbie Russo, Daan Van Linden, Brian Anderson, Div Adam and Jeff Grosso.
Find out more at: Antihero
Skateboard Brands - B
Founded: by Andrew Reynolds in California, 1999.
After leaving long time sponsor Birdhouse due to a feeling of dissatisfaction at the manner in which he himself was being marketed as a pro skater, Andrew Reynolds joined forces with a group of similarly aged pro skaters, who at the time, all lived close to each other in Huntington Beach, California in the Warner Ave housing complex and resolved to turn what had formerly been a loosely affiliated crew into a skateboard brand. Reynolds approached Tony Hawk and Per Welinder, owners of Blitz Distribution (and distributors of Birdhouse) with his idea and, rather than losing Reynolds completely, Blitz Distribution agreed to assist Reynolds with Baker and to distribute it.
The Baker name and logo predated the formation of the brand and appeared for the first time as the cover image and title of the 1998 'Baker Bootleg' video which featured some of the skaters who would go on to join the Baker Skateboards team, plus others associated with the Huntington Beach/Warner Ave skate scene.
Interestingly, an early version of the Baker Bootleg video exists with Jim Greco and Ali Boulala skating a mini ramp whilst a porno film is being shot, this version of the video never made it to mainstream distribution however.
Baker's first company video proper 'Baker 2G', featuring the original team of Mike Maldonado, Jeff Lenoce, Andrew Reynolds, Jeff Lenoce, Erik Ellington, Alex "Trainwreck" Gall, Knox Godoy, Bryan Herman, Terry Kennedy, Evan Hernandez, Jim Greco and Dustin Dollin was released in 2000, still featuring the distinctive elephant logo created by former Reynolds' associate Jay Strickland, who went on to start up Bootleg skateboards.
Following the success of Baker 2G, Baker released the following videos:
Baker has a Deathwish (2008) - which also served to announce the formation of sister company Deathwish Skateboards.
And - Bake & Destroy (2012)
Additionally Baker have released a number of Tour videos, plus a stand alone video for new addition Rowan Zorilla and, most recently an Am video announcing their latest crop of amateur riders.
In 2007 Reynolds, along with fellow Baker/Deathwish riders Erik Ellington and Jim Greco started Baker Boys Distribution bringing distribution of all their own brands under their control, along with acting as the US distributor for other brands such as the UK-founded Heroin Skateboards, Shane Heyl's Shake Junt brand and various others.
Baker are currently filming for their next full-length video, slated for release at some point in 2017.
The current Baker pro team consists of: - Andrew Reynolds, Dustin Dollin, Terry Kennedy, Bryan Herman, Justin "Figgy" Figueroa, Theotis Beasley, Don "Nuge" Nguyen, Riley Hawk, Sammy Baca, Cyril Jackson, Kevin "Spanky" Long, Dee Ostrander and Rowan Zorilla.
Find out more at: Baker Skateboards
Birdhouse Skateboards (originally Birdhouse Projects)
Founded: in California by Tony Hawk and Per Welinder in 1992
Both Birdhouse Skateboards founders Per Welinder and Tony Hawk had been high profile pro skaters for 80's behemoth Powell-Peralta under the tutelage of 1970's pro skater and film maker Stacey Peralta.
As the 90's began and skateboarding's global popularity began to wane, the type of skateboarding foregrounded by the huge companies that dominated the 80's market lost its relevance as technical street skating became the focus of the market and media, pushed in part by Steve Rocco's stable of brands and pros.
It was from within this paradigm shift that Birdhouse was born.
Birdhouse's initial video output reflected this with a shift from the high budget film productions of the 80's to self-filmed VHS to VHS transfer video editing.
Birdhouse's first video release Feasters (1992) reflected this perfectly with an almost entirely street skating focus, even from vertical superstar Tony Hawk, and a small team consisting of Willy Santos, Jeremy Klein, Steve Berra and Hawk himself.
By the mid to late 90's however, skateboarding's popularity had spiked again and Birdhouse's output reflected this with the release of their ground-breaking video The End, (1998).
Low budgets were gone, film stock returned and The End resembled the high production value releases of Hawk's former sponsor, as well as cementing the careers of Birdhouse riders such as Andrew Reynolds, Heath Kirchart, Steve Berra etc.
Notably also, Tony Hawk returned to the vertical domain that he had been forced to spurn in the early days of Birdhouse.
Since then, Birdhouse have released one other full-length video 'The Beginning' 2007, before shifting towards regular online video projects like the rest of the skate industry.
Perhaps the most notable of these to date is the Birdhouse/Thrasher 'Jaws v's the Lyon 25 stair' which saw Birdhouse pro Aaron 'Jaws' Homoki successfully melon grab the stairs attempted by Ali Boulala in Flip's Sorry video.
Birdhouse have also won Thrasher's King of the Road for 3 consecutive years in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Birdhouse Skateboards current team consists of: Tony Hawk, Aaron 'Jaws' Homoki, Ben Raybourn, Clint walker, David Loy, Lizzie Armanto, Clive Dixon, Shawn Hale and Elliot Sloan.
Find out more at: Birdhouse Skateboards
Founded: in California by Mark Gonzales, 1989
Initially founded by ex-Vision pro and probably the most influential skateboarder of all time Mark Gonzales, Blind Skateboards began life as one brand under Steve Rocco's emergent World Industries umbrella.
Named 'Blind' as a dig at Mark Gonzales' previous sponsor Vision, Blind released what is widely regarded as the most influential skate video ever made with the 1991 release of Blind: Video Days.
Featuring the original Blind team of Mark Gonzales, Jason Lee, Jordan Richter, Rudy Johnson and a tiny Guy Mariano, Video Days laid the foundation for the future progression of skateboarding and was made by Spike Jonze.
Mark Gonzales and Jason Lee had left the brand by 1993 - Lee to found Stereo Skateboards, and Gonzales to small brand 60/40. Around this time Blind added skaters Henry Sanchez, Tim Gavin, Brian Lotti and Jeron Wilson to the team.
1993 also saw the release of Blind's Tim & Henry's Pack of Lies short video - focused around the breakthrough technical skating of Tim Gavin and Henry Sanchez. This is still hailed a classic today.
In late 1993, Tim Gavin, Jeron Wilson, Guy Mariano and Rudy Johnson left Blind to form Girl Skateboards with Mike Carroll and Rick Howard.
Blind continued to release videos alongside World Industries stable-mates 101, World Industries, and Prime on multiple company releases such as New World Order (1993), Twenty Shot Sequence (1994) and Trilogy (1996).
Blind remained one of the most popular brands on the market through the 90's and 00's and released their second full-length stand alone brand video 'What If?' in 2005, featuring sections from team riders such as Ronnie Creager, Kris Markovich, James Craig, Corey Sheppard, Jake Brown and Jake Duncombe amongst others.
Blind have released four full length videos since then - The Blind Video (2009), This Is Not A Test (2011), Damn... (2013) and X2 Vision (2014) and have recently begun re-issuing classic board graphics and board shapes from their history.
