history / industry / skateboarding

Selling the Cycle

Skateboarding’s popularity is cyclical, it always has been an always will be. The outside money, interest, and participation will come and go and those who are truly committed with weather the ups and downs and maybe even carve off a little for themselves in the times of plenty.

The following article is one that I feel like I have been reading a few times a year since I began to realize how much skateboarding meant to me, and it made me cringe, and it made me mad. But in fact this piece was written right around the time that I got my very first skateboard, it had the teenage mutant ninja turtles on it and I was nine. As long as people have coveted a lifestyle there will always be those who try to find a short cut, merely appropriating for their own benefit.

Clothes Make The Boy You Don’t Have To Skate To Pick Up The Style

by Chuck Arnold, Daily News Staff Writer

POSTED: May 31, 1994

You don’t have to actually skate to look like a skater boy. With the right haircut and the right clothes, you can play the role without ever getting on a board. In fact, your average raver dude or alternative hip-hopper can easily pass for one.

There are three stores in the South Street area where you can get the gear: B.B.C., 605 S. 4th St.; Zipperhead, 407 South St.; and Sub Zero, 520 S. 5th St. While B.B.C. has a definite hip-hop flavor and Zipperhead has a rock-n- rave edge, Sub Zero, which just opened in April, has the straight-up skater style.

Sub Zero stocks only clothes made by skater-owned companies like Stereo Sounds, Droors, Forties and Planet Earth, or snowboard manufacturers like SMP. In case you want to take the perpetration further, you can also get decks, wheels and trucks to accessorize yourself.

Now that you know where to shop, here’s what to buy – from head to toe:

Hats: Most street skaters don’t wear helmets, so forget about going there. The baseball cap, worn to the back, is the hat of choice. But ski caps are also cool. Of course, you can always go hatless if you have the proper do, like a military buzz or some funky dreds.

Shirts: Go for T-shirts or sweatshirts with the logos of board companies. They can be substituted with any muted-color T-shirts or sweatshirts that are loose-fitting but not too-too oversized. Sweatshirts can be alternated with a zip-front shirt-jacket and short- or long-sleeved button-downs for a dressier, layered effect.

Pants: Jeans are the trousers of the trade, hung low on the hips but not falling-down baggy. Skater-owned companies like Droors and Planet Earth design their own jeans, but as long as you avoid any bright colors, you can pick your own label. Work pants will work too, as will loooong shorts or cutoff baggy jeans.

Underwear: Boxers, never briefs. The better to hang outside your sagging jeans.

Shoes: First of all, don’t call them sneakers – they’re shoes. Vans are the Nikes of skate shoes, but there’s also Airwalk and Etnies. If you must wear sneakers, buy streamlined lo-tops by Puma, Adidas or Converse.

And so my self righteous thoughts continued and reams of trite second hand opinionated bile threatened to come spewing forth. And then I saw a few lines of text at the bottom of the page that changed my mind.

So just to give a little context to my finding this, I was searching for Deluxe distributions now defunct clothing brand Forties when this popped up as one of the search results, archived from its original publication in the Philadelphia Daily News in May of 1994 and as such the captions for the photos that ran alongside the original article were also archived, which is when I saw this…


First of all the photos are unfortunately nowhere to be found, but more importantly just seeing Ricky’s name there made me smile especially after recent years with all of the hard work and dedication that he has put in to bringing Traffic back from the ashes and his constant dedication to skateboarding through the years. He is pretty beyond reproach when it come to the idea of selling out, the guy drove a Fedex truck to support his family after his company went out of business for god sake, so that he and Sub Zero might have orchestrated or at least had a hand in this article seemed hilarious.

It is certainly not dishonourable to steer the wallets of those seeking to emulate skateboarders back in the direction of the skateboarders themselves, it is literally the least they could pay, but I wonder if back then in the more naive days of the early 90’s that Ricky could have foresaw what the future would bring for the bastardisation of skateboarding in the mainstream. He has been banging on about it for long enough ever since but kids never want to listen to the generation that came before them, no matter how stern their warnings might be, aint that right Jeff?

Well after all that ill leave you with a little look to the future, from the past, and the resurgence of Traffic Skateboards with former model Mr Ricky Oyola back at the helm and a team of absolute rippers to back him up. Rumours of a recent move from Theories distribution could suggest that things are moving in a less than positive direction right out of the gate but we will have to see which direction Ricky decides to steer things this time around and hope that he has learned from the mistakes of the past.

But even if he hasn’t the cycle will continue…

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