Fashion has long been obsessed with skateboarding. Every season, authentic gear is dragged from skate parks and city streets into high fashion spaces. Biting streetwear style isn’t anything new — there have been posers in Thrasher hoodies for decades and it won’t stop anytime soon. However, skaters signing with major modeling agencies and collaborations between legit high fashion brands and streetwear labels are part of a much more modern type of remixing.
When it comes to true skate style, it’s always best to look to the athletes who are actually riding; thanks to Instagram, you can keep up with skaters in real-time, instead of having to wait for a monthly mag or a post on a website. Here’s the best part: skaters don’t use Instagram the way that calculated influencers do. There are no #OOTD posts. Instead, their accounts are curious hybrids of average social media user detritus and extreme skate YOLOness. They show tricks but also blanket their pages with pictures of their crew, the people they’re dating, and their families.
Very few of the shots are professionally composed, save on accounts of skaters who are also visual artists. Instead, followers get raw style. Check the list below and get wise.
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Ben Nordberg is a controversial addition to the list. On one hand, he’s an obvious choice because he is a pro-skater and a signed model with IMG. On the other, his modeling work has made a lot of other riders question whether Nordberg can even be considered a skater anymore. A UK native, Nordberg earned a spot on the elite Flip team (Bob Burnquist is a pro member of the team, which is important because he’s a God), and he is sponsored by brands like Spitfire, Thunder, and Filament Brand. Although his appearance is totally propelling his modeling career, it would be a mistake to overlook the impact of his skate style. Known for his relaxed rides, Nordberg is completely laid back when he does his tricks — his mien displaying the same indifference one expects on models striding the runway.
In the past, his Instagram account leaned more toward the influencer side of the genre than the pro-skater one, as it featured him in a lot of black and white shots relaxing with big-name models or wearing high-end fashion brands rather than riding his board. But lately, he has been posting primarily skate videos, so fans looking for tricks will be satisfied.
Some of the people on this list exemplify the classic California skate style. Blondey McCoy is not one of them. A founding member of the Palace Wayward Boys Choir, a UK collective of creatives and skateboarders, he has been instrumental in celebrating grimy, raw British skateboarding. He’s even got the PWBC tattoo to prove it.
McCoy is the most well-known face of popular brand Palace, as he models as well as skates for them. But, he is also an artist and clothing designer who helms his own label, Thames. Two years ago, McCoy gave up using drugs and alcohol, something he posts about regularly on his Instagram. During a particularly rough come down from abusing the prescription meds for his bipolar disorder, he created a series of multi-media art pieces that form the foundation for Us and Chem, his debut art book.
Followers can expect exceptional street style, fantastic art, and enough skate vids to keep them satisfied.
During his Baker Bootleg phase in the late 90s, he pulled elements of punk into his street fashion, challenging the baggy norms of the scene. By 2001, he was representing the Piss Drunx crew on the pages of Rolling Stone. This notorious group of skaters were known for their heavy drinking and drug use as much as they were for their unorthodox skate style. Jim Greco wasn’t just dressing punk, he was living it. His style then began transitioning into glam territory, which included heels and drag.
You don’t need to excel at web searches to quickly find pics of this skate legend looking like one of the New York Dolls; he had a fabulous collection of scarves. But these are just moments on this ripper’s style continuum, which also includes tattooed thug and mod rocker. Right now, his flow is late-70s man about town, with an emphasis on wide-leg polyester trousers and button-downs that sport huge collars worn open to showcase a wife beater. It’s not unusual for his Instagram to feature videos and pics of him skating in a suit and tie. Like many of the others on the list, he is also a musician and an artist; he crafts screen printed boards for his brand Hammer and documents his artistic process for followers as well. Plus, the man loves a sleek pair of shoes, so expect regular shots of sweet kicks.
It wouldn’t be possible to put together a list of stylish skaters without including Sean Pablo, skater, artist, and clothing designer. He’s been in the public eye since he was featured as a new face in Supreme’s first full-length video, Cherry, which some people credit with jumpstarting fashion’s recent love affair with skate style. He was the one with the tidy hair, the short pants, and the nail polish.