Blind's current team consists of: Morgan Smith, Cody McEntire, Filipe Ortiz, Kevin Romar, Sean Sheffey, T.J. Rogers, Sewa Kroetkov, Sam Beckett and Micky Papa.
Find out more at: Blind Skateboards
Skateboard Brands - C
Chocolate Skateboards was founded a year after Girl Skateboards as its sister company under the Crailtap umbrella, following the immediate success of the Girl Skateboards brand.
Chocolate Skateboards original team consisted of: Keenan Milton, Brenes, Daniel Castillo, Paulo Diaz, Richard Mulder, Shamil Randle, Gabriel Rodriguez, and Ben Sanchez.
Their first stand-alone brand video (as opposed to appearing in Girl Skateboards videos) was Las Nueve Vidas De Paco (1995) created by part-owner of the Crailtap empire Spike Jonze and containing cinematic skits that Crailtap videos went on to become famous for.
The next stand-alone Chocolate Skateboards release came in 1999 with The Chocolate Tour, followed by Hot Chocolate in 2004. Several smaller tour-based Chocolate videos have also been released, along with sections of Chocolate skaters in Girl/Chocolate releases such as Pretty Sweet (2012).
Chocolate's graphical output is highly regarded and the brand known for producing graphic series based on street scenes relating to rider's upbringing, as well as aesthetics related to classic art and design movements.
Former Chocolate Skateboards pro Marc Johnson was publicly fired from his position by company owner Mike Carroll in 2016 following his move from Crailtap shoe brand Lakai Footwear to adidas.
Find out more at: Chocolate Skateboards
Founded: out of NHS Distribution by Russ Pope in 1994
Originally founded by former SMA team manager Russ Pope, Creature skateboards' first incarnation was somewhat short-lived with original riders being Barker Barrett, Jason Adams and Darren Navarrette.
Jason Adams and Russ Pope left to start Scarecrow skateboards in 1995.
Since its rebirth Creature has gone on to become a stalwart brand and for a while, one of the most popular brands in the world, in part due to the resurgence of interest in transition skateboarding and in equal part due to its highly distinctive B-movie inspired graphics.
Creature's latest offering 'The Creature Video' dropped in 2017 and is currently available to buy.
Creature Skateboards are also known for manufacturing some of the largest skateboards on the market due to the brand's appeal to transition skaters.
Creatures current team consists of: Al Partanen, Chris Russell, Corey Juneau, Darren Navarrette, Jimmy Wilkins, Stu Graham, David Gravette, Kevin Baekkel, Milton Martinez, Peter Raffin, RYan Reyes, Sam Hitz, Taylor Bingaman, Truman Hooker and Willis Kimbel.
Find out more at: Creature Skateboards.
Skateboard Brands - D
Founded: by Nick 'Zorlac' Orrechio in Harrow, UK, 1998
Death Skateboards is one of Britain's longest-running skater-owned skateboard brands, established by Power Distribution owner Nick Orrechio. Known for their non-serious take on skateboarding and boasting a very diverse team, Death are the self-proclaimed underdogs of the UK market.
There is a new full length Death video is the works right now, slated for 2017 release.
Death's team has always been highly varied with riders ranging from UK-based scene stalwarts such as Dan Cates and Dave Allen, through to TV celebrities like Matt Pritchard and reaching overseas with riders in the USA (Patrick Melcher) and Australia (Richie Jackson).
Death's most recent global exposure came via a Richie Jackson section that truly went viral, clocking up well over 5 million views on YouTube alone.
Death's current team includes: Dan Cates, Mark Nicolson, Richie Jackson, Dave Allen, Patrick Melcher, Matt Pritchard, Zarosh Eggleston, Benson and Ronny Calow among many, many others.
Death Skateboards are also known for their controversial graphics including the classics 'Cates is a cunt' and the distinctive skull logo which is still in their range today.
Find out more at: Death Skateboards
Skateboard Brands - E
Founded: by Marc Johnson and Rodney Mullen in California, 2000
From the outset, enjoi was intended to be a vehicle for Marc Johnson who was both the brand manager, art directors and one of the star pro skaters. Marc Johnson is responsible for the brand's name and the distinctive Panda logo that is still used by enjoi to this day.
Johnson created the original enjoi team with riders from his previous sponsor Maple Skateboards, namely Jerry Hsu and Louie Barletta, Dave Mayhew and Rodney Mullen from The A-Team, plus later additions of Bobby Puleo and a still fresh Chris Cole.
Marc Johnson left enjoi in 2003 to join Chocolate Skateboards, with Mullen leaving to co-found Almost Skateboards a year later.
In 2013 Louie Barletta took on the role of enjoi brand manager following the departure of long time employee Matt Eversole who cited disagreements with the owners of Dwindle Distribution for his departure.
Since then, enjoi have released one other full length video 'Oververt' 2014 and subsequently Ben Raemers, Zack Wallin and Thaynan Costa have been turned pro by enjoi.
enjoi Skateboards current team consists of: Ben Raemers, Cairo Foster, Caswell Berry, Clark Hassler, Jose Rojo, Louie Barletta, Nestor Judkins, Thaynan Costa, Zack Wallin, Blue Turner, Miika Adamov and Jackson Pilz.
Find out more at: enjoi
Founded: by Johnny Schillereff in 1992
Originally called Underworld Element, the Element Skateboards brand began life at a low point for skateboarding generally but emerged onto the market with a strong aesthetic that embraced the hip hop influenced skate scene of the early 90's.
Underworld Element's inaugural video offering 'Sky Pager' (1993) is rightly hailed as a classic today featuring one of the most diverse teams ever with the likes of Julien Stranger, Harold Hunter, Andy Howell and London's own Curtis McCann having sections.
Sky Pager was followed up by 'Fine Artists Vol 1.' under the Element brand name in 1994 featuring a very young Stevie Williams and what was to the last section from the supremely talented Pepe Martinez (RIP).
By the mid 90's, Schillereff had rebranded as Element Skateboards and the brand began to take on the distinctively clean aesthetic that it is still known for today.
For those wanting to know more about the evolution of the brand we suggest watching the recent Make it Count documentary which follows Schillereff and Element's journey from its inception to the present day.
Since Fine Artists Vol 1, Element have released numerous videos including Element - Third Eye View (1998), Element - Rise Up (2005) which focused on the brand's European team, and more recently, the short video Element - Rise and Shine (2011) focusing on Element team rider Nyjah Huston. Element's video output is unparalleled with releases from all over the globe - most of which can be found via the link above..
Element has also diversified their business model with ventures into retail with Element stores across the globe, advocate programs supporting artists such as Thomas Campbell and Fred 'French Fred' Mortagne, Women's fashion through the Element Women's range and the most cohesive approach to supporting European skateboarding of any brand in the industry through their dedicated European team.
The current Element Skateboards team consists of: Brandon Westgate, Nyjah Huston, Mark Appleyard, Levi Brown, Chad Tim Tim, Nick Garcia, Evan Smith, Julian Davidson, Madars Apse, Nassim Guammaz, Mason Silva, Greyson Fletcher, Tom Schaar, Chris Colbourn, Dominick Walker, Ethan Loy and Ray Barbee.
