Introducing Team USA’s Olympic Skateboarding Uniforms

As you undoubtedly know, Nike released their Olympic Skateboarding uniform collection not too long ago for the four Olympic Skateboard Federations they sponsor: Brazil, France, Japan, and United states. Nike shipped a handsome clothing collection, but not anyone is pleased with it. The selection to not protect clothing as “performance equipment” has most likely unfavorable penalties for the potential of skateboarding’s ecosystem.


It’s exciting that there’s not a solitary uniform, but somewhat plural: uniforms. It’s a snazzy collection that offers a variety of solutions for the skaters to use in competitiveness.

“It’s far more of a package of sections than an actual uniform,” Kelly Fowl at Nike explained. “Because we were being genuinely cognizant about the panic of the Olympics and that skateboarding would have this homogenized seem through a typical uniform. So we produced a giant collection of clothing that bundled anything at all that we could photo anybody becoming into. At the commencing, I believe it was like upwards of 20 skus. We want individuals to be individuals when they’re skating. If another person does not want to use, say, a pair of keep track of pants, then they can use the khakis. So we produced a package of sections, generally, as a substitute of a solitary uniform, like, ‘Here’s your 3 piece outfit,’ and all people has to use it and seem like the Sims workforce in the ’70s, you know?”

Picture: Courtesy of NikeSB/TransWorld SKATEboarding

For those who decry the incredibly strategy of a skateboard uniform (which appears to be to be the angle in most stories I’ve read about these uniforms), may well I remind you that uniforms have been a portion of skateboarding since the incredibly early days. Back again in the ’70s most groups wore a uniform of some form. Apart from the Sims workforce, there was also the Variflex workforce (pejoratively referred to as “Varibots” due to the fact they seemed and skated like robots), and even everyone’s preferred bad boys of skateboarding, the Dogtown Z-Boys, also wore a shop uniform. And when you may well believe of your self as an personal, you, me, and all of our dumb little buddies are all sporting uniforms: we gown like skaters.

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Dogtown Z-Boys. I adore a guy in a uniform. Picture: Courtesy of TransWorld SKATEboarding

“From the commencing,” Josh Friedberg, President of United states Skateboarding (USAS), added, “our purpose with the clothing for the games was just to make guaranteed that the skaters would be comfy and be ready to skate in the garments that they’re used to skating in. We worked with Nike who arrived up with a handful of unique solutions and mixtures that the skaters can choose from so that they’re most comfy. It’s like, ‘hey, let us make it purposeful and what skaters are used to sporting so that they’re, you know, not bothered by pants that are as well tight, or as well free, or shirts that really do not healthy, or any of that things.’ So which is all taken care of. Clearly Nike is super excellent at what they do when it will come to clothing and I’m actually extremely enthusiastic about their models. It feels way far more skateboarding than what a standard uniform would be.”

It must also be pointed out that Olympic skaters are allowed to use their very own sneakers and experience their very own equipment (boards, trucks, wheels, and many others.) at all moments and the Nike clothing is only necessary through Olympic situations.

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Ishod Wair and Carlos Ribeiro. Picture: Courtesy of NikeSB/TransWorld SKATEboarding

“We’ve been purposeful in our workforce agreements,” explained Friedberg, “to allow our skaters the freedom to characterize their regular sponsors in all but a few certain predicaments. They’re only demanded to use United states Skateboarding clothing in Rule 50 controlled situations, like the Olympics, and at some workforce certain appearances.”

Rule 50, as very well as Rule forty, are in essence the IOC’s endeavor to govern advertising and marketing, religious, and political messaging through the Online games in get to hold the target on Sport. They imagine in “freedom of expression,” but not at the expenditure of “peace and harmony” and a “neutral” natural environment. Rule forty, in specific, has not too long ago been up-to-date to tackle social media advertising and marketing and allow for athletes as very well as their non-Olympic sponsors far more marketing freedom. In past Olympics, outside sponsors were being not allowed to even congratulate their athletes, and the athletes, in switch, weren’t allowed to mention any entities that weren’t official Olympic partners. Even though they’ve opened it up a little bit, the principles bordering Olympic advertising and marketing and sponsors is nonetheless incredibly restrictive and hostile to personal expression. Additional on that in a second.

