No other fashion trend serves as a strong statement than the punk trend and skate fashion does, without a doubt, a punk statement. Punk has been a strong merge of an anti-materialistic fashion that was strongly popularized with mainstream glam rock and the hippie movement. The hip hop community is the guiltiest in popularizing materialism concepts and the importance of brands in fashion. Punk fashion as it started back in the 1970’s was to contradict this focus on expensive brands and materialism and also stood as a statement to symbolize the punk movement’s anarchist ideology. As the years went by though, this idea faded into the background until the only thing remaining of the original punk fashion was the image while the heart of it had died with commercialism. Skate fashion is one of the last punk fashion trends that stays true to the original concept.
Punk was always about going against the norms. When glam rock bands started to sing about love and sex, punk performers began to sing about violence, teen angst and political revolution. When rappers began wearing blousy pants colored pink and neon-green, punk began wearing tight black leather studded with silver spikes. Rockers had messy long hair while punks had either short hair or spiked their hair. When everyone started wearing expensive branded clothes, punks took on old or cheap clothing and ripped them apart or wrote political slogans on them before wearing them.
Unfortunately though that strong anti-society image that revolutionized the punk community, their music and their fashion has died with the advent of global commercialism and the financial revenue it brought to artists. Where bands like the Misfits and The Fear stayed true to the punk movement, bands like Green Day and Good Charlotte embraced commercialism and started endorsing major brands and systematic fashion trends. This has caused a major split in the punk community between those that stand firm for the original ideology of punk and those who welcome the revolution to the new era of punk.
This change has welcomed conventional hairstyles, unique hair dye styles, branded clothes and shoes like Chuck Taylor and Vans footwear. The old BDSM-inspired punk style was replaced by a focus on skinny trends like wearing skinny jeans and fit shirts. Although piercings and tattoos were famous during the 1970’s and 1980’s they have become less significant in the new punk fashion, although some subgenre punk fanatics use piercings excessively as their social statement.
This change is not the same for skate fashion. Skate punk fashion has merged the anti-materialism and angst statement of old punk while keeping the comfortable sense of fashion of the new. Skaters in general prefer to wear clothing that fits their sport but skater punks will defy all rules to shout out their fashion statement.
Skate fashion, showing some inspiration from hardcore trends, involves wearing either T-shirts or a button-down flannel shirt colored red or black for simplicity’s sake. Others would wear a hooded sweatshirt paired with jeans while others would keep to a simple T-shirt and khaki short combination. To make it even more minimalistic skater punks prefer to keep their hair short with a buzz cut or other military-inspired haircuts whilst other skaters from other genres stick to long, messy hair.
Other genres have taken cue from the skater punk point of view. Most members of the hardcore scene haven taken this fashion trend and have avoided trendy fashion picks to go for a simpler look. Even famous bands that have little to no reference to punk like Linkin Park and 30 Seconds to Mars have adopted the skater punk sense of fashion. Some skater punks have adopted the thrash metal trend of adopting some military aspects into their clothing but this is not prevalent since it is costly and the entire ideology of skater punk fashion is to be cheap and comfortable.
As punk fashion continues to evolve along with its music, skate fashion will remain to be a prominent symbol of the original concept that the punk community brought forth while still retaining a sense of fashion and comfort that the new era of punk introduced. As a strong fashion statement, reminding the community of a fashion’s origin and where it has gone to, skater punk fashion will remain for another decade or two until another evolution forces the skater punk society to reiterate their message with a fashion change if ever necessary. Punk may have lost its luster especially in its sense of fashion, becoming no more than another pop trend influenced by television and the internet, but its subgenres keep the movement going forward and thus the statement that “Punk is not dead” does ring true.
Matt Walsh is a huge skate enthusiast and can be regularly found video blogging skateboarding tricks/moves. He’s a huge follower of the urban/street scene and can recommend Reprebate as an awesome source for urban and street clothing.