Fine out more here: Element Brand
Skateboard Brands - F
Founded: by Jeremy Fox and Ian Deacon in 1991 in the UK
As anyone with even a passing interest in UK skateboarding history should know, Flip skateboards began life as Deathbox skateboards, one of the first truly successful European based brands in skateboarding history.
Founded by English freestyle skater, engineer and skateboarding entrepreneur Jeremy Fox in 1987 (Fox is also reputed to be the first person to import skateboard specific footwear 'Pro-Keds' into the UK) Deathbox in its heyday was one of only a handful of European brands that ever controlled enough market share to be a significant player in the skateboard industry.
Featuring a pan-European team including the likes of Rune Glifberg, Andy Scott, Sean Goff, Mark van der Eng and Oxford born phenomenon Alex Moul, Deathbox was the best selling board brand across Europe in the late 80's due to constant travelling, demo's and hard graft.
Fox and Deacon re-branded Deathbox in 1991 as Flip skateboards and announced the four man team as consisting of Geoff Rowley, Rune Glifberg, Andy Scott and Tom Penny. After nearly being put out of business when a flood destroyed much of their stock, Fox, Deacon and the four team riders began to plan their move from the UK to Huntington Beach, California in order for the brand to grow further.
Fox, Deacon and the four founding team riders arrived in California in late 1994 and immediately hit the ground running, mixing distinctive magazine advertising with rider coverage that firmly established Geoff Rowley and Tom Penny in particular as forces to be reckoned with.
The release of the 411 video magazine Flip Skateboards Industry Section in 1995 further cemented Flip's riders as some of the best on the planet and forced everyone in the US industry to take notice.
Flip continued their onslaught adding new riders to the team including Ali Boulala, Arto Saari, Alex Moul (who returned to the team as an amateur) and various others receiving video and magazine coverage in the then dominant 411 video magazine and on Transworld magazine videos.
Flip released their first official video in 2002 with Flip - Sorry rightfully hailed as one of the greatest skate videos ever made.
Featuring full parts from Geoff Rowley, Rune Glifberg, Tom Penny, Arto Saari, Ali Boulala and Bastien Salabanzi and introduced by John Lydon of the Sex Pistols - Sorry set a new standard for every video that came afterwards.
Since the release of their last full-length video, founder team member Geoff Rowley left the team, along with Mark Appleyard (who left for Element) and Bastien Salabanzi (who left for Primitive skateboards).
Flip is also renowned for being the company with most Thrasher Skater of the Year awards with Geoff Rowley, Mark Appleyard, Arto Saari and David Gonzalez all winning the SOTY trophy.
Flip are also known for experimenting successfully with differing board technologies include ribbed boards known as the New Wave construction and the P2 board construction for increased pop.
Flip's current team consists of: Tom Penny, David Gonzalez, Luan Oliveira, Arto Saari, Lance Mountain, Rune Glifberg, Bob Burnquist, Louie Lopez, Curren Caples, Alec Majerus, Matt Berger, Ben Nordberg, Denny Pham, Keegan Palmer and Alexander Risvad.
For more info go to: Flip Skateboards.
Skateboard Brands - G
Girl Skateboards is the foundation of all the other brands under the Crailtap umbrella (Royal Trucks, Chocolate Skateboards, Lakai footwear etc) and was established by Mike Carroll and Rick Howard during a mass exodus of pro skaters from Steve Rocco's brands (Plan B, Blind, 101, World Industries) reputably inspired after arguments of wheel sales royalties.
Howard himself has stated that the creation of Girl Skateboards and Crailtap was intended to,
"Give pro skateboarders a future. Take Royal, for instance: when Guy Mariano and Rudy Johnson's legs don't work anymore, at least what they've done for skateboarding and their ideas can continue with something they can fall back on. All the Girl Distribution companies are based around people who have helped Girl get to where it is today."
When it first began, Girl Skateboards team consisted of Rick Howard, Mike Carroll, Jovontae Turner, Guy Mariano, Rudy Johnson, Tim Gavin, Tony Ferguson, Sean Sheffey, and Jeron Wilson, all of whom, (with the exception of Tony Ferguson) had previously been pro (or at least very prominent) riders for one of Steve Rocco's companies.
From the outset Girl Skateboards was a brand predicated on technically progressive street skating with a heavy emphasis on style and each one of their company videos is still held up today as marking a moment of progression for skateboarding as a whole.
Girl Skateboard's first release was 'Goldfish' (1993), followed by the iconic 'Mouse' (1996), which is popularly regarded as one of the best skate videos ever made, with former child-prodigy Guy Mariano's last section often cited as the skateboarding's communities most celebrated individual skater section.
Goldfish and Mouse established Girl's video aesthetic with numerous movie skits inter-cut with the skating, including the infamous Eric Koston as Charlie Chaplin skit. Pioneering skate photographer and film-maker Spike Jonze (also responsible for Blind Skateboard's Video Days) as a part-owner of Crailtap has been involved in the making of all of their videos to date and it is his cinematic approach that lends Girl's video output its uniqueness.
Girl's next full-length video came in 2003 with the release of 'Yeah Right' which introduced a crew of younger Girl riders including Paul Rodriguez and Jereme Rogers, along with announcing videographer Ty Evans addition to the Crailtap family. From 2002 onwards, Ty Evans had been the main driving force behind Crailtap's video output as Spike Jonze's Hollywood directorial career took off.
After numerous tour-based releases and the epic Lakai footwear video 'Fully Flared' (2007), Girl Skateboard's last (to date) full-length company release came in the form of 'Pretty Sweet' (2012) which, aside from showcasing ground-breaking skateboarding, also set a new standard in terms of production values with Ty Evans employing cinematic camera technologies to capture the skateboarding, as well as the skits.
The Crailtap camp are currently working on the release of the latest Lakai footwear video 'The Flare' due for release in Summer 2017.
Since the release of Pretty Sweet, two members of the original Girl Skateboards team Eric Koston and Guy Mariano have left the brand to start their own brand Numbers Skateboards.
Girl Skateboards current team consists of: Brandon Biebel, Andrew Brophy, Mikemo Capaldi, Mike Carroll, Rick Howard, Cory Kennedy, Sean Malto, Rick McCrank, Jeron Wilson, Simon Bannerot and Tyler 'Manchild' Pacheo.
Find out more at: Girl Skateboards
Skateboard Brands - H
Hockey Skateboards AKA Eyes without a face
Founded: primarily by Anthony van Engelen (AVE) and Jason Dill in LA, 2015
Hockey is one of the newest brands on this list and exists as a sister brand to Jason Dill's Fucking Awesome.
Following Jason Dill and AVE leaving long time sponsors Alien Workshop back in 2013, Dill's 13-year-old Fucking Awesome brand, which was formerly a clothing brand, became a board brand and began to add riders such as Dylan Rieder (RIP), Gino Iannucci, Jason Dill, Kevin Bradley, Nakel Smith, Sean Pablo, Sage Elsesser, Tyshawn Jones and Aiden Mackey.
