Is the UK skateboard scene more London-centric than ever? Do you have to move to London now if you want to try and be a sponsored skater in the UK?
I’m generalising here a bit, forgive me, but it seems now more than ever that the UK skate industry is centred around London. National, Lovenskate, Yardsale are all based there, and obviously Palace trades heavily on its London image. But, maybe more importantly, magazines like Free and Grey represent London more than anywhere else in the country. UK videos or edits which get any sort of exposure seem to always be centred on London as well.
Obviously I’m ignoring some important things. Skate Cafe are clearly Bristol-based, although two of its pros are based in London, and Vague has Reece Leung photographing the north, although again it seems to mainly feature artists and skaters from London in its interviews. Death have always been south-east based and North magazine reps Scotland. But these seem exceptions to the current trend.
Maybe I’m overstating things and the UK skating’s always had a heavy London focus, but without a magazine or company with the resources and desire to cover the whole of the UK things seem to have become very localised with London being UK skateboarding’s metropole. What do people think?
I just think that with Sidewalk gone the rest of the country has lost it’s web of connectivity. That was the glue to keeping everyone informed of what was going on in the further reaches.
I would say it’s very much trend driven, I remember there used to be some kind of extra cool factor if you were from another city but now it seems that doesn’t really happen with the monopoly on cool being preodominately in London.
Another thing is that many of London’s big skate spots still remain whereas the councils in places like Birmingham and Nottingham basically declared war on skating many years ago so I’m sure that didn’t help prevent things becoming more London-centric.
That’s my two theories anyway.
Funny one yeah, not really something I’d given much thought but it seems that way. Maybe something to do with the fact that despite shoe companies being the ones paying skaters rent the board brand still does matter in terms of identity and it feels like the current crop of brands are very ‘matey’ if that makes sense and to get on you have to really be friends with everybody before even considering putting you on, the only way to do that is live in the same city and as you pointed out most board companies are out of London (you say Skate Cafe but pretty sure Rich the guy who did it lived in London for a long time before moving back to Bristol). Feels like the days are gone where a TM will see a guys sponsor tape and bring him along on a trip to meet the team, now you’ve got to get in with the team first and foremost and then they will think about putting you on.
Also maybe a reflection of wider trends in employment with more and more younger people having to move south for job opportunities as well as a lot of the major art universities being based in London.
Landscape is an interesting one though, that has gone from London centric to Manchester centric
Death has always had an interesting mix of South, North, Scottish, Welsh and non-British skaters.
Maybe. But those crack downs feel like a long time and this a more recent trend.
Hull is an interesting example - you have a council who’s partially willing to accept street skating (in designated spaces) and Skate Hull who are keen to make it a skate destination. Nottingham council have shown some positive response to a similar initiative in the East Midlands.
But then in London you have sort of additional ventures like South Bank and House of Vans. Weird London is so heavily featured when there are so few proper ‘session’ spots - South Bank, Gillette Square, Canada Water kind of are but there’s not that much to skate at any of them!
Also more and more skaters are getting opportunities to ride for international companies on something more than a distribution deal alongside a corporate shoe company check so that opens things up a bit. They can chose to live where they want and in terms of amount of skate spots/ things to do for young people London is obviously very outwardly appealing
But that is the thing though, think about London footage in videos you don’t see those session spots. For a sponsored skater trying to film a part the size of London alone means there are always going to be more street spots, they have the skate parks to warm up at.
Totally different story for your average skater not out there to try and get footage
Might be on to something here. Are shoe companies now more London-focused as well? The recent adidas UK edit would suggest so:
House of Vans is obviously a sign of where Vans’ marketing budget is going.
Why hook up some unknown parochial when you can get a more London-based dude with enough followers to skate and model for you?
Benny Fairfax does UK adidas as far as I’m aware so that probably has some bias
I dunno man, South Bank seems to be more heavily featured than ever in edits. Obviously not in a Tom Knox section or something like that, but in those more general edits that crop up.
I’d disagree, obviously that adidas edit you posted was themed around the South Bank area so of course it is going to crop up but don’t really feel as though it all that featured in proper skate clips with London footage. Maybe the odd line or too but nothing that heavy
I did hear that adidas are now focusing their team around the London riders and opportunities elsewhere might be hard to come by. That’s the same with every shoe brand though really. Look at Nike, with the exception of Joe Gavin everyone is pretty much based there and it’s similar with NB and Cons. It’s just the central hub for skateboarding these days like it used to be and with that most good skaters will go there for more coverage. Not a bad thing at all as it brings everyone together in the same place.
Obviously good skaters around the UK might get their chance but if you’re gonna be in the thick of it you’ll probably need to move to London right now.
They were a long time ago but my point was that hardly any of those old legendary spots remain, so if you’re looking to make your mark then these days you might as well go and film stuff in London and have people taking note than get a trick on a spot hardly anyone knows.
“Do you have to move to London now if you want to try and be a sponsored skater in the UK?”
You still have to move to USA to make a real go of it, as far as I can tell
True. Or do a Decunha and instagram/youtube/twitch your way to fame.
How many of the Palace, Sour, Polar, etc skaters are living in America? Look at the Atlantic Drift edits. You can make waves in the industry without having to live in the USA now.
Didn’t you always have to move to London to step up?
…and then from there the US (Or, Barcelona for a minute)?
I don’t think it has changed in terms of what skaters get back from companies, etc. the only difference is coverage but then Vague and North may well even that out.
What we need is a lovely load of stats.