remembering the worst of 90s skate fashion
The 90s skate scene is having a bit of a moment right now. These are the things not to feel nostalgic about.
You can't escape 90s skate fashion right now. Yeah, it's still #OnTrend. Hypebeasts are sporting the latest Supreme stonewashed jeans and Palace windbreakers. 'Cool models' are donning Thrasher tees in between shoots. And Vogue, infamously, just devoted a whole week to all things skate.
But in the mad dash to resurrect skate trends from that decade, it's important to remember: not each and every last one of them is worth bringing back from the dead. Some, in fact, are just plain embarrassing and need to remain in the dustbin of 90s Skate Trends That Should Never See the Light of Day Again. And so, as the wave of 90s nostalgia continues to crash through the high street, as well as the skate park, consider the absolute worst side of that decade's skate fashion.
The peaked beanie — aka the visor beanie — is the mutant lovechild of your basic beanie and baseball cap. You like beanies, you like caps; what's not to like? In the 90s, some skaters considered this item to be the height of cool, alongside translucent visors and caps twisted exactly 40 degrees to one side. Legendary skater Tom Penny was one of them. He kind of made it work, but let's face it: today the peaked beanie looks more like your nan's tea cosy than the latest in streetwear steez. Today's weird peakless caps are probably the modern equivalent of the peaked beanie. Such are the changing tides of cap peaks.
Light blue denim Levi 501's are one thing. Baggy-ass Jnco jeans — seen in many an early 90s skate video — are quite another. That's where the line needs to be drawn. That's when you realize your 90s obsession has its limits. These jeans, with their legs the width of oak stumps, swallowed your whole shoe and looked like two parachutes attached to your legs. When it rained the shredded bottoms became soggy and got caught under your heel. On top of that, you were forever hoisting them up to avoid flashing your bum because no belt could carry the weight of these horrendously oversized jeans.
Somehow, despite the ubiquity of canvas belts in the 90s, those pants kept slipping down. And yet, the military-style 'webbed' belt is another skate trend unworthy of resurrection. The main reason being: once you threaded it through the flat metal buckle, there was always a floppy excess that dangled. That became cool, too — to have your belt poke out three inches beneath your flannel shirt, a chord that your mates could yank for lols. Add to that the fact that some kids would use felt tip pens to scrawl the names of their favorite bands on ("<3 KoЯn"), and you've got one of the grossest skate trends of the decade.
Clumpy Skate Shoes With Unnecessary Features
Airwalks and old school Vans were out by the late 90s. Simplicity was over. The dawn of the clumpy skate shoe with a shit-load of unnecessary features was upon us. Designed by the more athletic skater — the kind of skater who was invariably 'inspired' by the Air Jordan — these shoes boasted a "cushioning layer of dual density EVA" (wtf), a "protective lacing flap," "shock absorbing poly-urethane mid-soles," a "reinforced ollie area," and a whole bunch of other pointless features. Not least the fabric hook attached to the heel to help you slip them on. In reality, no skater needed help because their shoes were so loose they'd fly off mid-trick anyhow. Yet that's not the worst thing about them. The worst thing about them was that they were so padded you literally couldn't feel the concave of your board under your feet. Thanks padding. Oh yeah, and they looked like ski boots.
Clumpy Backpacks With Unnecessary Features
Obviously to go with your clumpy shoes you needed a clumpy backpack. And like the shoes, they needed heaps of features too. You could strap your board in, there were hidden pockets for your weed, and possibly a built-in stereo. Chad Muska proudly donned one in the late 90s and even skated with it on. Again the trouble here is that, when you're not Chad Muska and you're skating down the street, your balance is completely thrown off by the sheer bulk of the thing. It's like trying to skate with a weekend's worth of camping gear strapped to your back. More to the point: wear a bag like this and you risk looking like a giant turtle with a skateboard.
XXL Cargos With Huge Pockets
All Saints wore them, yeah, but so did a lot of skaters. And sure enough they've made a tentative comeback recently, with Dickies and Polar leading the charge. Yet in their original form — huge pockets, huge leg width, drawstrings for adjustable length, beige — they're likely to hurt your eyes. Back then, some skaters would roll up one leg as a sartorial statement, and no one ever used the hard-to-reach pockets. Obviously. Because they had regular pockets.
Adding a wallet chain to the above trends was definitely a step too far; a look that fueled the parody of 90s skaters as seen in Clueless. The idea with the wallet chain was that you could throw yourself down a set of stairs and not lose your wallet; and of course, to make it harder for pickpockets in sketchy neighborhoods. But the fact remains: a long chain hanging down the side of your leg like a dog lead, incessantly slapping your thigh as you jump around, is not going to tie together your 90s throwback look the way you hoped. It's 2016 now; if you see someone walking down the street with an open flannel shirt, small hoop earrings, copious amounts of gel in their hair, and a chain attached to their stonewashed denims, then you know they've tried just a little too hard.
Text Oliver Lunn