I believe Nike, with their designer Piet Parra, produced some pretty uniforms. I like the package notion and there are a few of exciting items, most notably the mechanic’s suit. The only detail I can discover fault with is that they’re it’s possible just a little as well polite. They form of remind me of the ambient electronica you listen to when you board a hip airline like Virgin or Jet Blue. The uniform package has a distinctly indistinct, inoffensive, modernist neutrality—whatever that means.

And so I puzzled if in designing these kits, and in Nike’s endeavours to contain “anything that we could photo anybody becoming into,” they didn’t consider to introduce some designs that were being a little out of the regular. “If I were being designing the uniforms,” I explained to Kelly Fowl, “I would have added all types of weird aptitude to the items, like a tail, or giant spikes on the shoulders—like a GWAR costume—did you guys entertain any tips that were being a little outside the box?”

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Rayssa Leal and Paul Rodriguez. Picture: Courtesy of NikeSB/TransWorld SKATEboarding

“The IOC would have some thing to say about that for guaranteed,” Kelly explained laughing. “But it’s been my practical experience so far that they [the IOC] want what we provide to the table far more than they want to inject their customs into what we do. They’re on the lookout to skateboarding to provide some thing new to the Online games. So I believe they were being becoming aware of not striving to limit the creativeness and they weren’t as rigid with the uniform recommendations as they are for some of the far more classic athletics, which was amazing.”

There are, as you would imagine, a lot of uniform recommendations and there are a whole lot of individuals who are not amazing with them. Danny Way, for occasion, has incredibly publicly announced his displeasure with the Nike clothing offer.

“If you are likely to get the blessing of skate tradition at that amount,” Danny explained in his TWS job interview, “it may possibly be well worth working with the tradition a little bit far more to do issues proper. I believe they could have been somewhat far more courteous to the tradition and also to the other brands that helped pave the way to get skateboarding to the system that they are striving to capitalize on.”

Upon first examining, I absolutely agreed with what Danny explained, but on nearer inspection I realized I didn’t genuinely comprehend what he was getting at. Who is “they?” The IOC, USAS, Nike? I offered the estimate to both Josh and Kelly to get their consider on it.

“I really do not know what that means,” Josh explained. “I mean—I’m not guaranteed. You know, from our standpoint, we are all skateboarders and we’re striving to do this for skateboarding and skateboarders.”

“Well,” I explained, “I believe there’s a general effect that the clothing sponsorship offer was just given to Nike, but there was a bidding approach, appropriate?”

“No one gave anything at all to anybody,” Josh replied. “Yeah, it’s a sponsorship offer and pretty much anybody could have proposed it. Experienced it been another person that didn’t have any competency in skateboarding, we would have turned it down due to the fact that wouldn’t have completed us or skateboarding or our workforce any excellent. And the strategy that Nike’s not engaged with, or a portion of, skate tradition at this place, that does not make any perception.”

Kelly experienced a related reaction: “I know that the federations talk to anyone which is eager to occur to them with sponsorship bucks,” he explained. “So surely a New Harmony, or a DC, or an adidas, or a Lakai can sponsor any federation. It’s surely a cash conversation, I’m guaranteed there are other factors associated, but it’s open up to whoever needs to get into it. You are going to see that there are other federations that are sponsored by individuals in addition to Nike. I believe there’s a misguided belief that Nike just gets almost everything across the board and it’s not like that.”