In 2015, Hockey was announced to the world as Fucking Awesome's sister brand with the release of their first eponymous video clip 'Hockey' featuring riders John Fitzgerald and Donovon Piscopo. Since that first release Hockey have added former Anti Hero rider Andrew Allen to their team, along with Ben Kadow, a move announced in their second video - Hockey II.
Hockey have since released further videos in conjunction with Fucking Awesome, including 2016's Fight/Fuck II featuring riders from both brands in New York and Philadelphia.
Nominally, Hockey is Anthony Van Engelen's brand, whereas Fucking Awesome is Jason Dill's, although there is a constant cross-over between the output of both. The mysterious Jimi Britches is in charge of team management and logistics and former Alien Workshop filmer Benny Magliano in charge of visual output.
Hockey is deliberately opaque in terms of information and relies on cryptic Instagram posts from Anthony Van Engelen and related riders to announce their latest moves.
Both Hockey and Fucking Awesome are seen as leading brands within the independent skater-owned brand renaissance of the last 5 years.
More information can be found at: Hockey Skateboards
Skateboard Brands - I
Founded: by Nick Jensen, Chris Aylen and Paul Shier in London, 2013
Emerging from the ashes of iconic UK brand Blueprint Skateboards after the entire Blueprint team quit the team following a Canadian buy out of the brand in 2013, Isle Skateboards is the brainchild of former Blueprint pro skaters Nick Jensen and Paul Shier.
Initially launched via a series of short films on the Dazed and Confused site, Isle Skateboards have since grown into a popular brand with a market stretching across the world.
Film-maker Jacob Harris made their first and to date only full-length video 'Vase' which was released in 2015 to international acclaim, winning awards both in Europe and the USA for its idiosyncratic and definitely British feel, despite the international appeal of the brand.
Subsequently Jacob Harris has gone on to produce a series of videos for Thrasher magazine called 'Atlantic Drift' featuring members of the Isle Skateboards team and associates, plus an Isle Skateboards section for the recent Transworld Magazine video.
Isle's graphical output is more high-brow than most skateboard brands, due in part to being overseen by rider Nick Jensen who is an accomplished fine artist in his own right.
More information can be found at: Isle Skateboards.
Skateboard Brands - K
Founded: by Mark Gonzales through Deluxe Distribution in San Francisco, 2002
Whilst Krooked is nominally Mark Gonzales' brand, much of the logistics work is handled in-house at Deluxe Dustribution with art work and ideas contributed by Gonzales and then assembled into useable graphics by Deluxe co-owner Tommy Guerrero.
Tommy Guerrero has described this process as,
"Happening in a variety of ways...most of Mark's art that arrives are collaged, a bit from a napkin a bit from a shopping bag – literally. It's always a challenge to create graphics from this but there's a consistency/theme to Mark's work. His "brush" tends to be a Sharpie so that helps with continuity."
Krooked have pioneered a number of new approaches within the traditional remit of a 'skateboard brand' including 'Gest' boards awarded to friends and skateboarding luminaries who don't officially ride for the brand, establishing a market for cruiser boards through the Zip-zinger series and experimenting with video formats.
Krooked's video release to date include 'Krooked Kronichles' (2006), the experimental 'Krooked - Gnar Gnar' (2007) only released on VHS in limited numbers, predating the explosion of interest in the outdated VHS format as foregrounded by brands such as Palace skateboards some years later, 'Krooked - Naughty' (2008) and Krooked - Krook3D (filmed in both regular and 3D formats) (2010).
Original Krooked rider Van Wastell tragically passed away in 2008.
More information can be found at: Krooked Skateboards
Skateboard Brands - L
Founded: in London by Stuart Smith, 2001
What began life as a screen-printing business back in 2001 has organically morphed into one of the UK's most celebrated low-key bedroom brands. After completing a screen-printing and fine arts degree Stuart Smith set up Lovenskate to offer bespoke screen printing services to the skateboard industry and beyond from inside his parents garage. Over time, Lovenskate grew and formally metamorphosed into a skateboard brand back in 2001.
Stuart's mantra since the brand's inception has been to produce skateboard graphics in a traditional manner and to support the scene around him from the grass roots up. As he stated in an interview in 2015,
"As far as the actual look of the vast majority of contemporary graphics goes, I’d say that it feels to me as if something has been lost. It’s down to what you can do with modern heat transfer printing techniques – you can literally just take a photograph from the Internet and print it identically straight onto a skateboard. Speaking personally, there’s very little to challenge you there: either from the point of view of creating graphics, or from the consumer’s perspective. Whereas back when screen-printing was the norm, every time a graphic was produced the artist was physically cutting the key line out by hand. The key line is the final black line that forms the outline of whatever it is that you’re printing and ties in all the other colours together. You can see this in the early Sean Cliver graphics for example, where it’s clear that he has hand cut the key lines as precisely as he was able to, but looked at from today’s perspective they’re not perfectly precise, which is what gives Cliver’s earliest stuff its specific look in my opinion."
Lovenskate have produced a number of full-length videos throughout the 16 years of their existence, including the 2015 release Lovenskate - Smorgas'board although more recently they have followed the direction of skate media in general and concentrated on releasing shorter, rider-specific clips such as Jordan Thackeray's Welcome clip and more recently the Batch Capture series.
Lovenskate, along with other UK-based independent skateboard brands Satta and A Third Foot Skateboards, were also featured in the recent mini documentary 'The Unsung' which followed the people behind each brand to get an insight into their processes and motivations.
Lovenskate are also notable for being the only UK skateboard brand to currently produce a pro model for a female skater, with the release of UK female skate pioneer Lucy Adams' first pro model in 2017.
More information can be found at: Lovenskate
Skateboard Brands - M
Founded: by Vivien Feil and Soy Panday in Paris, 2009/2010
Magenta Skateboards are one of only a few mainland European based brand in this list, founded in Paris and currently based in Bordeaux, France. Magenta's outlook on skateboarding as a cultural phenomenon, and consequently their output in terms of both products and video, is deliberately at odds with the prevailing conception of skateboarding as represented by most major brands.
On the creation of the Magenta Skateboards brand, Vivien Feil stated,
"The skateboard industry’s current focus on performance by displaying almost exclusively difficult tricks, whether technical or dangerous, is not something we relate to on our daily experience on our boards. We feel that skateboarding has much more to offer than being only a sport. It has cultural, social, artistic, sociological values and much more and it seems all these aspects are being widely overlooked by the industry. Magenta is our outlet for representing the wide spectrum of possibilities that skateboarding carries within itself."
You can read the full Vivien Feil interview here.
Magenta's focus is on celebrating the inter-connectivity of skateboarding globally, so despite the existence of a traditional team with pro riders, their video output often includes skaters and scenes connected to the brand through friendship and like-mindedness, as opposed to simply being members of the team.
Magenta's video output directly relates to the philosophy underlying the brand with less emphasis on the stair-counting and technical progression common to most company releases and a focus instead on celebrating the joy of riding a skateboard and interacting with all aspects of street architecture, rather than traditional 'spots'.
