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