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Dashawn Jordan. Picture: Courtesy of NikeSB/TransWorld SKATEboarding

Even though Nike is a gigantic organization with a lot of bucks to toss all over, Kelly pointed out that Nike SB does not have the same budget as Nike Basketball—in other words, the endorsement offer was in skateboard bucks and as a result another person like DC Sneakers could quickly have offered a aggressive bid. It must also be pointed out that, as Kelly explained earlier mentioned, Nike is not the sponsor of anyone and almost everything. In Olympic Skateboarding they are only sponsoring four international locations out of dozens. Curiously, Nike is not the clothing sponsor for the host country, Japan: Nike only sponsors the Japanese skate workforce and Japanese three-on-three basketball workforce, when the country’s official clothing sponsor is ASICS. In short, I’m guaranteed you can discover numerous explanations to dislike on Nike, but I really do not believe this uniform topic is a excellent use of your dislike.

“So the conversation was not only with Nike,” I requested Josh. “There were being other companies competing for the sponsorship offer?”

“We talked to a handful of companies,” Josh explained. “And it rapidly shook out into who experienced desire and who didn’t. For some companies Olympic sponsorship programming isn’t what they do, but for Nike which is some thing that they’re incredibly focused on, so it was a pretty organic healthy.”

Even though I’m not a substantial lover of Nike, who else would you choose to produce Olympic Skateboarding uniforms? It’s quaint to imagine a core skate model like Zorlac, or Fucking Brilliant, or Whale Cock, or some thing, becoming the clothing sponsor, but do you genuinely want some sketchy skateboard organization to design, manufacture, and provide merchandise they have no past production practical experience with? I signify, my answer would be “yes,” but which is due to the fact I’m a big lover of the Stupid.

To me the uniform topic was, at the outset of these discussions, a non-issue. It felt as if individuals were being squabbling about a wedding gown when we should not even be chatting about dresses, we must be chatting about the absurdity of the wedding itself. The groom sucks—I’m casting Skateboarding, right here, as the beautiful, ravishing bride who is the real heart of awareness in her lovely wedding robe/uniform, when the loathsome groom is an hideous, pathetic, incompetent rollerblading kook. She can do far better, the girl can do. So. Much. Improved. But now I’m understanding that the gown actually isn’t a non-issue. It’s an issue.

UNIFORM VS Performance Tools

The controversy, as I’ve occur to comprehend, formulated very well right before Nike’s involvement—Nike did what Nike does and they did it well—it’s that the Skateboarding Fee (headed by Gary Ream) and World Skate (headed by the rollerbladers) did not determine clothing as effectiveness equipment and as a result it falls beneath the group of uniform. As aforementioned, skaters get to use/use anything at all they want (within just the recommendations of course) that is designated as effectiveness-associated equipment.

“Absolutely, a hundred%,” Josh affirmed. “Skateboards, protection gear, and sneakers all qualify as they have a important effects on effectiveness. Beyond feeling comfy, it’s hard to argue the same for pants or shirts.”

“So presumably another person could use a helmet shellacked with a hundred unique sponsors on it?” I requested.

“No,” Josh explained. “That is expressly prohibited by Rule 50.”

“What about their boards? Can they promote on them?” I requested.

“You can experience any merchandise which is in industry [for at minimum six months], but you can not consider and sport the method by, like, printing a board loaded with all your sponsors on it. You can experience your board sponsor, you can experience the grip tape organization that you experience for, but you can not combine other sponsored messaging into that,” Josh explained.

But clothing does not love the same freedom in skateboarding due to the fact they didn’t insist that it was also effectiveness associated. This results in a most likely big issue for Justin Regan, Director of World-wide Solution Promoting Approach at Vans, who agrees with Danny that this seemingly slight selection about the uniform is not only discourteous to skateboard tradition and record, but it could also have far reaching unfavorable effects.

