We will keep it simple: you can sell skateboarding as fashion. But skateboarding is a style, not a fashion. Even though industry and trademarks can make a profit out of culture and counterculture, and to some extent can help launching the careers of skaters and good willingly sell their products and persona, skateboarding is not a mere appearance or a visible public image. No matter your outfit or looks, no matter what brand made your deck and gears; sheer skateboarding culture does not sell talent or skills, and most of all it is not purchasable. The identity of any skaters worth is solely based on how they make their own meaning out of it. They shape it through their very own lives.
Underground vs Pop Culture
Some suggest that skateboarding should remain isolated from the buying and selling logic, that it should restrain itself from being a marketing product by any means. Within the community there are those who is on the side of the underground rebel and anti-establishment ideals that carried the meaning of the original statements of skateboarding. Others suggest that being a full-blooded skater doesn’t necessarily means rejecting a commercial and popular image if it helps them to sustain themselves and the community.
Neither sides are wrong. Authors Jurgen Blumlein and Dirk Vogel speak of this in their book ‘Skateboarding is Not a Fashion: The Illustrated History of Skateboard Apparel’. Some well known brands were founded precisely by skaters who made their DIY products; they started by their owns means and later fetched them to other skaters until the community and enterprise grew alike but they never were better than the rest by doing so.
One Style and One Community
It’s part of being human to identify ourselves and others through something common among us. The skateboarding community identifies itself with symbols, distinctive speech, interests, ideas and even with apparel. This however doesn´t mean that it is a fashion, for every skater can be independent in his or her style and still be able to be part of the community as long they have a board and a set of wheels with them.
As Yves Saint Laurent, one of the greatest fashion designers in history would say "Fashions fade. Style is eternal". Skateboarding is evolving everyday but its essence hasn´t changed. It may change its colors scheme, but its basic notions of skateboard and lifestyle continue as part of something bigger than the attire: the culture behind it.