Friday, 16 November 2012

Lords of Dog Town

So it's damn right nippy our there at the moment in Old London Town. So I'm dreaming, California dreaming to be precise. Having noticed a lot of photo-shoots are focused around LA style skateboarding I've decided to delve into the history of skateboarding and in particular look at the fashion of the sport. 

Skateboarding was born in LA, California in the 50s. Inspired by surfing, Californian surfers were inspired to 'surf the streets'. The sport began by using clay wheels attached on to boxes, planks of wood and other bits and piece found lying around, all put together in a D.I.Y style. In the earlier days of the sport, many more people were injured due to the lack of sturdiness within boards. 

The sport began in two main arenas, slalom, and freestyle. During the slalom they would race down hills weaving in and out of cones as fast as they could often doing the "Burt" which involved scraping your hands along the floor. Where as freestyle was more poetic a way of skating and like dancing was deemed to be graceful and skilful. During the 60s however, the sport saw the end of its hey-day! With the sport dwindling to an unfashionable halt. 

Then came the 70s, 1972 to be precise. The urethane wheel was invented and is the same wheel used today by skateboards the world over. Invented for a smoother ride, in Dog Town, California the craze took off amongst the surfers. Dog Town was the birthplace of the Zephyr team - who were to become the most influential team of skateboarders in history defining the sport, and recreating the sport into something spectacular, that something it is today. They began pushing boundaries of the sport as they did when they surfed the notorious coast. This gave the something to live for as many of them were from broken homes in a deprived area - this was going to change their lives forever. 

Even though they began by mastering the slalom of skateboarding there was a record breaking drought of '72, which meant that many back garden pools went empty, so what was left to do but ride the curved bowl of the pool like a wave? They began by sneaking into peoples' gardens and running away once chased, however eventually they came across the Dog Bowl in Santa Monica where the owner would let them skate. This soon became the hang out of the Z-Boys. What began as riding the pool soon transformed into air tricks and grinds similar to those seen at the X Games in the modern day. 

Skateboarding was a sport put back on the map as the craze swept over America. Soon after a company named Bahne Skateboards held the first skateboarding competition since the 60s to which the Z-Boys showed up and changed the world of skateboarding in front of the public. It became the coolest thing to wear a Z-Boys t-shirt. 

Now, competitions have raised the stakes to tens of thousands of pounds with big sports players getting involved including Nike and Adidas. Many Skateboarders have a fashion of their own including brands specifically catering towards the sport: Roxy, Quicksilver and Billabong to name a few, but there is another angle from which skateboarding has influenced fashion. Hoodies aside, ripped jeans, Daisy Duke shorts and baggy vest tops in USA prints and retro prints are now in fashion for the summer with the relaxed atmosphere of California dreaming being in again. So get your vintage on, grab your board, and skate that bowl bitch.

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