Independent Brands - UK Edit
Maintaining a structured sense of euro-centricity, the UK skate scene has grown exponentially since the sport first raised its head across the streets during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Now host to many home-grown and independent retailers all cashing in on their own unique aesthetic, here at Flatspot we’ve decided to share with you some of our favourite UK-based skatewear brands. If its nostalgic ‘90s glam-culture mixed with gritty South-London charm that you’re after, then Daniel Kreitem’s Yardsale, Daniel ‘Snowy’ Kinloch’s Wayward and familial skatewear legends Palace are set to impress, whilst brands such as Skateboard Cafe, Garden, Parlez and The National Skateboard Co all tap into an understated urban vibe that pairs well with the UK’s dichotomous landscape.
Based out of the South West cultural hub of Bristol and known for their community-influenced approach to contemporary skate styling, Skateboard Cafe is an independent label named after a series of skate edits published by founder Rich Smith during the late ‘00s. Pairing odes to British tongue-in-cheek character with a relentless use of less celebrated pastel colourings, Skateboard Cafe taps into an aesthetic once inspired by old school concept skate stores. Linking with local artist Becki Clark and London based creatives such as Gaurab Thalaki and Tishk Barzanji, Skateboard Cafe sheds a touch of modern-day light on yesteryear nostalgia to perfect a go-to vibe rich with creativity and never-before-seen prints.
Bristolian neighbours of Skateboard Cafe and former collaborators with us here at Flatspot, easy-going Parlez is an influential streetwear brand that hosts a refined and distinctly European vibe that cashes in on its waterside locale to deliver a truly unique, nautical-minded aesthetic. Keeping sailing inspirations at the heart of its visionary creative, founders Cav Bunkhall and Will Clinkard continue to steer Parlez towards another season of success with their latest Q4 W20 collection. Simple embroidered branding helps cast the brand through a ‘minimal but modern’ lens, letting insulative workwear-minded jackets, earthy ‘90s undertones and vintage-inspired sportswear silhouettes do the talking. Practical quarter-zip profiles, double-pocketed jerseys and long-sleeve, coastal-themed layers help solidify the brand’s urbanised character, whilst maritime-mentions remain ever-loyal to the crew’s current harbourside set up.
Pairing West Coast LA vibes with London’s quirky sense of character, Yardsale brings a refreshing sense of cross-cultural charm to the UK skateboarding scene. Launched in 2013 by former Slam City Skates videographer Daniel Kreitem and born from a desire to construct a ‘suburban take on 80’s glam culture’, Yardsale hosts an inner city aesthetic that fuses vintage VHS murmurings with bold neon trims to showcase an unmissable ‘sunsets and cocktails’ air of surprise. HO20 for the trans-atlantic skate label welcomes a number of season-friendly insulative staples into the mix, subdued pastel-minded colourings make a comeback to soothe the changing seasons with revised and striped layers, polos and quarter-zip sweaters honouring the ‘80s regardless of applied setting. Whilst their love of old-school cult films and music-culture remains ever-apparent through the release of new season hardware such as the Genesis Deck, coined after the English rock band and inspired by the 1979 film Alien, and their fluorescent cityscape green and pink Control Decks.
Founded in ‘09 by prominent visionary Lev Tanju, Palace Skateboards hosts an internationally renowned reputation thanks to its unrivalled ‘VHS meets pop-culture’ vibe. Backed by a rich history ‘intimately tied to the underground of UK culture’, Palace is a prime example of skate’s ever-evolving transition through ‘fashion, streetwear and hype culture’. Letting garish aesthetics, unrestrained colour pairings and contemporary cuts speak for themselves with free rein, ‘Tri-Ferg’ Palace transitions through the changing seasons with a growing confidence that never seems to falter. Creative signature deck collaborations with the likes of team-riders such as Benny Fairfax, Rory Milances and Jamal Smith celebrate skate-centric achievement in line with personal innovation, while the brand’s non-stop triangulation of premium-grade hardware, street-mindful apparel and revolutionary accessories continues to honour their gritty south London charm and their revered high-end appeal.
A detachment of Lev Tanju’s Palace Wayward Boys Choir (PWBC) collective, Wayward offers the modern-day market something truly unique and ultimately unrivalled through its mischievous yet maintained character. Drawing aesthetical similarities to fellow Londoners Yardsale and following in Palace’s pioneering footsteps inspired by the likes of James Edson, Blondey McCoy and Lucien Clarke, fellow ‘wayward’ Daniel ‘Snowy’ Kinloch stuck with the brand’s namesake to introduce the brand to the market in 2016 with the announcement of another spin-off, Boys Choir, arriving just this year. Thanks to Kinloch’s open-minded approach to contemporary aesthetics, Wayward holds the key to an already timeless ‘80s-drenched vibe that welcomes out-the-box graphics and creative re-interpretations across their instantly recognisable ‘W’ print logo, whilst energetic rewrites of skate and athleisure staples such as hoodies, sweats and tees keeps them on track ahead of the coming seasons.
Born from the ashes of The Harmony and OG UK brand Blueprint, The National Skateboard Co is home to an eclectic team of riders that ‘represent European skateboarding flawlessly’. Their graphic-led aesthetic tends to a keen attention to detail across all their custom illustrations and often educational prints, whilst their appreciation for yesteryear memorabilia doesn’t appear amiss within their latest sticker-book inspired autumnal release. Uninformed graphics from the much-loved Bobby Engvall help the brand to relive its ‘00s roots through go-to classic casual-cut tees, sportswear inspired clasp-secured caps and playfully re-written hooded sweaters, whilst their commemorative ‘Maaate’ Ben Raemers Foundation capsule collection shows the brand’s honourable appeal as they celebrate the life and admirable achievements of good friend and fast paced skater Raemers, who they sadly lost in 2019.
Striking the perfect balance between artistic aesthetic and skate specific styling, Edinburgh based Garden is an independent skatewear brand that works tirelessly to break the mould of conformist ideals. Driven by a passion for low-fi videography and their EH postcode, Garden acts as a communal representation for skaters of all abilities whilst humbly identifying as more than just ‘another Scottish brand’. Releasing their first promo video ‘More Information’ in 2019 and backed by Converse Cons in Vague Skateboard Magazine, Garden turns its attention to architectural aesthetics and custom neon-trimmed graphics for AW20 with staple beanies, totes, tees and sweaters all tapping into a minimalistic sense of urbanised appeal, whilst their ‘first or last place it’s a dance not a race’ approach to contemporary desire speaks volumes for the brand’s admirable energy and their go with the flow vibe.