“This is my greatest issue with Olympic skateboarding proper now,” Justin explained. “In the Worldwide Federation’s [IF: the Skateboarding Fee at World Skate] selection not to protect effectiveness skate clothing as equipment, it favored the Countrywide Federations [NFs] about athletes by stripping those sponsorship legal rights from the personal athletes, where they have traditionally existed in skateboarding, and gave them about to the NFs. The athletes are the big losers when the NFs consider edge of their lack of corporation to clear away their legal rights at the incredibly second of maximum visibility. It’s incredibly disruptive to the ecosystem skateboarding has formulated on its very own about the previous forty-moreover several years. This prospects to an ecosystem creating far more akin to classic workforce athletics whereby workforce owners very own legal rights vs . personal athletes where ever experienced skateboarding is presently much less formulated (i.e., most of the globe). This is the whole antithesis of the spirit and uniqueness of experienced skateboarding that you and I grew up with.”

Frankly, when I first started chatting about the uniform topic with Justin, I didn’t absolutely comprehend and I didn’t genuinely care due to the fact, as I explained, the gown/uniform is basically a symptom of the real issue, the wedding. The wedding is taking place, so there’s likely to be a uniform, so what? And, as Josh experienced explained, “Long story short, skateboarding clothing does not meet the definition of effectiveness equipment in the eyes of the IOC.”

Justin has a unique standpoint on clothing as effectiveness equipment.

“Understand that the IOC is aware practically nothing about skateboarding,” Justin explained. “It’s up to the IF to identify what falls within just the recommendations for effectiveness equipment for their sport. This selection is World Skate’s to make and recommend back to the IOC. Josh and Gary were being supposedly performing within World Skate to notify these conclusions on behalf of skateboarding. A selection by World Skate to protect skate clothing as equipment would favor the athletes and help to preserve our existing experienced skateboarding ecosystem. A selection by World Skate NOT to protect it provides the nationwide federations, like United states Skateboarding, the legal rights to provide clothing as portion of the ‘on field’ workforce uniform, the most noticeable, and therefore precious, real estate.”

My first reaction was in alignment with Josh: pants and shirts as equipment? Pfft. From my very own practical experience, I realized a prolonged time in the past that it does not matter what I’m sporting/riding when I skate due to the fact I suck no matter. On the other hand, I identify that a whole lot of skateboarders are incredibly specific about their equipment and their attire (down to the colour, even) and it’s possible that must be taken into account.

Justin ongoing: “The first challenge is that this defaults to the effectiveness argument, which any excellent skate effectiveness clothing company can demonstrate rapidly and quickly that skate effectiveness clothing can and does indeed meet the definition if requested to do so. We can assert effectiveness and we can back up that assert. Skate boarders have signature pants and signature items of garments. At Vans, for instance, we have hard drives comprehensive of study and development, design, and athlete and consumer perception facts to assist the certain skate improvements in our pants and tops.”

To illustrate an alternate path that skateboarding could have taken, Justin pointed to other Olympic disciplines where the clothing is described as effectiveness equipment. The most exciting: Women’s Beach Volleyball. People very small, two-piece outfits the woman athletes use are described as effectiveness equipment and as a result just about every athlete can perform with their very own athletics clothing sponsor to manufacture their attire to their exact technical specs. There are, of course, far more recommendations that have to have to be followed (the Olympics is practically nothing if not principles, principles, and far more principles), and all the uniforms collectively seem uniform, but the personal athlete is ready to use what they’re most comfy sporting, characterize their sponsor, fulfill their contractual obligations, and get paid for it. Take note in the underneath photograph, the two ladies are both sporting clothing that conforms to the Worldwide Beach Volleyball Federation’s uniform recommendations, but one is made by Mizuno, the other by ASICS.

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Two United states Beach Volleyball teammates sporting clothing designated as effectiveness equipment. Take note the Mizuno and Asics logos. Picture: Courtesy of TransWorld SKATEboarding
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The Official Olympic template for all Women’s Beach Volleyball uniforms (there are actually various templates for many styles—not just bikinis—including one that is comprehensive pants/sleeves for athletes from international locations with religious/cultural parameters.) Picture: Courtesy of TransWorld SKATEboarding

If Women’s Beach Volleyball was ready to present an argument to the IOC that the scant sum of materials that contains their bikinis is “performance equipment” (purpose: “They favor to use a two-piece due to the fact there are much less places for sand to conceal. They really do not perspective it as swimwear or anything at all like a trend assertion, for them, which is their uniform.”), then it would seem to be even a lot easier to make the scenario for skateboard clothing.