To date Magenta have released six stand alone videos, all of which remain true to Vivien Feil's statement above - these include:
Magenta - Microcosme (2010), Magenta - Hill Street Blues (2011), Magenta - SF Hill Street Blues 2 (2012), Magenta - Panic In Gotham (2013), Magenta - Soleil Levant (2013) and Magenta - Just Cruise (2015).
The vast majority of Magenta's video output is created by Yoan Taillandier whose distinctive filming/editing style has become intrinsically linked with Magenta's aesthetic. Taillandier is also responsible for the celebrated Minuit video releases.
More information can be found at: Magenta Skateboards.
Founded: by in California by Lisa Whitaker, 2012
As the only female-focused and female-owned skateboard brand on this list, Meow Skateboards is notable for boldly stepping into the male-dominated skateboard industry and succeeding where other similar projects have failed. Prior to establishing the Meow Skateboard Brand, Lisa Whitaker was already a driving force within female skateboarding as the founder of the largest online resource for female skateboarding in the world - Girls Skate Network.
Following the success of the Girls Skate Network site due to increased visibility of female skateboarding thanks to Social Media, Whitaker and her partner decided to start Meow Skateboards to provide a brand vehicle for female skateboarding that focused on women.
Meow Skateboards current team consists of: Pro - Lacey Baker, Vanessa Torres and Mariah Duran with the Am team comprising - Kristine Beling, Shari White, Nika Washington, Annie Guglia, Savannah Headden and Marissa Martinez.
Meow regularly release video content via their YouTube channel with Pro rider Lacey Baker also recently releasing her 'My World' video part in association with Thrasher magazine, along with another part announcing her signing to the Nike SB team shortly afterwards.
Lisa Whitaker's pro-active stance in promoting female skateboarding has also served as inspiration for other female-focused skate communities across the globe, including the UK's own Girls Skate UK network.
Read an interview with Lisa Whitaker here for more background on Meow Skateboards and Girls Skate Network.
More information can be found at: Meow Skateboards.
Skateboard Brands - P
Founded: in London by Lev Tanju, Marshall Taylor and Gareth Skewis, 2009
Palace Skateboards rise has been meteoric and is almost unparalleled in recent UK skateboarding history with the brand blowing up almost immediately following its establishment by Southbank fixture Lev Tanju 8 years ago.
Emerging initially via a series of spoof news bulletins created by Lev Tanju called 'PWBC Global Skateboard News' and hosted on the don'twatchthat.tv site, the aesthetic that the Palace Skateboards Brand would adopt was firmly established in these early videos. Sadly now mostly deleted from the Internet, aside from a few 'best of' videos, the PWBC News series were a pre-cursor for the route that the brand would adopt with its comedic take on the faux-seriousness of the Skateboard Industry of the time, an emphasis on the UK grime music scene, and the introduction of numerous characters within each news segment, including Francis Shower Face who still appears in Palace releases to this day, along with snippets of footage from various sources.
With the PWBC (AKA the Palace Waywards Boys Choir - a collection of friends living together in a dilapidated flat near Waterloo Station, London) firmly established as a cultural phenomenon, the Palace Skateboards brand became the natural next step.
The earliest iteration of the Palace team featured riders Olly Todd, Charlie Young and Lucien Clarke and was announced via a mysterious skate clip featuring esoteric imagery, VHS skate footage and the XX song 'Crystalised' - again though, this video has seemingly disappeared from the Internet.
As Palace's reputation began to grow, the brand added more riders, including ex-Stereo Skateboards pro Benny Fairfax, ex-Blueprint Skateboards pros Danny Brady and Chewy Cannon and Southbank mainstays Karim Bakhtaoui and Blondey McCoy. From the outset, Palace's approach was to mix a core skate team with a heavy emphasis on soft goods which almost immediately propelled their appeal way beyond the confines of the skateboard market and expedited their growth into one of the biggest names in the street wear arena.
With the ubiquitous and instantly recognisable triangular 'Tri-Ferg' logo, based on the Penrose triangle and created by Lev Tanju's friend and former Marc Jacobs designer Fergus Purcell blowing up, Palace quickly became one of the most desired brands in the highly lucrative street wear market.
Subsequently, Palace have worked on collaborations with brands such as Umbro, adidas, Reebok, as well as releasing a series of graphics inspired by John Martin in association with Tate Britain, which were included in a gallery exhibition.
In terms of their skateboard output, Palace have released numerous videos online since their inception, including Gangbanging at Ground Zero (2011), Niggaz with Altitude (2013), a Danny Brady welcome clip 'Definitely Brady' in 2014 and most recently, Very Nice in 2016 featuring newer team riders Shawn Powers and early viral internet star Jamal Smith. Palace are currently working on a full-length video.
Additionally Palace opened their first retail store in Soho, London in 2015, followed by the announcement of a New York based Palace Store which opened in 2017 with an online advert featuring actors Leo Fitzpatrick and Jonah Hill.
Find out more at: Palace Skateboards.
Polar Skate Co
Founded: in Malmo, Sweden by Pontus Alv, 2011/12
Following stints on the US brands Mad Circle and Arcade and a pro model on the then hugely popular European brand Cliche skateboards, Pontus Alv quit his board sponsor and moved back to his hometown of Malmo, Sweden in the early to mid 00's. During this time Pontus took what might be called a creative hiatus but which would be more accurately explained as a re-connection with his roots. After returning to Malmo, Alv became heavily involved in building and creating the scene there, working alongside friends to build a number of DIY skatespots through the city such as the now legendary Savanna-side and Steppeside projects.
At the same time Pontus was working on independent film projects which ended up being released to global acclaim as the highly celebrated 'Strongest of the Strange' (2005) and 'In search of the Miraculous' (2010).
These videos blurred boundaries between skateboard videos, art projects and documentaries and laid the aesthetic foundations for the skateboard brand Polar Skate Co, which Pontus Alv would go on to found shortly after the release of his second independent film.
From the outset, Polar Skate Co was a brand established in defiance of the prevailing norms of the skateboard industry, in both a performative sense and in a literal sense, with the brand which would quickly go on to resonate globally remaining based in the city of Malmo, Sweden where it was founded.
Pontus has talked many times about his rejection of the industry expectations of stuntman skateboarding and a view of skateboarding itself predicated on danger and spectacle and of how Polar's ethos was intended to reflect a more relatable form of skateboarding that would resonate to all skateboarders.
As he put it in an interview with TWS magazine in 2015:
"I think it’s just also like, people want to have fun. If you watch say those types of Street League type of skateboarders, who are super amazing skateboarders that can push these crazy tricks down rails and stairs, like switch tre down fifteen stairs or whatever trick they do — it’s amazing to see that level of skating, but if you are an average Joe living in a small town you’re just like, “I’m never going to be able to kickflip back noseblunt twenty-stair rails". That’s always the biggest trick. If you ask me it’s like, “What videos do you really enjoy?" The videos that you can some how relate to. Like, “Hey, I could actually do some of these tricks." You connect to it and you feel like you can picture yourself being a part of the whole thing. When people put out these amazing super stunt skateboarding videos, pushing it to the furthest level possible, that’s rad in one sense, but to me personally as a kid I could never in my wildest dreams believe that I could do that too. I respect it. I understand it. But does it make me want to go skate? No."
