Whilst early skateboarders generally rode barefoot, preferring direct foot-to-board contact, and some skaters continue to do so, one of the early leading trends associated with the sub-culture of skateboarding itself, was the sticky-soled slip-on skate shoe, most popularized by Sean Penn's skateboarding character from the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Because early skateboarders were actually surfers trying to emulate the sport of surfing, at the time when skateboards first came out on the market, many skateboarded barefoot. But skaters often lacked traction, which led to foot injuries. This necessitated the need for a shoe that was specifically designed and marketed for skateboarding, such as the Randy "720", manufactured by the Randolph Rubber Company, and Vans sneakers, which eventually became cultural iconic signifiers for skateboarders during the 1970s and '80s as skateboarding became more widespread.
Figuring out how to buy a skateboard can be daunting, especially if you’re not sure what you are looking for. There are customizable parts, accessories and some fancy technology that can be overwhelming. Good news is, we can simplify it for you! At Tactics, our crew is full of daily skaters, so we put our heads together to break it all down and give you the basics, plus a few recommendations.
Alex Olson’s Bianca Chandôn has quickly blurred and crossed back and forth between the line that currently divides high fashion and skateboarding, pushing an androgynous aesthetic inspired by looks found in Tom Bianchi’s Polaroid book Fire Island Pines, which nobody was ready for. Olson has turned what started off as an idea for a small board brand into a hype machine that has become a hit across the world.
Spotting a poorly made skateboard deck can be hit or miss. Some toy skateboards don’t even try to look “real". They might have no concave to their shape and may not even have a extended nose. Others may be shaped to resemble a real skateboard, but are made with cheap woods and fillers. If that is the case, they may be both thicker and heavier than a quality board, or they may be ready to fall apart quite quickly and easily. Consider that it isn’t easy to make a real skateboard deck. Most legitimate skateboard decks will sell for somewhere between $35 - $55. If you are paying that much for the entire skateboard, it is unfortunately a sign that significant corners were cut on quality.
TIP: Extra width and short noses make old school boards more difficult to flip or lift off the ground, so they are not ideal for street skating. With some old school boards, the truck mounting holes are drilled to only fit certain trucks, so make note of the truck pattern before you buy the deck. If you’re not sure your trucks will fit, just give us a call and we’ll figure it out. Shop Old School Compatible Trucks
Diamond has been a household name in streetwear for their dope caps, tees, hoodies, and sneaker collab hype that have had the Internet going nuts for years, but the brand's roots are in skate. While the list of collaborations and rapper co-signs is long (too long to list here), but for skate nerds the team is way more impressive—Raven Tershy, Ryan Sheckler, Torey Pudwill, Shane O'Neil, Stevie Williams, Paul Rodriguez… The list goes on.
Presenting to you, the next in line for top skateboard brands; Powell Peralta. Established back in 1978, Powell Peralta is perhaps one of the most well-known names in the skateboarding world. It was launched at a time when skateboarding was gaining traction and Powell Peralta rose to prominence. Powell Peralta is also known for featuring the Bones Brigade, which was a team featuring the top players of that time. Peralta left the company in between but both the partners reunited to create magic in the skateboarding community.
As loosely defined as Bronze is, Peter Sidlauskus seems to be incapable of doing anything wrong in his marketing for the brand, endlessly putting out amazingly hilarious and gnarly New York based edits featuring a loose group of guys we can say make up their “team.” Bronze brings an aesthetic that falls somewhere between vaporwave and deepweb, and is always making gear that you can rock on the daily, from pink dad hats to coaches jackets. You might have even seen their flip of the Windows 98 logo on the backs of people like ASAP Nast.
Ancheer 31″ Pro Skateboards are made of 7-ply maple wood and finished with anti-slip grip tape. It includes 60mm PU wheels ideal for riders who want to carve out sections, obtain speed and higher off the ground for tricks. It features 6″ Tony Hawk Signature aluminum trucks and 32″ long deck with double kick tail which is ideal for perfecting your favorite tricks. It comes with ABEC-7 skateboard bearings. It has style and quality which is expected from the most influential skateboarders of all time. It is one of the best-rated skateboards on Amazon with a rating of 4.8.
Make no mistake, not all European skate brands are provincial microcosms. Cliché has one of the most stacked teams in the industry, including the Australian master of pop Andrew Brophy and manual wizard Joey Brezinski. But the real star of the squad is Frenchman Lucas Puig, who has a stellar signature shoe for adidas, and an upcoming line of caps called Hélas that you will undoubtedly be hearing more about in the near future. Team aside, thanks to strong art direction, a prolific video program, and a highly covetable product offering that includes a dope collab with NYC mainstay DQM, Cliché is très ill.
Certain cities still oppose the building of skate parks in their neighborhoods, for fear of increased crime and drugs in the area. The rift between the old image of skateboarding and a newer one is quite visible: magazines such as Thrasher portray skateboarding as dirty, rebellious, and still firmly tied to punk, while other publications, Transworld Skateboarding as an example, paint a more diverse and controlled picture of skateboarding. As more professional skaters use hip hop, reggae, or hard rock music accompaniment in their videos, many urban youths, hip-hop fans, reggae fans, and hard rock fans are also drawn to skateboarding, further diluting the sport's punk image.
Huf has come a long way since its humble beginnings slinging the best sneakers and streetwear in San Francisco's Tenderloin District. Keith Hufnagel and his team quickly outgrew the boutique niche and have becomea full blown skate apparel and footwear brand. Today Huf has a stacked teamed (including low-key legends like Joey Pepper, who recently got a signature shoe), a wildly popular range of product (weed socks, anyone?), and some hefty celebrity co-signs.
A cruiser board is just that, a board that’s ideal for cruising across town. Cruiser boards have kicktails and are usually about the same size as “popsicle” decks, but with more variety in shapes. Cruisers are ideal for getting around because they are lighter and more nimble than larger longboards, allowing you to bob and weave through urban obstacles. Uniquely shaped cruiser decks have also become popular for transition skating because they add style and flavor without having a strong affect on the way the board skates.
As the name implies, pro skateboard decks are decks made by well-known skateboard brands that typically feature graphics or logos related to a specific team rider. Usually, pro decks are more expensive than team decks of the brand and much more expensive than blank decks. The increased cost goes to the pro skater and it’s a way for the buyer to support their favorite skaters and brands. Pro street decks are almost always Canadian maple, besides a few carbon fiber exceptions and they are the most commonly purchased decks see in skateparks and on the streets worldwide.
Supreme may be something of an outlier in the skate industry where few brands have brick and mortar presence, and limited distribution is aproblem, not a strategy. Unlikely or not, Supreme kills it as a skate brand and as a brand in general. No other skate brand can claim the level of accomplishment that Supreme has achieved—nine retail stores around the world, collaborations with the biggest names in fashion and art, and a confounding secondary market of resellers and collectors. Supreme reigns supreme.
Whilst this A – Z is by no means exhaustive and there are many brands, both new and old that are not included, we feel that this cross section of companies represents a selection of some of the best choices out there today. The following list of 29 skateboard brands, beginning with Alien Workshop and ending with Zero, covers a huge range of the alternatives within the current market and will hopefully act as a handy guide to those dipping their feet into our world for the first time.