“In skateboarding, the athlete is in control,” Justin explained. “The athlete gets to negotiate their bargains and when the look at will come in, it goes to their lender account, proper? But if you consider away clothing as shielded equipment, the athletes really do not get to select what they use and it results in being the workforce that gets to select, and which is pretty much cash out of athlete’s pockets and into the team’s lender account.”

At minimum the athletes will nonetheless get to use their most well-liked equipment from their hard excellent and footwear sponsors, while. True, but Justin states that even those places are not safe and sound. He went on to explain what he phone calls “the knock-on effect” and supplied the story of 2014 Sochi Men’s 50 percent Pipe gold medalist, Iouri “I-Pod” Podladtchikov as an instance. He showed me an impression of I-Pod’s victory celebration and requested, “What’s wrong with this photo?”

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Iouri “I-Pod” Podladtchikov celebrates gold at the Sochi Olympics—but what is wrong with this photo? Picture: Courtesy of TransWorld SKATEboarding

If you are like me and really do not know anything at all about snowboarding, the answer is: his board. Quiksilver does not manufacture snowboards.

“Quiksilver,” Justin stated, “is his key sponsor, but he was not ready to use Quiksilver outerwear due to the fact it was not shielded as equipment and Workforce Switzerland marketed that sponsorship to some other organization. And so Quiksilver explained to I-Pod, ‘Okay, very well how can we get credit history for almost everything we have completed for you and your job? Oh, very well you are only building five hundred bucks a month from your board sponsor? All proper, we’ll buy you out of that and we’ll make you a token board.”

Quiksilver experienced a board made six months prior to competitiveness, place it on a retail shelf somewhere “for sale,” and voila, it satisfied all of the skills for official Olympic effectiveness equipment. On the one hand, I believe it’s ingenious and hilarious what Quiksilver did (sneaky devils), but at the same time his board sponsor, who was of course not big more than enough to contend with Quiksilver cash, genuinely acquired screwed. As Justin insinuates, the knock-on impact could also come up in skateboarding: when clothing is not shielded, the hard-excellent brands are at hazard.

“We must all agree that we have to have to protect clothing,” Justin explained. “It’s the greatest challenge and no one’s chatting about it. Every single athlete agent must be up in arms about this. For the excellent of skateboarding, this selection must have favored the personal athletes about the workforce. This results in a new and alien ecosystem in skateboarding shifting it from personal sport to workforce sport. This may well not seem to be like a big offer to the uninitiated, but in my belief this solitary selection virtually surely assures that the Olympics will have a disruptive impact on the existing experienced tradition of skateboarding that we know and adore today. That’s not to say that numerous excellent issues won’t occur out of the Olympics for skaters and for the competitors—there will be excellent things—but we could have completed it so substantially far better in methods that preserved and shielded our endemic tradition. I genuinely imagine Josh means very well and his conclusions are informed by what he thinks will be in skateboarding’s best desire. It was in no way likely to be excellent and as skaters we may well just be up against an insurmountable opponent in the Olympic device.”

In Josh’s and USAS’ defense it must be pointed out that Olympic Skateboarding federations all over the globe are beneath huge financial force due to the fact of a funding gap—no one receives any Olympic cash until finally following the 2020 Online games. Also observe that the US is one of the few international locations in which the governing administration does not provide funding for its Olympic software. Justin would argue that they/we could have been far more innovative, but the Nike offer was undoubtedly an attractively simple financial alternative for USAS.