Polar's focus on its European roots and representing a type of skateboarding that everyone could relate to, plus Pontus' masterful approach to video-making and product, created a groundswell of popularity for the brand which has retained its momentum. Mixing a heavy global team with an eclectic approach to soft goods, Polar is now viewed as one of the most influential brands in the skateboard industry as a whole.
Polar's inaugural video release, The Polar Skate Co. Promo - Wallride Oh Yeah Oh Yeah Oh Yeah (2012) with the tagline 'Inspire others to inspire themselves' featuring Pontus, fellow Swedes Oskar Rozenberg and Davd Stenstrom, Polish rider Michal Juras, Dane Hjalte Halberg, Tjark Thielker and original rider and Polar artistic contributor Jakke Ovgren.
The promo was followed in late 2012 by another Polar Skate Co. Promo - No complies & wallrides & shuvits again filmed in and around Malmo, Sweden as well as Copenhagen, Denmark, New York and London, featuring skaters who appeared in the original promo, plus new addition and former Uk-born Blueprint skater Jerome Campbell and New York based Aaron Herrington who would go on to turn pro for Polar.
In the years following these two promos, Polar would go on to release a number of short video projects, including several collaborative video and product launches alongside Converse, most notably 'Trocadéro Days' (2013) and its follow up 'Manhattan Days' (2014) along with co-branded Cons x Polar product.
Polar released their first full-length video 'I like it here inside my mind. Don't wake me this time.' in 2016 to global acclaim, featuring team riders Pontus, Hjalte Halberg, Nick Boserio, Aaron Herrington, Kevin Rodrigues, Jerome Campbell, Oskar Rozenberg-Hallberg, David Stenström, Dane Brady, Paul Grund, Roman Gonzalez and Michal Juras.
More information can be found at: Polar Skate Co
Founded: by George Powell and Stacy Peralta in Santa Barbara, California, 1978
Established during the peak moment of skateboarding's 1970's boom by aerospace engineer George Powell and 70's skate pro skater and member of the original Zephyr Competition Team (aka the Z-Boys) Stacy Peralta, Powell-Peralta went on to dominate the skateboard market for over a decade.
George Powell's background in engineering, plus his previous experiments with the construction of skateboard components, when teamed up with Peralta's flair for marketing and eye for talent made Powell-Peralta an almost unstoppable force in the first decade of the company's existence.
Peralta put together the Powell skate team under the Bones Brigade moniker, employed the services of photographer, artist and visionary C R Stecyk III and was the talent scout responsible for bringing skaters such as Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen, Lance Mountain, Mike Vallely, Guy Mariano, Tommy Guerreo and inventor of the ollie Alan 'Ollie' Gelfand, (amongst many others) to the attention of the global skateboard community.
Powell-Peralta, (under Stacy Peralta's direction) also pioneered the skate video as we know it today producing such classics as The Bones Brigade Video Show (1984) Future Primitive (1985) The Search for Animal Chin (1987) Public Domain (1988), Ban This (1989), Propaganda (1990) and Celebrity Tropical Fish (1991).
In the contest oriented skateboard scene of the 1980's, the Powell-Peralta team and the brand itself was omnipresent, with audiences more surprised when Bones Brigade members Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen failed to place first, than when they did, such was their predominance of the skate scene.
However, with a global slump in skateboard sales in the late 80's/early 90's, the rise of street skating and the concerted efforts of upstart brands such as those from Steve Rocco's World Industries umbrella to unseat Powell-Peralta from its market position, the brand began to lose traction.
By 1991, many of the Bones Brigade had left to start up their own brands, with Peralta parting with business partner George Powell to embark on a Hollywood directorial career, leading to the formation of the Powell Corporation.
George Powell continued in business as the Powell Corporation and the brand released numerous videos throughout the 90's and 00's, including titles such as Suburban Diners (1994), Scenic Drive (1995) and FUN (2009), whilst simultaneously kick starting the careers of many skaters who went on to become household names such as Chris Senn, Adam McNatt and the UK's own Danny Wainwright, along with stalwart Bones Brigade member Steve Caballero who stayed with the Powell brand throughout.
Stacy Peralta and George Powell rekindled their business relationship in 2010 and have since been extremely successful once more, particularly through the re-release of many of their classic legacy skateboards, assisted by the return of the legendary graphic artist Vernon Courtlandt Johnson (aka VCJ) who was responsible for creating many of the brand's most iconic board graphics.
Powell-Peralta is also noteworthy for producing what are universally recognised as the highest quality bearings and wheels on the skateboard market under the Bones Bearings and Bones Wheels brands, with George Powell's immense technical know-how rivaling anyone else within the skate industry.
Powell Peralta are also one of only a few brands still manufacturing every product they sell, as well as catering for some of the more niche markets within skateboarding such as freestyle and longboard skateboarding.
More information can be found at: Powell-Peralta
Founded: in Los Angeles by Paul Rodriguez, 2014
Following Paul Rodriguez departure from Plan B skateboards in July 2013, Rodriguez created a run of 500 custom-made gold boards for a one-off sale - these boards sold out in a matter of minutes and the realisation of the scale of his personal brand convinced Paul Rodriguez to do something he's been cosidering for some time.
Speaking in an interview in 2015, Paul Rodriguez explained his reasons for launching the Primitive brand thus,
"I just felt like it was a window of opportunity within my own career. I might be one of those lucky few who’d be able to do that, start my own brand and move on. That window of opportunity only upholds for so long in skateboarding before you miss your prime, so I’d be kicking myself in the ass five years from now looking back and saying 'how come I didn’t capitalise on that? Here I am, an older skater and not in my prime anymore and I have nothing still connecting me to skateboarding'"
Primitive Skateboards launched with Paul Rodriguez, Carlos Ribeiro and Nick Tucker as the original team riders, with the addition of some of the biggest names in the global pro circuit soon afterwards.
In an interview with Canadian podcast The Bunt, Rodriguez explains his motivations for having his own brand further, citing a desire to offer opportunities to other up and coming skaters and to give back to the scene that helped him become massively successful.
Primitive's savvy use of Social Media, along with a never-ending output of video projects has since cemented their status as one of the world's biggest skateboard brands.
Of special to UK readers is the Primitive x Get Lesta collaboration which happened in 2016 whereby US Primitive riders Devine Calloway, Trent McClung and Diego Najera traveled over the UK to skate and film with UK skate crew Get Lesta to promote a collaborative range of Get Primitive product.
More information can be found at: Primitive Skateboards
Skateboard brands - R
Founded: in San Francisco by Tommy Guerrero and Jim Thiebaud (with support from Fausto Vitello), 1990
Founded by former Powell-Peralta riders Tommy Guerrero and Jim Thiebaud during the early 90's exodus of former pros from the brand, Real Skateboards stands as one of the first, and definitely the most enduring, of all the skater-owned skateboard brands formed during the early 90's.