Years later, Pablo is still a style standout. Over 6 feet tall and rail-thin, he’s built like a model and that’s probably why he leans more toward the wardrobe of a rock star than a skater. He tucks his shirt in, loves old school Chuck Taylors, and keeps his pants belted at the waist. His clothing line PARADIS3 is all classic skate staples — tees, jerseys, sweatshirts, beanies, and dickies jackets, but he is equally likely to wear things from thrift stores. His Instagram features his photography and pictures of his crew (Jason Dill’s “F.A. Kids”).
Chances are, if you are raised by skate legend Tony Hawk, you are gonna shred. Facts are facts, America. And though Riley Hawk certainly brings it when it comes to skating, he isn’t following his dad’s skate or style path. The elder Hawk made a real name for himself with his vert style, but Riley is all street skating, for which he was acknowledged in 2013 when Skateboarder Magazine named him their amateur of the year. Now, he’s sponsored by both Baker and Lakai. These days, he’s skating on ankles that support synthetic ligaments after some gnarly accidents. But it’s not stopping him.
Instagram followers will enjoy the way he curates his style, favoring tattoos, long hair, and vintage duds. His influences seem to come more from music (he has his own band) than from runways or conventional street style. Between the hair and the beard (which he shaved for a Dollar Shave Club advert at one point), it’s like he stepped out of the seventies. Follow him for awesome skate shots, band vids, and cameos by skate luminaries.
Eli Reed is straight east coast, and he has never fit the traditional skater mold. The son of an art teacher, he committed to doing everything in an expressive way early in life. Unlike some of the people on this list who carefully curate a look with attention to detail and coordination, Reed lets his emotions dictate his appearance; the man is sensitive. This means he is as likely to rock a suit as he is to wear the same clothes two days in a row and roll like the dirty skate rat he is. Like many of the other skaters on this list, he started his own clothing line.
Because of his close relationship with the company, the Eli Reed brand was exclusively available through Supreme when it launched. That’s no longer the case. The brand has traction outside the skating world; Rihanna was spotted in one of his designs. Reed counts Converse, Diamond, Supreme, and Venture among his sponsors. But, never forget the time that he was sponsored by the Tenga Sex Toy. Tenga is really dope; they have partnered with Opening Ceremony and Anti Social Social Club in the past. It may be impossible to follow him on Instagram and not be utterly charmed by his pink Chuck Taylors or his granny turban.
It’s not unusual for a skateboarder to look like he or she should be fronting a band, but Columbian born David González is the only major ripper who looks like his band would spend all night rocking Slayer. He is the lead guitarist for Rattblack, an independent thrash metal band. His Instagram is full of fitted black jeans, bandanas, band tees, and backward snapbacks, and his signature long hair is pure metal.
González is a skateboarding phenom who learned to ride on a secondhand board. By 11, he was winning national competitions, and at 13, he was supporting his family on checks from Flip and Globe, who make his signature shoe. In 2012, he was Thrasher’s Skater of the Year. He is known for his assertive approach to street and tranny skating (his transition skills are legend), as well as his love of partying. His Instagram is straight skate, rock, and pit bulls.
“Black Dave” Willis
Dave Willis is no stranger to new monikers, going alternately by Black Dave, Black Bart, and Black Punk. Straight out of the Bronx, NY, he considers himself an outsider, as he was the only one in his neighborhood on a board. He prides himself on continuing to do what he wants without conforming to notions of what is cool, which has served him well in his transition from skater to rapper to punk rock singer. New York is a huge influence on his street style and his skate style. He’s a beast.
At one point, Willis was sponsored by Supreme and working in their store. Now, he rides for Zoo York (the first to pick him up), Skullcandy, Shake Shack, and El Senor, a NY jewelry brand. He borrows from hip hop (the man loves a bucket hat), classic punk rock, and skater style. His gear is always immaculate and coordinated; plus, he is as likely to rock Gucci as he is Thrasher.
When some of the top skateboarders in the world met up to compete for the title of Street League Super Crown World Champion in 2016, Lacey Baker crushed it and walked away with the women’s title, which opened the door for her to enter some sponsorship deals. She’s now a member of the Nike skate team. This is in addition to existing relationships, like those she has with Meow Skateboards, Pawn Shop Skate, and Bones. Baker is super androgynous; her style is heavily influenced by queer culture, which she references as a reason she prefers short hair (it’s buzzed clean right now) and masculine dress.
