Independent Brands - US Edit
Arguably dubbed the birthplace of skate culture thanks to California’s emulatative sidewalk-surfing rise to fame during the ‘50s, the pioneering efforts of the Zephyr Z-Boys and Los Angeles’ Dogtown lineage, America’s trailblazing mastership of evolutionary skate customs continues to expand tenfold with each passing generation. Paying homage to skateboarding’s Costa-Mesa roots and the rise in popularity of skater-owned and operated brands, infamous powerhouses such as Brixton, Stussy, The Quiet Life and HUF continue to lead the way, whilst the likes of Thrasher Magazine continues to honour its stronghold stature across the international skate community. Although seemingly endless in supply, here at Flatspot we’re proud to share with you some of our most favoured independent US skate and streetwear brands, including the likes of Hockey Skateboards, Quasi and Grant Yansura’s WKND.
Founded by lo-fi Flipmode masterminds Pat Murray and Peter Sidlauskaus, Bronze 56K is an independent NYC-based skatewear brand that manages to combine its gritty street-skate docu-series lineage with an admiration for animated characters, corporate logos and the internet’s world wide-web start-up. Celebrating a light-hearted approach toward nostalgic ‘90s styling, Bronze 56K’s latest release follows in succession of recently released edits such as ***PTSD*** and ***SOLO JAZZ*** to capture the very essence of all-season skate-centric character. Known for their against-the-grain custom t-shirts, sweaters and snapback sports caps, fun-loving designs pair with their iconic ode to the Windows 98 decal for a free-minded spin on anti-corporate ideals, whilst a continued appreciation for cult movie classics remains a focal point across each season, with M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense finding itself a well-placed reference within their latest release.
Sister brand to the infamous Fucking Awesome, Jason Dill and Anthony Van Engelen’s non-conformist Hockey Skateboards is a brand that is host to a ceaseless sense of energy accountable through the brand’s noted Alien Workshop roots. With an unassigned design format and a no-nonsense skateboarding narrative, Hockey’s ‘eyes-without-a-face’ tagline pays tribute to the brand’s gnarlier sense of creativity and its admiration for gothic-edged styling. Collaborating with Carhartt WIP in early 2021 to celebrate a pairing of sustainably-sourced utilitarian function and darkened workwear aesthetics, Hockey takes pride in addressing each and every passing season with a its overflowing offering of signature decks, tees and rehashed sportswear staples. Slotting in a gap that other independent brands have yet been able to fill, Hockey, and it’s crew of eclectic skaters such as Diego Todd, Kevin Rodrigues and Caleb Barnett, remain forever inspired by their foot-hold in what can only be described as the new-wave of independent skateboard brands.
With anchorage in both the street and skatewear market, Earl Ray Beard’s Stan Ray is, rightly so, coined one of the most popular heritage brands to stem from the US. Meeting the demands of endurance and durability with their disclosed military OG-107 backing, Texas-based Stan Ray is a family owned and operated company with an admirable 49 year hardwearing legacy to match. Founded in ‘72 around the same time as the Santa Monica and Venice hailing Z-Boys, Stan Ray’s aesthetic is one centred around honouring its US Military assignment with military-grade cotton sateen garments, durable overalls and long-lasting work shirts soon becoming popular wardrobe essentials for skaters and streetwear fans alike. Classic pinstripes and traditional block-tone colourings remain a mainstay for SP21 to help elevate the brand’s admiration for OG denim wear, utilitarian layers and chore coats, whilst the brand’s recent collaborations with Garth Mariano and Matt Evans’ Lo-Fi and London’s YMC brings a sense of creative character to the ‘American Made’ streetwear brand.
Yet another NYC-based independent retailer inspired by the city’s metropolitan allure and restless energy, Frog Skateboards’ immersive and imaginatively childlike graphic aesthetic is what has continued to usher the well-tempered brand in the right direction since their initial debut in 2016. Loyal to their never-easy-to-explain sense of character, team-riders Pat Gallaher, Luis Ouida, Last Resort AB team rider Chris Milic and Polar Skate Co. and Dancer’s Hjalte Halberg honour the brand’s playful energy through edits such as ‘Boba Tea and Nightmare’ and ‘Bossa Nova’, whilst their recent Skate Old School and Skate Slip-On collaboration with Vans keeps founder Jesse Alba’s ode to out-the-box originality in check. Stylised scribbles and custom artwork across tees, hoodies and sweaters has helped elevate the brand’s ‘my child could draw that’ vibe tenfold since Alba and good-friend Diego Meek joked about its start-up, with the fun-loving Frog host to an unguarded magnetism inspired by ‘90s bitmojis, childhood memorabilia and garish doodled decals.
Named after the 25-cent Bodega products that inspired founder Konstantin Satcheck and the brand’s early-year NYC fruition, Quartersnacks is a skate-spot scouting skatewear brand that has evolved greatly since its OG online skate blog days in 2005. Calling on New York’s city-wise live-and-breath mentality, Quartersnacks’ tongue-in-cheek persona and infamous ‘Snackman’ mascot has continued to pioneer its own unique corner of the market since its debut. Uniting like-minded individuals via both their online community and their nail-on-the-head apparel, Quartersnacks moves with the seasons to bring a touch of East-Side charm to long-sleeve tees, short-sleeve shirts and all-season favourites. Having collaborated with Nike SB to deliver two creative remasterings of the Nike SB Blazer XT, the brand’s collegiate yet quirky streetwise persona helps usher the brand’s Big Apple mentality in the right direction season after season.
Based out of the Buckeye State and led by former Mother Collective associate Chad Bowers, Quasi’s when it’s right, it’s right design style is one that accurately captures the brand’s anti-corporate mentality and its nonspecific but distinctive aesthetic. Mirroring Fucking Awesome’s follow-on from Alien Workshop, Bowers leads Quasi down the route of unexpected expression via their beautifully bizarre graphics and their old-school charm. Influenced by team-riders such as Jake Johnson, Tyler Bledsoe and Gilbert Crockett, and their ‘Dallas Man’ and ‘Mother’ edits, Quasi’s collaborations with powerhouses such as Vans and Nike SB continue in a favourable light, whilst characterised tees, long-sleeves and out-the-box hardware designs address pop-culture references, hot-topics and reclaimed ‘90s ideals in line with the brand’s laid-back Ohio locale.
A rightful front-runner in the smaller skate-brand resurgence, skateboarder and videographer Grant Yansura’s WKND returns full-circle as yet another California originating skate brand home to the likes of Alexis Sablone, Taylor Caruso and Andrew Considine. Skater owned and operated, WKND fits in as the US part to Hyperion Distribution’s international umbrella. Inspired by Yansura’s Cosmic Vault legacy and his self-produced Weekendtage edits, WKND Skateboards’ fun-loving and open-minded aesthetic lets street-spun fonts, refreshing colourways and silly ideas take reign. Yet another independent brand that has gone on to collaborate with Nike SB, WKND continues to complement each and every changing season with well-formulated drops inspired by their West Coast roots and their easy-going sense of skate-centric appeal.