It’s hard to hear anything in the LES Coleman Skatepark, a half-acre of ramps, rails and slopes underneath the Manhattan Bridge. But people don’t really come here to talk. They come to skate.
The open expanse of asphalt was redesigned and reopened by New York City in 2012, and its Lower East Side roots carry a near-mythical significance for downtown skaters. On a smoldering Friday this summer, 10 of them talked about their influences.
Occupation: receptionist at a college in Worcester, Mass.
You’re almost head-to-toe Calvin Klein!
“C” and “K,” that’s the combo. Coke and k.
Your hat is Supreme. Tell me about Supreme and skate culture.
“Cherry” was the video that put them on the map. It changed the course of skateboarding. Last full skate video before Instagram took hold.
Shoes are very important to skaters.
These are Vans. I just picked them up at Labor, right down the street.
What got you into skating?
The adventure of it. I’m from the suburbs and every day after high school I’d hop on the Holden freight train, ride it into Worcester. Otherwise it was a 15-mile skate.
That is very chic. My last question is about your socks.
These are just some black socks.
Occupation: student at Borough of Manhattan Community College
Do you come here every day?
Pretty much. I live on the other side of Brooklyn, but my school is down the street.
I dig your overalls.
I like 1990s looks, the oversize fit. And these were my mom’s from the ’90s.
What are you wearing underneath?
This is just a bodysuit. From Century 21. I like how it sparkles.
What’s on your feet?
I just got these shoes and I haven’t skated them yet, so they feel weird. They’re Nike SBs.
What’s your favorite thing about skating?
Meeting new people.
Occupation: “full-time skater”
Nice T-shirt. You like the Stones?
Of course. The energy, the way people move. I like fashion too.
Are you loyal to any brands?
I would be loyal to Nike if they would give me something.
But you’re wearing Vans.
Because these are the Pros. These always get a pass. Converse, Adidas — shell toes down to the regulars — are accepted.
Tell me about your chain.
My Cubans? I just like gold. I like to wear flashy things. Shiny things. It makes me feel brand-new, you could say.
Can I ask about your face tattoo?
It’s “13.” A cross for the Christ and a three. That’s the age I started believing in God and being spiritual. Now, I’m 22 and I believe in the universe and things that go around.
Occupation: clothing designer, 18 East
You’re wearing your brand’s hat. What makes that good for skating?
It’s nice because it’s nylon, breathable. The clothing that you use for skating and the clothes you wear outdoors go hand in hand, because they both need to be functional and durable.
What are your pants?
Rothco cargoes. Just the classic $50 real-deal, army cargo pants.
What’s the deal with the Reeboks?
They’re good, clean shoes. Everybody’s got Nikes. Everybody’s got Adidas. I’m a little bit older, and the older heads always skated Reebok Lows.
And your bag, where’s it from?
It’s by a friend of mine in Asbury Park, New Jersey, called Patriae. She’s a Slovakian designer who goes home every year and buys up vintage handwoven hemp textiles, then cuts and sews them into bags.
Occupation: sixth grader
How’d you hear about Kith?
I like a lot of street wear brands, and I found Kith in New York. I’m from L.A.
The letters of your shirt are spelled out with Tetris blocks. Have you played that game?
Yeah, I think. I’m pretty sure. Wait, I don’t think I have.
What do you wear when you skate?
Anything. I like to wear skate shoes. Vans. The rubber sole helps with the grip tape.
What’s your favorite part about skating?
It’s fun to go fast.
You’re rocking a bucket hat.
They’re back in style.
Do you often skate in shorts?
Shorts, jeans, baggy jeans. Whatever is comfortable.
Why do you need a backpack and a clutch?
I’m taking some classes after this, a heels class. So I have my heels in there, some deodorant, some perfume. And I also have my camera, because I like to blog.
What’s on your feet?
Some Js, you know. As a skater, they give good support and good grip on the board.
Who’s that on your shirt?
It’s Amy Winehouse. I love her.
Occupation: music producer
You made those pants?
They were originally navy blue, and I used bleach to lighten them. It took about three days to dry because of how thick these pants are. And I’m crazy because it’s 90 degrees out right now.
Why did you do all that?
Because my mother always taught me to be myself.
Where’s your T-shirt from?
This was a thrift. Goodwill has some good stuff.
How did you pick your shoes?
These are Converse One Stars. I was broke at the time, but I always shop from Converse. They’re my favorite shoes to skate, besides the Nike Blazers. Every time I put them on, I feel like I can do every trick in the book.
Occupation: I.T. support at the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
You don’t see a lot of skirts here.
I’m actually wearing a skort. It’s flowy and flexible. And supercute and red.
Good for skating?
Yes because you have the shorts under it, so you don’t really have to worry.
Do you worry about scraping your bare legs?
I do worry but I love skating more than anything, so it’s worth it.
What about your top?
It’s Zara. I just bought it today. Off-the-shoulder and the fabric is superlight so I won’t sweat through it.
What’s on your feet?
Converse. Sometimes I wear Vans and sometimes Supras. I wore these to match my skirt.
Your board looks pretty new.
It is new. My old one was too big for me. Now my landings are better.
Occupation: apparel and jewelry designer
You’re a designer who skates — give me your honest impression of Supreme.
I thought it was cool when it originated, but now it’s a bit more of a hypebeast thing. It’s not really my style.
Your tattoo says 1994. Is that your birth year?
Yes it is. Good year.
Are your Dickies sweatpants?
No, they’re just really well worn.
Who makes your shirt?
This is 18 East, the illest brand out right now.
Where’s your hat from?
This is a find. I did a little stitching, just to make it mine.
Why are you here?
Is there any tension between the rollerbladers and the skaters?
Not these days. There used to be a lot of beef. People are into mutual respect and being cool. It’s a new paradigm, a paradigm of kindness.
Are your blades retro or new?
’Blading is considered retro. People approach me and ask, “When did you start again?” I never stopped.
Are those pants Carhartt?
Eight bucks at a thrift store. The utilitarian clothes are awesome because they’re built to last.
Does your necklace have any relevance?
There’s a faded Om insignia, carved out of bone. Bone from a skater’s shin.
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