Baker’s Instagram account highlights her love of monochromatic outfits in black, white, and grey, as well as her affinity for simple pieces. She likes basics, but alters almost every garment she wears, from cropping pants to hemming tees. There are also a ton of pictures of her cat, her girlfriend, and fellow skaters.
With nearly three million followers, Nyjah Houston is one of the most followed skaters on Instagram. He is a prolific partier, as we saw at festivals like SnowGlobe 2018 and Life Is Beautiful. But he’s also a street skater poised to change the direction of the sport. There’s a reason ESPN dubbed him the “X-Factor.”The man has earned seven X-Games gold medals and was voted the best male action sports athlete at both the 2013 and 2014 ESPY Awards. And he has done it all at a very young age — he remains the youngest person to compete in the X-Games, having started at a mere 11-years-old.
Followers can expect a lot of videos of skating and other extreme sports, lots of stunning women, pics with other big names in sports, and the occasional still photo of Houston chilling in streetwear or accepting an award. Because he is so prolific and respected, seeing all the personal videos of him shredding is a great way to keep tabs on what’s happening in the skate style-world.
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Richmond, Virginia isn’t the first city people think of when they think of gnarly board sports. But it is where Gilbert Crockett calls home, and he knows all the crusty skate spots. His skate style is described as both earnest and minimalist, and he has a decent-sized fanbase with 69,000 followers on Instagram. Among other sponsors, Crockett reps for Vans, and he works with them on shoes that have designs pulled from vintage wares like World War II accessories and 90s colorways. He also goes vintage when he buys clothes, preferring things from the 1930s and 40s, when he asserts things were made better.
All of these old school influences contribute to Crockett being a solid follow, as does his work as the proprietor of Cee Blues, a company that specializes in selling both vintage clothing on Etsy (as well as in their Richmond storefront) and made in the USA denim clothing from a separate online store. Expect to see the occasional shout out to Cee Blues chinos on occasion, but most of his posts are of skating and tattoo and board designs. It’s a stripped-down skateboarder’s account and that makes it great for people who love the sport. The fashionable edge and inclusion of stylish gear is a bonus.
One of the common threads that emerge when you look for stylish skateboarders is that of artistic enjoyment. A lot of these people are visual artists, photographers, clothing designers, and poets. Alexis Sablone is an illustrator sculptor with a master’s in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Yes. MIT. Combine that with the goofy-footed skaters professional prowess like her seven X-Games medals and her inclusion on the first USA Skateboarding National Team and you have a legit powerhouse. Homegirl is well-rounded. Plus, she has already designed shoes for Converse, making her one of only a handful of women who have their own skate sneakers (Lacey Baker is also in this crew).
People who check out Sablone’s Instagram account will find a woman who sticks to monotone beanies and baseball caps and pairs them consistently with black and navy T-shirts and black pants that are hemmed right to the ankle. Yes, it’s minimalist, but it’s also super distinctive. It’s not for nothing that she has been included in the style section of the New York Times and in Vogue. Unlike her contemporaries, Sablone doesn’t post a lot of skate vids so you can expect still shots, pics of friends, self-portraits, and images from interviews. She seems more focused on the aesthetic than on anything else, so her account is a visual delight. People like delights.
Ivah Wilmot has the distinction of being a bit of Rastafarian surfer royalty because his father Billy “Mystic” Wilmot is credited with popularizing surfing in Jamaica. The X Games once tweeted, “In Jamaica, surfing is synonymous with the name Wilmot.” And though the younger Wilmot is the most publicized surfer on the island right now, he’s also a well-known skateboarder. He also rides for Roark, which nets him a lot of clothing that gives off their signature world-traveling adventurer vibe.
Those who opt to follow Ivah Wilmot can expect a lot of surfing stills, skate videos, Roark shoots, and casual shots from life in Jamaica. All told it’s the kind of account that makes you want to book a flight to the Caribbean so you can join him in some Red Stripe and a day of boarding. As far as his style goes, summer has ushered in a lot of shirtless, board shorts pics, but his modeling for Roark means there are a lot of solid ensembles represented. The island influences are very clear in the dreadlocked ripper’s fashion. Plus, the many backgrounds of Jamaican streets and skate ramps really add a travelogue quality to the account.