Independent Brands - European Edit
With a free-spirited and distinctly urban aesthetic that subtly strays away from the status-quo set by its West Coast predecessors, the European skate scene is one well-populated with up and coming independent brands. Here at Flatspot we’ve whittled it down to showcase a handful of our favourite EU-based brands. If you’re looking for classic cut-and-sew t-shirts lead by artistic obscurity then check out by Parra and Polar, for throwback ‘80s inspired tracksuits then try Helas or if its something down-to-earth and aesthetically laid-back that you’re after, then look no further than Berlin’s Civilist or Paris-based Magenta.
A new-brand that we’re excited to showcase here at Flatspot ahead of AW20, Rave is an out-the-box brand self-described as a ‘pray full of nonsense’ thanks to their highly characterised aesthetic and against-the grain vibe. Based out of Bordeaux and led by creative trio PJ Chapuis, Tom Amiot and Aurélien Mangin, the brand pairs an appreciation for ‘speak for itself’ aesthetics with classic-cut t-shirts and sweatshirts to deliver something truly unique. Launched in 2016, timely short-forms such as their ‘_lovers’ and ‘Family & Friends_Leftoverz’ clips effectively capture European skate culture at its rawest, whilst their boisterous colour-trims and nonchalant odes to yesteryear memorabilia keep them current.
Celebrating their 10th Anniversary in 2020, Paris-based Magenta released an exclusive collection of t-shirts, shirts and hoodies decorated with a custom designed skating Eiffel Tower illustration to honour its distinctive European roots. Home to eccentric skaters such as Ben Gore, Zach Lyons and triage founder’s Soy Panday and the Feil brothers, Magenta is a brand that isn’t afraid to turn to mellow colourings and neutralised tones to help its aesthetic really stand out. An undying love for the famed VX video camera captures the brand’s nostalgic spirit, whilst their iconic ‘Plant’ logo, seen across t-shirts, hoodies and caps, symbolises the brand’s free-forming attitude and grass-root beginnings. Landing numerous big-name collaborations with the likes of adidas Skateboarding, Philadelphia’s CASTE and age-old favourite Etnies, Magenta is a no-nonsense brand firmly rooted in tradition.
Admired for their ballsy aesthetic and their take-no-prisoners approach to contemporary styling, by Parra is a brand that has gained international recognition thanks not only to their memorable collaborations with Nike SB for the 2005-debuting ‘Amsterdam’ Air Max 1 skate shoes, the follow-up Blazer Low sneakers and the recently released Tokyo 2020 Rawthentic collection, but also thanks to their vivid graphic t-shirts, contrasting colour palettes and founder Pieter ‘Parra’ Jannsen’s artistic duress. With a distinctly abstract undertone that tunes into the brand’s Amsterdam-based roots and its unfathomable fixation with early ‘90s rave culture, poster-graphics and nostalgic memorabilia, by Parra is a tongue-in-cheek brand that leaves no stone unturned and no striking shade uncelebrated, whilst their appreciation for ‘in your face’ prints and artistic interpretations supplies them with endless accessories and clothing governed by a truly unruled aesthetic.
Joining the European skate scene in early 2003 after its creative fruition by founders Peter Kolks and Ric van Rest, Pop Trading Company pairs utilitarian aesthetics with age-less profilings to deliver a high-end vibe that’s still well-suited to skate. Actively linking up with artists such as Joost Swarte to celebrate homegrown talent and support other independent figureheads, Pop Trading Company remains a firm favourite here at Flatspot due to their mellowed-out vibe and undeniable authenticity. SS19 saw the release of their exclusive Miffy collection with their highly-popular cord trousers capturing the brand’s fun-loving attitude and their commitment to skate-specific function, whilst rehashed fabrics such as cotton minicord and ribcord make a comeback for AW20 in the form of utility shirts, jackets and free-minded cargo pants. Linking up with by Parra late last year for an all-European release inspired by both brands’ Dutch heritage and their creative flow, Pop Trading Company is an easy-going brand with a love for statement colourings with a fast-paced energy to match.
