With skateboarding first making waves in USA, the American influence on modern skateboarding is undeniable. Inspired by surfing in 50’s California, skateboarding was originally devised as a way for surfers to ride the concrete and have fun when the waves weren’t on.
Through the next 30 years, skating in America rolled through the ups and downs of mainstream culture, culminating in a contest scene that brought skateboarding to the masses. But, whilst Californian’s were fighting for titles in a ballet-like competition scene (check it out, it’s hilarious but also mega impressive), UK skaters were on the streets thriving on their antithesis to popular culture.
In the early days, UK skaters were off the radar, skating whatever spots they could find and mostly avoiding run-ins from groups that didn’t understand them. In 1973 skaters discovered Southbank in London due to the “Undercroft” features being perfect for skateboarding. It’s great to see work being done to restore the original areas of the skate space, thanks to the fundraising and dedication from the guys who set up Long Live Southbank.
Motivated by being the outsiders, UK skaters identified with the Punk movement. Favouring alternative clothing, music and art alongside wild parties and so-called “anti-social behaviour”, it was here that UK skating really diverged.
Moving through spurts of popularity and drop offs similar to America, an underground scene continued, forming a tight-knit community of passionate skaters. Fast forward a couple of decades and the UK has become a complete melting pot for skate culture, fashion and mainstream acclaim.
However, as skateboarding was being appropriated by pop-culture, grassroots brands were (and continue to be) born out of nothing more than a love of skateboarding and resistance to mainstream trends. So who are our favourites?
Created by skaters Paul Shier and Nick Jensen who were once a part of the now defunct but legendary UK skate brand Blueprint Skateboards, Isle are known for their abstract designs and acclaimed decks. With a solid team of UK skaters claiming to be for every style skater, Isle is, without doubt, an integral part of UK skateboarding.
Keep an eye out for their UK skate edits and posts on Instagram.
Bored with the direction of UK skateboarding, Palace skateboards was founded by videographer Lev Tanju in 2009. Tanju lives and breathes UK skate culture. Starting out as a means to sponsor skateboarders, Palace has grown to be one of the best in the world with renowned prints and retro styles.
Skater owned and run, and founded in 1998, Death skateboards humble beginnings are echoed through its products today. Upholding designs that put performance and value first, Death have grown to be one of the UK’s top brands. Check out the collection of decks, wheels and t-shirts.
One of the UK’s most authentic original skate brands, Skateboard Cafe’s roots in Bristol talk volumes on its street feel. With a solid team of skaters, Skateboard Cafe sponsor some of the UK’s most admirable skaters. Premium materials and punchy graphics including their famed donut planet adorn decks and apparel throughout.
You can find our favourite UK brands listed on Sameway from retailers like Route One and Skate Hut as well as smaller independent skate shops. Other UK skate brands include Landscape, Enuff, The National Skateboard Co. and Fabric Skateboards. So you can choose the right price and the right place you’d most like to support with your purchase. Check out our full list of skateboarding products here.
Check out the below edit “Capital” following skaters Ben Coughlan and Mark Jackson around various spots in London. Shot and editted by our good pal Rory Langdon Down.