With street pioneers Thiebaud and Guerrero at the helm, from the very outset, Real was clearly destined to be a brand which led where others followed.
With an original team featuring street skating originals such as Guerrero and Thiebaud alongside technical pioneers of the early 90's such as Salman Agah, James Kelch and Henry Sanchez (before his move to Blind skateboards) Real began life as a skateboard brand on the forefront of the rapid progression within early 90's skateboarding.
With distinctive graphics, often touching upon controversial issues such as racism within American society via the infamous Jim Thiebaud 'Lynch the KKK' graphic designed by Natas Kaupas and Kevin Ancell, and classic Jeff Klindt graphics such as the James Kelch 'James' board, which was recently re-released, Real's aesthetic has always been instantly recognisable.
Real's inaugural video release was the eponymous The Real Video, released in 1993 and featuring Real's original team (minus Henry Sanchez who had left for Blind skateboards by time of release) and widely celebrated as a classic, particularly for Salman Agah's final section which was one of the first to feature switchstance skateboarding.
Following The Real video, the brand released full-length videos at regular intervals, with each release being celebrated as a classic overview of the era involved. 1997's Non-Fiction, featuring founder Jim Thiebaud and a revamped team including the likes of Mark Gonzales, Keith Hufnagel, Joey Bast, Drake Jones and one-time Real female rider Jamie Reyes is seen these days as one of the precursor's of skateboarding's general shift away from unbridled technical progression towards a heavier emphasis on style.
Real's video output continued with Kicked out of Everywhere (1999), Real to Reel (2001) and Seeing Double (2002). Following these full-length releases Real adopted a different approach to video making with a number of shorter tour-based and remix video releases which chimed with the shorter attention spans of the Internet generation - these include titles such as Real 'Remix Project V1.1 (2007) and Real 'From the Vaults V.1 (2007).
Real Skateboards are also notable for the brand's deep involvement in raising awareness and funds for charitable concerns related to the skateboard community across the globe with the brand supporting everything from DIY skatepark builds, to releasing bespoke Real boards for fallen members of the skateboarding community including releasing a board in memory of UK skate shop owner and stalwart of the British skate scene Steven 'Bingo' Binks back in 2011.
Real Skateboards current pro team consists of: Peter Ramondetta, Dennis Busenitz, Ishod Wair, James Hardy, Jake Donnelly, Davis Torgeson, Justin Brock, Chima Ferguson, Ernie Torres, JT Aultz, Kyle Walker, Robbie Brockel, Keith Hufnagel and Max Schaff.
More information on everything that Real Skateboards is involved in can be found here: Real Skateboards
Skateboard Brands - S
Santa Cruz Skateboards
Founded: in Santa Cruz, California by Richard Novak, Doug Haut, and Jay Shuirman, 1973
As the oldest brand on this list, Santa Cruz rightly holds the distinction of being the oldest skateboard brand in the industry and thus, the brand which effectively created the modern skateboard brand as we know it today. Founded as part of NHS Inc. a Santa Cruz based skateboard distribution company over 40 year ago, Santa Cruz as a brand has played a large part in every era of skateboarding history since its inception.
Santa Cruz Skateboard's iconic Screaming Hand logo was designed by founding skate artist Jim Phillips in 1985 and is the most instantly recognisable of all Santa Cruz multifarious graphic imagery.
Founder Richard Novak is also widely credited as creating the skateboard industry as we know it today by establishing skateboarding as a separate culture and business by wrestling the sport away from the control of the roller-skating industry in the early 1970's and promoting it through sponsoring events, supporting the nascent skateboard magazine culture, pioneering technologies within skateboard, truck and wheel construction and establishing the edgy cultural identity of skateboarding from the very beginning.
Quoted in a 2013 interview celebrating the brand's 40th anniversary, current CEO Bob Denike described Novak and co's contribution to skateboarding history thus:
"They built the industry before they built their business," said Denike who became one of the early product testers as a 15-year-old when he was approached by Novak and Shuirman in a skateboard park. "It was just raw entrepreneurial spirit. They took it from a fad to an actual business and, as a group, decided they were going to focus on growing the industry. If they were good businessmen, they would get a piece of that pie."
With a stable of pro riders stretching back as far as the 1970's Santa Cruz Skateboards laid the foundation for the careers of many of skateboarding's most celebrated heroes such as 1970's pro Steve Olson, Steve Alba and Jeff Grosso, all of whom are viewed today as founding fathers of modern skateboarding.
Alongside intense innovation in terms of the manufacturing process of every component of the commercially available skateboard, Santa Cruz also pioneered the concept of the skateboard video as a marketing tool for both the brand itself, and to spread interest in skateboarding as an activity across the globe.
Santa Cruz's earliest videos Wheels of Fire (1987), Streets on Fire (1989), Speed Freaks (1989) A Reason for Living (1990) and Risk It (1990) are viewed today as paradigm-shifting releases which promoted interest in skateboarding globally by giving a platform to every kind of skateboarding that existed, from street and vert skating, through to the more niche genres such as slalom, downhill and freestyle, whilst at the same time retaining the aesthetic of skateboarding's subcultural position in society.
Like Powell-Peralta, Santa Cruz's market share suffered following the explosion of smaller independent brands in the early 1990's, (parodied in their 1992 video 'Big Pants Small Wheels') and as vert skating died as the most popular form of skateboarding to be overtaken by technically focused and freestyle inspired street skating.
However, the diversity of Santa Cruz skateboard's stake in the skateboard business meant that they easily survived the mid-90's slump in popularity and returned with an newly invigorated team and powered on with video after video from the mid-90's to the present day. Similarly to Powell-Peralta, Santa Cruz are also notable for their Veteran Division (documented in their 2007 release 'V Day') celebrating pro riders such as Keith Meek, Tom Knox and Eric Dressen from earlier eras of Santa Cruz's existence. Santa Cruz Skateboards current line of product boasts many re-released classic boards from earlier eras of the brand and are as popular, if not more so, than they were originally, thanks to an explosion in the nostalgia and collector's markets within skateboarding.
Santa Cruz Skateboards current team consists of: Blake Johnson, Erick Winkowski, Mikey Curtis, Tom Remillard, Dylan Williams, Jason Jessee, Steve Alba, Tristan Rennie, Emmanuel Guzman, Josh Borden, Tom Asta, Eric Dressen, Kevin Braun and Tom Knox.
More information can found at: Santa Cruz Skateboards
Founded: by Rich Smith and Andrew Makepeace in Bristol, England, 2012
Initially beginning life as the title of a Bristol skate video in 2008, Skateboard Cafe began life as a skateboard brand 4 years later with Bristol-based skaters Rich Smith and Andrew Makepeace at the helm.
Mixing a clean and colourful graphical identity with tongue-in-cheek parodies of existing brand logos (most notably the now largely discontinued Starbucks homage), Skateboard Cafe have carved a niche within the flooded UK skateboard market largely based on their skater-owned status, the lack of conceit in their identity and a regular and well-received output of video content.