“Financially, our clothing offer with Nike SB has been one of the cornerstones that has allowed us to assist American skateboarders through qualifying for Tokyo,” Josh explained. “Unlike numerous NGBs, we really do not reserve any of our athletes’ personal sponsorship legal rights. Our purpose has often been to make guaranteed the skaters are the ones that benefit from this Olympic inclusion. Alongside with the monetary assist we have been ready to provide, numerous of our skaters have been ready to increase new sponsors since we first started naming United states Skateboarding nationwide workforce customers very last March.”

Like it or not, skateboarding is about to improve. Once again. As Mark Waters (USAS Men’s TM) so eloquently explained not too long ago, “When has not skateboarding improved?” True, but it’s often preferable when those variations are initiated by skateboarders for the excellent of skateboarding. Even though there is noticeable disagreement about the consequence of this uniform decision—who is aware how this is likely to pan out? —we’re all buddies and skateboarders right here. Now, far more than ever, skateboarders all over the globe must be united and informed so that we’re far better equipped to make conclusions that preserve our dysfunctional local community and protect the spirit of skateboarding as it rolls into this new potential. But if I know skateboarding, which is not likely to happen. Unite? Pfft. The only detail specific about skateboarding is that it’s often likely to be one big, silly, wild experience. So fasten your seat belt, sit back, rest, and love your flight.

Now, cue up Virgin Atlantic Airlines’ ambient electronica playlist…


Places all over the world wide web that posted stories about the uniforms were being incredibly amusing to me due to the fact the the greater part were being assigned to writers who have no strategy what they’re chatting about. These were being some of my favorites:

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Picture: Courtesy of NikeSB/TransWorld SKATEboarding

“They form of seem like some thing personnel would use at the official Olympic village McDonald’s. Just the assumed of skateboarders sporting uniforms appears to be absurd. Skate boarders are meant to be amazing, young, individuals. The French workforce looks like they belong caddying the golf occasion.” —Stephen Douglas,
As Brian Eno explained about ambient songs, “It should be as ignorable as it is exciting.”

“Here’s the detail about skateboarding: anybody who can skateboard is legally mandated to be sizzling. If you can do tips on a skateboard, you are routinely a amazing and sizzling particular person. Tony Hawk, for instance, is amazing and sizzling.” —Sophie Kemp,
Much like the Vice-created documentary, All This Mayhem, this estimate completely illustrates Vice’s prolonged and personal connection with skateboarding. Way to go, Sophie!

“But the boiler suit Nike made for the French women’s workforce? That is bon, bébé!… It’s the fabric embodiment of skateboarding je ne sais quoi. We’re not expressing you must root for France or whatever—although the strategy of Brigitte Macron on French early morning tv, standing and it’s possible even moving on a Louis Vuitton skateboard, is genuinely building me believe we must Photoshop a skateboard beneath the ft of the woman figure in Liberty Foremost the People—but the uniforms are surely where ~it~, as they say, is at. If a women’s web site needs to switch out a magnum opus on how to skate like a French girl, we would surely research it in Proustian depth.” — Rachel Tashjian,
Um? Rachel was incredibly bold (or drunk?) when she wrote her evaluation, but also Improper. All of the silhouettes in the complete package are obtainable to the athletes in all four international locations. In other words, Brazilians, People, and Japanese skaters can also don the bon bébé boiler suit.

“I really do not believe we have viewed models pretty as bold since the Grateful Dead helped the Lithuanian basketball workforce get to the 1992 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.” —Francis Xavier,
Not entirely legitimate due to the fact there have been some pretty wacky Olympic uniforms all over its present day record, but I appreciate how Francis worked that Grateful Dead reference in there.

“All of the skating attire will be paired with Bruin React sneakers, which feature a suede upper portion and a respond foam sole included in a zonal herringbone sample to provide traction. Nike produced the sneakers realizing athletes like to really feel the board through their sneakers when they shift.” —Kristine Klein,
Improper. Sneakers are effectiveness equipment and so competition are ready to use their footwear of option. Presumably so that they can really feel the board when they shift.

This short article originally appeared on and was republished with permission.

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