Has skate culture picked up where Hip Hop left off? It's still one of the last refuges of "authentic" cool. And suffice to say that any popular pastime whether it’s Hip Hop or video games becomes fertile ground for marketers. And adding advertising rarely makes the past time any more compelling than it previously was, and more often the commercialism both detracts and alters the thing that it has descended on. This is one of the causes of the current crisis that has befallen Hip Hop; its current commercialism versus its original authenticity.
But skate still has an underground edge which gives marketers something on which to hang their brands hat. But not all brands in skate are alien to the culture. And is one big reason why it is holding up so well; its core of authenticity.
Brands like even Vans, or Supreme and etnies are not so pimped as to alienate their core. To speak to the core about the core I had quick conversation with Jay Maldonado (pictured at work) who is the Influence Marketing Manager for skate brand etnies:
John Pasmore: How long have you been skating?Jay Maldonado: For about 18-20 years
JP: And how did you end up working for etnies?
JM: I had a friend who was brand manager for eSfootwear and they needed a team manger so he called me. I went through the lines of interviews and landed the job. After a year at the position, another position opened up in the marketing department so I transferred. Now I rep all the brands, etnies, eS, Emerica, 32snowboots, and Altamont Apparel.
JP: Now that you’ve lived on both coasts what makes New York skating different from California?
JM: They’re both very different, but in regards to skating, well we (East Coast) have many more elements to deal with like bad weather, and not so prefect skate spots. Because of these elements we have a bit of a different style cause we have to adapt to these conditions.
JP: Are brands like etnies associated with one coast or a particular style of skating?
JM: I don't believe we are associated with one coast ‘cause we have skaters worldwide. However if there is one particular style of skating I would say street skating for sure more, we’re more of your core skater kid, sneaker brand.
JP: It seems that we see an awful lot of West Coast skate culture on MTV and television in general, why do you think that is?
JM: The culture has grown cause of X Games, plus you have artists like Pharrell and Lupe Fiasco so our audience has grown outside of your core skaters because of the presence on TV.
JP: As skate culture moves into shopping malls is there a danger that like hip hop it could become too commercial and loose credibility with its core audience?
JM: I think yes, it kind of has affected the skate industry – bigger companies stepping in buying other companies up. The core skaters love skating cause it's self fully and it’s only the skater themselves who go commercial or skate brands that go commercial and loose their core audience. As for the sport it'll never lose its core.
JP: Was Hip Hop ever at the center of skate culture?
JM: Yea in some ways or another. In my personal experiences I would say during the mid 90's it's seemed to be very strong!
JP: Who are your skate icons?
JM: This one is a tough cause their so many. I never view them as icons but the ones I respect are.
Keith Huf (Hafnagel)
Keenan Milton (RIP)
JP: What movie best captures the culture?
JM: I would have to say "Kids" in some sorts, that’s if you’re talking about culture. Then again California has their own interpretation for skate culture.
JP: Snow boarding is often mentioned in the same sentence as skating in terms of reaching a similar audience, are the two audiences the same?
JM: There is a fine line, but there is some sort of a cross over.
JP: What music or bands do you most associate with East Coast skating?
JM: Hip Hop
JP: What’s the funniest thing you ever saw a skater do?
JM: Hit a pole ‘cause he was pointing out some chick in the street.