Focal Point

Levi’s Uplifts Oakland Skateboarding

Back in the Fall of 2014, Levi’s invited members of the media to San Francisco and Oakland for a two-part mission. The first was to showcase their 2015 Skateboarding Collection and, secondly, to introduce us to their most recent skatepark support project in West Oakland.

Fast forward a few months and “Skateboarding in Oakland: The Town Park Story” has made a handful of premieres around the country and the new 2015 Skateboarding Collection is well into its selling season. We’ll get back to the clothes shortly.

The mission in West Oakland begins with a man named Keith “K-Dub” Williams – art teacher, skater and founder of “Tha Hood Games.” What began as a simple conversation with Karl Watson in the mid 2000’s about providing a place for Oakland skaters to call their own, turned into a quasi social experiment. Tha Hood Games didn’t just organize the skate scene in Oakland, it incorporated a full spectrum of the community that transformed into an arts festival that merged skateboarding with live art, music, film screenings and fashion performances.

In 2009, K-Dub officially established “Town Park” at DeFremery Park in West Oakland with skater made, re-purposed wooden ramps with the longer term goal of transforming the space into a concrete, permanent home for skaters.

Williams reached out to representatives of Levi’s for support and as they have done successfully in India, South Africa and Bolivia, and Levi’s pulled though in a major way. K-Dub and Levi’s worked in concert with California Skate Parks and the city of Oakland on the design and construction of phase one of the new Town Park which opened in October. The wooden ramps from the old park were moved to a new skate park in Marin City that had recently opened which kickstarts hopes of progression in yet another community. Williams and Levi’s are currently working close to complete phase two of Town Park in 2016.

On to the 2015 line. Back in San Francisco, at the Levi’s headquarters, our visit went far beyond just being shown the new line. We were walked through the facility and given an extensive history lesson on the deep roots of Levi’s Strauss & Company. Then we visited the design and testing wing where jeans are stretched, scratched, scraped and basically abused all in the name of research and development. Then, finally, we got to see the 2015 line… simple, clean and dependable. There are no flashy colors, no frills. Just wearable, usable and durable clothing made to stand up to whatever a skater can give it. If the tour of the facility taught us one thing, it’s that the skate line is designed, tested and made to last the same way that the rest of their clothes are with close attention paid to the details that make great clothing for skaters different than great clothing for “civilians”. Take a look at the full 2015 Skateboarding Collection and click here to locate a dealer near you.

– Derek Rinaldi

CONS Rust Belt Boon

“In the 60s and 70s, as America’s manufacturing and industrial complex came apart at its rusty fasteners, the Rust Belt was born—wide awake and never to sleep again—and for the last 50 years it’s slowly worn itself down to a corroded nub.”

Converse recruited Mike Anderson, Zered Bassett, Jake Johnson, Al Davis, and Aaron Herrington to film their latest video “Rust Belt Boon” far from any prefab skateparks or indoor “training facilities”.

While cities in America’s heartland like Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh have plenty to offer a skater in their downtown areas in the form of rails, ledges and architecture, it’s the unique components of these particular cities that were most appealing..the wastelands.

Blown out buildings and vacant lots long forgotten my many are the perfect environments for creative and resourceful skateboarders. Adapt or die.

“Rust Belt Boon” appeared on the Berrics website earlier this month and an accompanying article in the February issue of The Skateboard Mag. Check out a gallery of images shot by Jon Coulthard.

How Social Media Has Changed Skateboarding

Has social media hurt or helped skateboarding? In Chapter Two of ‘Pushing Forward,’ a skate documentary from Red Bull, they take a look at the impact of social media on pro skateboarders and how the modern pro utilizes social media to manage their own brand.

To help answer this somewhat obvious, but complex question, they looked at the different ends of the spectrum. Joey Brezinski is quite active on social, as is Alex Midler, who at the age of 16 was born into the social media era and doesn’t know anything different. And then there’s Wes Kremer, who has a different approach entirely to the medium. Veteran pros Jamie Thomas, Mike Vallely, and Steve Berra weigh in on the subject with some strong opinions that provide interesting context to how the profession has changed.

Pushing Forward: The Golden Age of Video is Dead

Is the traditional skate video as we know it really dead? What is the relevance of the skate video in this modern digital age?

The latest skate documentary from Red Bull, ‘Pushing Forward’ takes a look at the emergence of the solo video part, the impact a traditional premiere still has, the hype behind the biggest team video in recent history and we look towards the future of skate videos.

Chapter One shines the spotlight on Ryan Decenzo during an important time in his career: as he prepared to drop his online solo video part “Double Down” for Thrasher. Ryan dedicated two full years filming for this part. The question is raised: Was it worth it?

Zered Bassett was recently featured in “Outliers,” Transworld’s 26th full length team video. Reaping the benefits of a traditional Hollywood premiere, Zered defends the significance of the skate team video.

With the much anticipated Plan B video set to drop in two weeks, Chapter One reinforces the core nature of a traditional skate video and why the concept of longevity and shelf life can never be replaced.

‘The Golden Age of Video is…Dead’ features Decenzo and Bassett, as well as skateboarders Torey Pudwill, Felipe Gustavo, Wes Kremer, Joey Brezinski, Dane Burman, and industry heavy hitters Ty Evans, Steve Berra, Erik Bragg and Chris Thiessen.

– Nate Hoppes

Match Made in HEL – Connecting the Skateboarders of East and West

For two days in October 2014 some of the best skateboarders from East and West were connected to share their passion on the top of the world at Finland’s Helsinki Airport. This first-ever skate session was directed and hosted by Arto Saari and includes his Flip Skateboards teammates Curren Caples and Louie Lopez along with Golden Tickets winners Matt Berger, Hiroyuki Matsuo, Kasperi Kropsu, Andreas Larsen and Gosha Konyshev.

Have a look at the amazing footage from a 48-hour period when these heavily skilled skaters got access to totally unique skate spots to test the limits of the gateway between East and West.

For more about this unique event, check out Match Made in HEL and be sure to check out Arto’s introduction with this truly unique skate session right here.

Glen E. Friedman and Ian MacKaye Discuss MY RULES Book

As the release of Glen E. Friedman’s new forthcoming book MY RULES nears, he and Ian MacKaye got together at the Dischord House just outside of Washington DC to discuss some of the rare and important photographs that appear within the pages.
You can advance order the book through this link.