LIFE PORN: [PALACE SKATEBOARDS]

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SKATEBOARDING FIT FOR A PRINCESS

Skateboarding – a hobby, a past-time, a sport and now an industry but perhaps most poignantly a community. What was once considered a sub-culture is finding it’s way into the mainstream.

In many places skateboarders are no longer palmed off as negligent punks but are instead revelled at for their skill and bravery. And so they should be. After all, you try getting on a board and jumping down a flight of stairs and see how easy it is ;P.

I have a long standing relationship with skateboarding. I was never sponsored and didn’t compete but it did fill my after school hours and weekends ages 12-18. Skateboarding gave me a focus, a group of friends and the opportunity to gain new skills. It was an outlet for my frustrations, (of which I had many), and a pair of eyes into the worlds of art and music, things which seem to sit comfortably hand in hand and an exciting intersection where cultures cross over.

It was a sport that had far less boisterousness and false patriotism than football or rugby. It was kind of the sport for goofballs and weirdo’s. You could laugh, have fun, be as odd as you wanted and your friends would accept you for your differences and use them to give you a nickname. It felt good to have an identity and a culture to be a part of. As an understandably sacred young gay man growing up in a conservative heteronormative environment, this was a sport I could be involved in that wasn’t gonna have me hung drawn and quartered.

In the past few years, the physical activity of skateboarding has fallen out of my life a bit, but it’s never fully left, and particularly where fashion, art and music are involved, skateboarding has a big influence on my life.

So when I visited the new Palace store today on Brewer Street in Soho, I felt like I was dipping my toe into a past that I wanted to reclaim.

This brand seems to have gone a long way in a short time and it was really encouraging and exciting to see the super plush array of decks and neatly laden clothes lining the walls of a pretty vast gallery like space. All the excitement I used to get from visiting a skate shop came flooding back and multiplied. Extravagant “Palace” branded marble floors pair with plain walls and slick black window frames. The till is situated in an alcove with an equally exotic glossy turquoise finish; this perfect mix of DIY and extravagance, class and crass, fittingly tells the story of how it looks when skateboarders have their stylistic say. Palace are no punks. They know exactly what they are doing.

There is lots of space in the store; enough to think and properly appreciate the products from a distance as if they are all works of art. And many of them are. Once more cultures cross and the functional clothes become detailed fashionable pieces at closer inspection.

My only frustration was the pricing, but I don’t blame them for pricing their pieces like this. If I was running a business in which a subculture was finally getting the acknowledgement it deserves and the pieces were as carefully considered as they are, my prices would be fairly high.

Even though Palace has reached the high street they still seem to maintain their integrity and it doesn’t feel like they’ve “sold out”, something which skateboarders would NOT approve of. Their personality and style definitely hasn’t been compromised for financial gain and this strength will help maintain the partial exclusivity of belonging to such a culture.

For me, the best part of my experience was at the till. I had friendly interactions with the staff members who were also clearly skaters, (another important factor for skateboarders), they seemed to be happy in the store and proud to be part of the operation. I then bought a pin and a sticker, two things which allowed me to feel part of the brand without destroying my account balance. To me this is important, especially in skateboarding. The majority of skateboarders are not typically wealthy, highly payed individuals. And many of them are young so won’t legally have had the opportunities to earn yet. So it’s nice that there is something that everyone can afford on offer. Palace may be a tad aspirational for these young skaters, but at least they have something to look up to. They can see how skateboarding can be innovative and successes are achievable; an incredibly important factor if they come from a town of few hopes or aspirations like the one I’m from.

“Palace” and their new store, like skateboarding itself, is a channel for the alternative. It’s eyes into a new world and it looks hot as fuck!

Palace, you have invigorated my love for skateboarding and pushed it into a new realm. And for that I thank you.

So go visit and see how you like it at:

26 Brewer Street
LONDON
W1F 0SW

Mon-Sat 11am-7pm
Sunday 12noon-6pm

Written and recommended by Ted Rogers “Artpornblog”
xXx

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