The sound of scraping wood fills the air. The wheels turn, methodically and unconstrained, spinning the rider balanced on the deck through 360 degrees. Skateboarders seem to defy gravity, as they twist and lean along the basketball courts at Arguello Field. Adaptation and failure are key to their learning, as skaters have to fall and get up daily. The result is a singularly relaxed, yet provocative fashion culture.
Last Saturday, FashionX — Stanford’s only pre-professional fashion organization — and the unofficial Stanford Skate Club hosted a Spring Kickback at Arguello Field. Riders of all skill levels were invited to socialize and try a few tricks on the quarter pipe and rails, among other obstacles. Halfway through the event, nearly twenty members of the Berkeley Skate club came out to join in the festivities, bonding with their rival school. Students enjoyed the cold, non-judgmental environment, and the first four hundred attendees were treated to free tacos and Red Bull.
As part of their joint effort to foster community and showcase skater fashion, Stanford Clubs also featured two pop-up stations of student fashion brands. Shelves of clothing from two student-owned brands, Crenshaw Skate Club (Toby McIntosh ’25) and FORTYTWO (Milo Rivas ’24), stood at the edge of the half-line, inviting event attendees to explore and supporting the unique phenomenon that is skateboarding fashion.
Invented in California in the 1950s, skateboarding became popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Later in the 1980s, a unique subculture associated with the activity flourished, taking elements from grunge, punk, and anti-authoritarian popular at the time. With the success of skater-rock inspired bands like Blink 182 and Avril Lavigne’s pop hit “Sk8ter Boi”, the 2000s sent skater fashion into a frenzy.
As the sport grew in popularity, skater fashion grew out of the need for functional, practical, and semi-protective clothing as a way to combat the scrapes and bruises that come with the activity. Versatile items such as graphic tees, cargo pants, baggy jeans and Vans are staples of the skate brand. Today’s skater fashion remains staunchly laid back and continues to favor a loose silhouette, while also paving the way for brighter colorways and the occasional slimmer fit. Nostalgic influences of ’80s suede kicks, bulky pants and XXXL t-shirts remain staples of the subculture.
Milo Rivas founded FORTYTWO in 2017 as a skater, a streetwear-inspired brand with a mission to tell a story with every garment. During the kickback, Rivas displayed a “42 athletic college design” on four different colored shirts: black, orange, navy and white. As a skater and member of FashionX, Rivas found the event to be the perfect springtime celebration of skating and fashion. He also saw it as a great opportunity to bring more attention to the skating community at Stanford.
“Everyone sees us skating on the courts anyway. It’s like putting names to our faces. We are people who skate, but we are also part of other organizations, we don’t just skate,” Rivas said.
Opposite the FORTYTWO clothing racks was a range of Crenshaw Skate Club designs, with cool-toned t-shirts and hoodies available for purchase. Founded in 2017, Crenshaw Skate Club is a dynamic project inspired by McIntosh’s passion for skating and his experiences growing up in South Central Los Angeles with a lack of representation of Black, Indigenous and People of Color ( BIPOC) in the skating industry.
“Whenever I watched skate videos and magazines I never saw people who looked like me and my friends, so I wanted to start this to represent people like us in the industry,” McIntosh said.
Jon Napolis, a junior math student at Berkeley, is co-founder and co-president of the Berkeley Skate Club. According to Napolis, the Berkeley Skate Club was in town for a skate retreat. This year, the destination was Palo Alto, and their retirement weekend happened to be the same as the Spring Kickback.
“I heard from a great friend of mine that a skate event was happening at Stanford. Next thing you know, we’re meeting here with the whole band,” Napolis said.
For some like Napolis, skating has been instrumental in developing their personal style. Going forward, the skate club co-president hopes to put more emphasis on the role of fashion in the Berkeley skate scene.
“Through skateboarding itself, I got into fashion and found my own personal style. I love the intersection between fashion and skateboarding, but we don’t really have that at Berkeley,” said said Napolis “What we really try to focus on is shooting and skating. But we think we’re exploring that more, we’re always open to new ideas.”
President and co-founder of the Stanford Skate Club Wen Zhang, third-year doctoral student. materials science and engineering student, recognized all the hard work of the club’s undergraduate students, including McIntosh and Rivas. For Zhang, this event was just the tip of the iceberg.
With skateboarding joining the Olympic permanent events schedule starting in 2028, Zheng hopes to take skateboarding to a new level at Stanford. This would mean the creation of a university team and perhaps even university-supported access to facilities and equipment. Zhang and Napolis discussed the future of college skating at the event and hope to one day unite more college skating communities.