Skateboard Cafe's video releases to date include the initial Skateboard Cafe Promo (2012) featuring the original team of Harry Ogilvie, Shaun Currie, Josh Arnott, Tom Gibbs, Louis Marshall and Pat Garrahy plus associated friends. This was followed by Skateboard Cafe's first full-length video 'Alfresco' in 2015, followed by a rash of single rider and tour-based video releases since. Skateboard Cafe are also notable for conducting every aspect of their business in-house with all video, design and product sourcing undertaken by the owners, as well as using video look-books to promote each new drop of Skateboard Cafe product.
More information can be found at: Skateboard Cafe
Skateboard Brands - T
The National Skateboard Co
Founded: in Leeds, UK by Ryan Gray, Tom Brown, Tom Harrison and Sam Barratt, 2012
The National Skateboard Co, (or TNSC as it is also known) emerged into the national skateboard consciousness via a series of anonymously delivered T-shirts and stickers to leading skateboard retailers and known figures within the skate scene leading to an amusing 113-page thread on the Sidewalk Mag forum.
The National Skate Co's approach to marketing retained this air of intrigue with the release of their first video, 'The National Skateboard Co. Promo' in 2013 with minimal promotion beforehand. This promo video featured lo-fi VX2000 footage of original team members Thomas Harrison, Danijel Stankovic, David Mackey, Joshua Young, Vaughan Jones and Neil Smith interspersed with found footage and black and white news reel clips.
The brand's next release came in the form of a short video filmed during a team trip Warsaw, Poland - The National Skateboard Co visit The Phoenix City, again featuring founding team riders Neil Smith, Danijel Stankovic, David Mackey, Thomas Harrison, Josh Young, Vaughan Jones, with the additional of Belfast's Denis Lynn.
There followed a video release containing a remix of archive footage of Glaswegian born ex Blueprint pro skater Colin Kennedy who was awarded a guest board by The National Skate Co in 2015 that referenced an earlier Irn Bru graphic of Kennedy's released in 1996 during his time on Panic Skateboards. Additionally, The National Skate Co released another limited edition homage series of product to celebrate the classic 1997 UK video Playing Fields with the blessing of those involved in making the video originally.
Subsequently, The National Skateboard Co released their first full-length video, premiered in London in 2016,
The National Skate Co.'s current team consists of: Vaughan Jones, David Mackey, Daniel West, Andrew Evans, Neil Smith, Danijel Stankovic, Denis Lynn, Tom Tanner, Gregoire Cuadrado, Joshua Young and Thomas Harrison.
More information can be found at: The National Skate Co.
Skateboard Brands - W
Founded: by Jason Celaya in California, 2010
Welcome Skateboards predates the explosion in smaller, independently owned US-based skateboard brands by a couple of years, starting as it did in 2010.
Welcome Skateboard's brand approach from the beginning was to offer something that at the point in time of Welcome Skateboards creation, simply did not exist in the wider skateboard market.
Welcome Skateboards offer 38 proprietary board shapes with everything from the industry standard 'popsicle' shape through to the 80's inspired shapes, boards with shovel-shaped noses, boards with non-standard wheelbases, and everything in between.
Company owner Jason Celaya explained the company's now hugely successful approach to their product in a 2016 Jenkem Magazine interview as:
"We make 38 different proprietary shapes, and what is more important than the shape is the leverage that we design on each board. The mold we use, and where we drill on each mold is the magic. Do all popsicles ride the same? Of course not. We are a step beyond almost everyone with that because I am nerdy about how stuff rides and performs. This is what our riders skate and love, we aren’t trying to capture some demographic.
I’m pretty sure we spend more time and energy on our boards than any other known brand. We are not picking shapes out of a manufacture’s catalog. The idea here is making something fucking great and always better than the season before it. If kids don’t care to know the difference then I don’t want to be around them anyway.
I draw my own artwork, and I don’t draw for anyone else, so I think that is something that differentiates us as well. More importantly, I approach the art direction of the company as expression and not as graphic design that is designed to sell. Our team approach has always been different, our social media interaction, etc…"
This obsessive attention to detail and a willingness to appeal to a younger market hungry for alternatives to the industry standard skateboard deck has propelled Welcome Skateboards from a company initially started on $2000 and run as a side-project whilst Celaya worked a full-time job, to one of the best-selling independent brands in the world.
Graphically speaking, Welcome is very distinctive, with an emphasis on hand drawn imagery and references to esoteric and occult themes mixed with bright colourways. Welcome Skateboards also offer a detailed shape guide on their website, detailing the exact dimensions of all of their 38 custom shapes, which again differentiates their product from many of the skateboard brands on the market.
Welcome have released one full-length video to date, 2017's 'Welcome - Fetish' along with a constant stream of shorter video content released via the Welcome skateboards YouTube channel and across Social Media.
More information is available at: Welcome Skateboards
Skateboard Brands - Z
Founded:by Jamie Thomas in Carlsbad, California, 1996
Originally a clothing brand that crew out of an earlier brand co-owned by 80's pro skater and artist Andy Howell originally called 'Zero Sophisto' (then later simply, 'Sophisto') which Jamie Thomas was a rider for.
Zero Skateboards evolved out of this brand and after a successful tenure as one of Toy Machine skateboard's leading pro skaters, Jamie Thomas left to set up, ride for and run the Zero Skateboards brand through Tum Yeto distribution.
Zero's aesthetic was heavily influenced by punk rock and heavy metal iconography with the iconic Skull logo being instantly recognizable.
Zero's video output and general aesthetic was similarly influenced with an emphasis on reckless, dangerous skateboarding focused around handrails and stairs edited in a rapidfire way and generally set to punk or metal soundtracks.
Jamie Thomas is also credited with popularizing the use of the Century Optics Death Lens fisheye which became the skateboard industry standard filming lens until the advent of High Definition cameras some years later.
It is safe to say that Zero's identity as a skateboard brand was built primarily on its skate videos which began in (1997) with <strong>Thrill of It All, there followed Misled Youth (1999), Dying to Live (2002), New Blood (2005), Strange World (2009), Cold War (2013) and No Ca$h Value (2014) with each video upping the ante in terms of the levels of danger involved.
With Zero Skateboards popularity at its peak, Jamie Thomas opened up a manufacturing plant in Tijuana, Mexico to manufacture all of Zero and sister company Mystery's products under Thomas' Black Box Distribution umbrella, followed by the establishment of Black Box's own shoe brand Fallen Footwear in 2006.
In the same year Jamie Thomas was awarded a Young Entrepreneur of the Year award by Ernst & Young.
However, following changes in the skateboard market, Jamie Thomas announced that Zero skateboards would be distributed through Dwindle Distribution as of 2014, with the demise of Fallen Footwear announced in a Jenkem Mag interview two years later in 2016.
Later that same year, Jamie Thomas announced that Zero skateboards would be leaving Dwindle Distribution on amicable terms with the brand currently distributed independently by Jamie Thomas himself.
The Zero Skateboards brand continues to thrive under Thomas' direction and regularly releases video content via the Internet.
For more information go to: Zero Skateboards