(Queens, New York) As we continue our Maloof Series, a constant theme continues to arise throughout each interview we do, and that theme is the current state of skate culture. With brands such as Supreme, Thrasher (a magazine, but still), and Huf (because if you’ve smoked weed ever, it’s mandatory to buy their socks) blowing up in popular culture, there is an argument whether the new found exposure is either helping or hurting the longevity of skate culture. In the different interviews conducted, we saw both sides of the spectrum – with one side believing that the exposure is beneficial and the other side believing that the exposure is destructive. After talking to Alan and Jermaine, we tapped into both sides of the spectrum on the current issue of skate culture.
Jermaine, whose Instagram handle is @itsworldfamous, has been skating in whole for the last nine years. After noticing our camera, he asked us to catch a picture of him board sliding down a nine-rail (seen above) and we couldn’t say no. Without even knowing it, Jermaine has had a connection to Triboro for a few years. It turns out Jermaine and us here at Triboro went to a few of the same parties in our high school years. This crazy coincidence led us to talking about a bunch of different things, one being the current state of skate culture. Skating Maloof for the last six years, he has been able to see the rapid growth of popularity of the culture first hand.
Although many others feel that the exposure of the scene has “killed” the culture, Jermaine feels that it provides just that: exposure. In his opinion, the exposure is creating an identity and giving more publicity to skateboarding. Rather than breaking down the culture, the “rooting” of the scene has become a doorway for young skaters to gain notoriety with brands that may not have been as big prior to rise of popular skate wear. Not only does it enhance the chances of getting recognized, it also brings more money into the business. Jermaine feels that this popularity will bolster the business element of skateboarding. With more exposure comes more money, and with more money comes skaters getting paid an amount they deserve for busting their ass. Although Jermaine was making valid points, the other side of the spectrum tends to disagree.
On the other side of the opinionated spectrum is Alan, a kid from Forrest Hills, Queens that has been skating Maloof since it has opened. Riding on a board reading “RIP Dad”, Alan has seen it all, from Chris Cole gracing the grounds of Maloof to seeing kids break bones literately everywhere. With a unique skating style, I felt intrigued to speak with Alan and get his opinion on the issue at hand. “It’s killing our culture,”
Alan said, “I feel like we don’t have anything anymore.” Although he understands that it’s necessary for brands to seek exposure simply for survival purposes, he feels that it has left skaters with nothing.
With many different people having many different opinions, the key element of the argument is the furthering of the culture. Is it better to have an attitude of isolation or an attitude of inclusion? Will maintaining a tight nit community with few outsiders further the culture rather than promoting skate wear to everyone and anyone? Also, is this exposure a form of selling out? Really only time will tell. No matter what way you look at it, skateboarding is a business. Brands need to survive and a key survival tactic is the expansion of the brand. On the other hand, we have seen many other cultures “mined” before in the past. In the early 90’s when Grunge music became popular, their culture was completely infiltrated. Companies like Calvin Klein, Versace and Marc Ecko put out grunge-style fashion lines and Nirvana was playing every second on MTV. As a result, the grunge culture virtually died. Is this what will happen with skate culture? We will see.