Matching Magenta with their own adidas collaboration released by team-rider, Palace affiliate and brand-founder Lucas Puig, fellow French skatewear brand Helas hosts an obvious ‘80s aesthetic that not only honours skate’s early-day transition to the European market but celebrates bold print graphics and decals that pay acting tribute to skate’s golden years. Famed for their archive-revived tracksuits, bucket hats and celebratory odes to denim, Helas pairs old-school VHS aesthetics with gritty urban desire to curate a vibe not-yet uncovered. Their boisterous and instantly recognisable ‘Umbrella’ logo, displayed across everything from t-shirts to hoodies, pays tribute to the brand’s initial London-based discussions held outside a rain-soaked pub, whilst its translated namesake ‘unfortunately’ is fittingly formulated around easy-going European culture. ‘80s and ‘90s trims run wild throughout, with their ‘Fellas: A Cappella’ short-form and pairings with the likes of Chewy Cannon, Flo Mirtain and Seb Housset providing them with an international stature that’s a far fetch from their OG cap-brand days in 2011.
Art-deco vibes and classic European culture reigns supreme when it comes to detailing Berlin-based Civilist’s impressionable aesthetic. Keeping things simple with classic cut-and-sew sweaters, t-shirts and shorts, Civilist let colour and cut speak for itself. Proudly manufacturing all their clothing and accessories within the EU, the brand remains loyal to its independent skate-brand roots, whilst collaborations with the likes of Nike SB and the production of their heat-adaptive thermography Dunk Low Pro QS skate shoes shows just how far the Berlin-Mitte brand has come since its establishment 11 years ago. Stepping outside skate-culture’s West Coast hailing comfort zone to incorporate a greater sense of cultured awareness into their aesthetic, Civilist is a brand that actively strives to bring people of all backgrounds and interests together whilst their OG sneaker shop roots keeps them firmly footed.
SS20 for easy-going Dancer was a season filled with all organic t-shirts and no-nonsense beanies designed to complement even the most eccentric of wardrobes. The brainchild of notorious skater and fellow Polar collaborator Hjalte Halberg, Dancer is a brand that combines traditional Nordic aesthetic with playful graphics to adhere to their free-spirited ‘enjoy and keep dancing’ ethos. Lighthearted spins on their 6-letter namesake provide creative and quirky logo trims across many of their soft and subtle coloured t-shirts, whilst their iconic leisure-minded ‘Dancer’ patch logo pays homage to the brand’s appreciation for multi-layered authenticity and quality craftsmanship. Flatspot is proud to be one of only five UK stockists for the Copenhagen-based brand, whilst their down-to-earth roots and relatable aesthetic sets them on a successful path that’s set to rival Halberg’s association with big-name brand Polar Skate Co.
Led by internationally renowned creative visionary and former Converse Ambassador Pontus Alv and backed by the likes of powerhouse skaters such as Aaron Herrington, Oskar Rozenberg and Shin Sanbongi, Polar Skate Co. has continued to send ripples through the European skate scene thanks to their non-stop creative flair and their passion for the sport. Famed for their Cord Surf Pants, 93 Denim Jeans and their abstract-minded signature skate decks, Polar is a brand that never disappoints when it comes to contemporary aesthetics inspired by human connectedness and the notion of personified heritage. Against-the-grain vibes run wild through each and every seasonal collection with obvious references being made to short-forms such as their ‘In Search of the Miraculous’ and ‘I Like It Here Inside My Mind’ edits, whilst their keen attention to detail and trending prints makes them well-suited to both everyday, skate and street wear. Apparel isn’t all the brand has conquered, with their recent pairing with Nike SB for the Blazer Low GT and the Air Trainer sneakers being matched by founder Pontus Alv’s latest footwear venture ‘Last Resort’ which is set to release later this month.