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Why are skaters the most requested models of the last few years?

From Blondey McCoy to Evan Mock, skaters have taken over brands and catwalks

Why are skaters the most requested models of the last few years?  From Blondey McCoy to Evan Mock, skaters have taken over brands and catwalks

The fact that the skateboarding world, its mentality and its aesthetic have always fascinated the fashion industry isn't something new. Over the years and with the evolution of styles and customs, skaters have gone from outsiders - often by their own wish - to faces of a new fashion generation. Underground has become mainstream, against the desires of the most OG skaters, who shy away from the spotlight. In the never-ending war between fashion and skate subculture, it has remained famous the controversy sparked by Jake Phelps, the late Thrasher Magazine editor in chief, who called out Justin Bieber and Rihanna for wearing Thrasher T-shirts, calling them 'fucking clowns'. The issue of the appropriation of a culture that is indeed not part of the fashion industry is bound to remain open, but it's also true that skate and fashion have always walked on very close paths, which have often intertwined.

The pioneer of this evolution was Dylan Rieder, the late American skater who in 2014 starred in a DKNY ad along with Cara Delevigne and Jourdan Dunn, and who was later the protagonist of a Vogue spread wearing Alexander Wang. Rieder's example had long remained isolated but it definitely started a trend, which would later be boosted by the success and the popularity of brands such as Supreme New York and Palace Skateboards, on the opposite coasts of the Atlantic Ocean.

It's natural that the skaters part of a brand's crew become the faces of it. 
Sage Elsesser, for example, is one of the most recognizable and well-known Supreme skaters, as well as Na-Kel Smith, who starred in Jonah Hill's debut movie Mid90s, and in Supreme lookbooks and videos, along with Tyshawn Jones, one of the best skaters in the world who can boast some of the most remarkable scenes in Blessed. Despite the transversal fame of James Jebbia's brand, two Palace skaters are the most prominent representatives of the love of the fashion industry for skaters. 

Blondey McCoy was one of the original members of that Palace Wayward Boys Choir from which Lev Tanju went on to establish Palace Skateboards in 2009. McCoy, English with Lebanese roots, has turned pro with Palace, and even though he said farewell to the brand back in April he still gets on the board with adidas, with whom he's just designed his first signature shoe, a Superstar with a transparent upper. Blondey has signed with Kate Moss's model agency, he was the face of Burberry, Valentino, Berluti, Prada, he's graced the covers of i-D and Arena Homme+

Blondey walked on the colourful runway of Virgil Abloh's Louis Vuitton debut show along with another of Palace's most well-known faces, Lucien Clarke. The Jamaican skater has become in a very short time one of Abloh's favoured models, starring in a number of campaigns and taking part in many of the brand's shows, as it happened a few days ago in Paris in the show inspired by The Truman Show, Magritte and the concept of time. Lucien was moreover chosen to represent one of the most unexpected and interesting collaborations of the last few years, the one between Palace and Ralph Lauren

What brands look for in skaters is a healthy dose of reality, realness and character, a way to get out of their sophisticated ateliers and showrooms to try and build a more direct connection with the street. Lucien Clarke is the type of person who skates in Louis Vuitton trainer sneakers in Southbank as if nothing has changed since he was a teenager spending his afternoons on the South Bank of the River Thames, a far cry from catwalks and shootings. 

The last skater who's made the fashion industry fall in love with him is Evan Mock. With Filipino and Hawaiian origins, Mock became popular thanks to a random and rather lucky encounter. His friend Tom Sachs (yes, THAT Tom Sachs) ran into Mock and, impressed with his new haircut, a hot pink buzz cut, asked Mock to record a video for a friend of his. That friend was Frank Ocean, who shortly after posted that same video on his Instagram profile, showing Mock's face and smile to all his followers. 

Besides being actually good on the deck, the defining trait of Mock's personality, as it is for many other skaters, is his fluidity: they can't be enclosed in just one definition, framing them in established borders and stereotypes. Mock declared that he feels like an octopus that with all its tentacles is trying to reach for different areas and interests, from fashion to music, from skate to cinema, without rules nor limits. The same goes with the aforementioned skaters: Blondey is a contemporary artist, designer, and founder of the brand THAMESMMXX; Sage Elsesser is a rapper and musician, Na-Kel Smith is a rapper and actor. Being a skater is just a part of their personality, definitely important and representative, but not totalizing. 

According to Clarke's words, fashion and skateboarding are one entity, impossible to separate. Since Dior Homme creative director of the time, Kris Van Assche, made his models walk on a setting that reminded of a lighted skate park (Fall 2016), the skateboarding world has met unprecedented popularity in the fashion world, a rather active transformation. The most prominent representatives of the skate scene turned into the translators and intermediaries of two languages that are not that distant.