Snowboarding’s Top 20 Fashion Pioneers


30’s Thursday

by Preston Strout

There’s an old saying that goes “clothes make the man.”  If you dress for success, you’re typically more apt to find it.  While a man (or woman’s) worth doesn’t really hinge on what they are wearing, fashions certainly do frame the world’s physical perception of our character.   Since for many folks perception equals reality, it may stand to reason that even if a 9-year-old Chinese kid makes the clothes, in some ways it’s kind of true that “the clothes make the man”.

When choosing which snowboard clothing “makes you”, consider these 2 immutable laws of fashion I’ve noticed during my 30+ years on this Earth:


1.)    Whoever does the opposite of whatever the masses are doing is considered fashionable. (See Fig. A & B)
If everyone’s wearing black, the person who starts wearing white is considered fashionable.

2.)    The likelihood that a fashion pioneer’s fashion trend will catch on is directly proportional to their athletic abilities.
Simply put — the better you are at something, the more ridiculous you can dress and people will still copy you. (See Fig. C)


With these Laws understood, lets flip through the frostbitten pages of snowboard history and recognize some of the folks I feel are most responsible for yesterday and today’s major fashion trends.  They took things in their own direction and justified their path with admirable on-snow prowess.

(The following is by no means a comprehensive list PLEASE ADD THE RIDERS I MISSED IN THE COMMENTS SECTION).


1.) Damien Sanders — Perhaps the original snowboard fashion icon, Damien’s personification of 80’s style (from his bright red hard-boots to his long blond Mohawk) was nothing short of impressive.  He did double-corks a decade before the X Games were invented, married a Penthouse Pet and stared in his own McDonalds commercial.  He was a neon clad fashion badass.

2.) Craig Kelly — Like a radical version of Lance Armstrong, Craig’s class, raw talent and smooth demeanor made Oakley Razor Blades, neon kits and hectic headbands par for the course throughout the late 80’s / early 90’s.

3.) Shaun Palmer — Palmer made a career out of giving the world the middle finger.  From shaving/dying his hair to look like a balding clown wig to shirtless runs at the ‘93 US Open, Shaun Palmer’s fashion put the “fu” in function.

4. ) Dale Rheberg — Back in ‘92/93, along with guys like Roan Rodgers, Tarquin Robbins, Noah Salasnek and a slew of others, Dale wore exactly what he wore skateboarding up on the hill to snowboard: big pants, big flannels, chain wallets, etc.  Deemed “new school snowboarding” it was an exciting time in our history where for the first time we looked completely different than skiers.


5.) Jeff Brushie – As hip-hop snowboarding’s fashion godfather, Brush bucked a system of neon like no other.  Big pants, natty dreads and insane pro model grahics make snowboarding’s true OG partially responsible for every frosty tall-T you see sliding down the slopes.

6 / 7.) Shannon Dunn / Tina Basich — These gals were fed up with wearing clothing built for the boys and set off to develop outerwear that hugged the curves and let feminine freedom ring.  In so doing, Shannon and Tina’s efforts laid the groundwork for everything from fur trimmed pink vests to anatomically functional fits.


photo: Zimmerman

8.) Terje Haakonsen — Terje was/is so f–king good, that he made plain, functional outerwear all the rage for nearly a decade (see Law #2).

9.) Trevor Andrew — NYC, Paris, Milan, Nova Scotia?  Yup, from plain old Nova Scotia (basically the Delaware of Canada), came a kid who fueled the rebirth of the snow-gangster look with Wu-Tang die-cuts, massive McTwists and Technic headphones (long before Skull Candy was even a business plan.)  Skip ahead a few years and the TRZA switched his name to Trouble and helped put the wayfarer Oakley Frogskin, city dude look on the map.


10 / 11.) JP Walker & Jeremy Jones — JP & Jeremy ushered in an era of doo-rags and a fresh style in a major way during the early 2000’s.  Propelled by commanding MDP video parts, their impact in SLC and beyond was so huge that during the mid-2000’s Brighton looked like a JP Walker / Jeremy Jones cloning facility.

12.) Mikey LeBlanc — Never short on style (yet always short), Mikey’s Holden outerwear brand invented the successful fusion of classy streetwear style and functional outerwear.  In so doing, our industry has taken the liberty to bite his style like it was a piece of short cake.

13.) Scotty Whittlake —  From shredding in leather jackets and fully spiked Mohawks, to grinding his teeth to points with a file, no part of Scotty’s punk-rock image was ever a veneer.  Scotty lived and breathed the life of a vagrant and opened the doors to a whole new fashion regime up in the hills.

14.) Laura Hadar — She may look like a sexy/feminine Trevor Andrew who hasn’t bathed for a month, but everyone would agree that Miss Hadar stared typical “girly girl” style straight in the eyes and then kicked it right in the ovaries.

15.) Travis Parker – The leader of the “It’s ok not to be cool” movement a few years back, Travis’ ability to be himself in the face of a very judgmental industry, was truly groundbreaking.   Propelled by Robot Food films and embodied in his upstart brand Airblaster — Travis did whatever he wanted (whenever he wanted).

16.) MFM — Although many have brought thug life to the mountains in the past, nobody has done so with the legitimacy of Mark Frank Montoya.  You’d have to be a real badass (and a real dumbass) to ever step to this dude.

17.) Danny Kass — Danny’s skills on a snowboard may only be eclipsed by his skills as a marketer.  The mastermind of his own brand (Grenade), Danny decided that if anyone should be capitalizing on the ass-whooping he was putting on the world of competitive snowboarding, it should be him.

18.) Corey Smith — Long time man-AM Corey Smith bomb dropped the “I found my clothes in a Vice magazine wardrobe closet” look into snowboarding around 2004.  His subsequent involvement in brands such as Ambiguous and Comune have enabled others to do the same.

19.) Robbie Sell — Although by no means the first to couple denim jeans and snowboard boots, Robbie arguably breathed life into the modern day acceptance of the old “Texas Gore-Tex.”  Robbie’s outside the funbox shredding and timeless style sent a whole new generation downhill in dungarees.

20.) Shaun White — A lot of people like to hate on the dude, but you have to give credit where credit is due: Shaun made widely acceptable the smartest piece of fashion on the market, the helmet.  Prior to Shaun’s helmeted attack on all things action sports, wearing a helmet was considered a fashion faux pas.  Some antiquated circles still frown upon the lollypop look, but all agree that it’s a very smart choice.

As our practical neighbors to the north, Canadians seldom find themselves at the forefront of anything “fashion.”  Regardless, the following dudes will most likely be responsible for the most snow-clones this coming season:


1.) LNP — LNP may put his pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of us, the only difference is that his pants fit a 9-year-old girl and are the color of a ripe banana.  Laurent is an example of skate-influenced shredding done with such skill and bravado that you can’t just help but think the gypsy/hippy thing looks kind of cool.

2.) Jed Anderson — Jed “The Chosen One” Anderson’s Thrasher, thrift store style unintentionally finds itself in the modern day driver seat of the fashion mobile (see Law #2).  I’ll buy lunch for the first person who gets a perm to complete their Jed kit.

The bottom line?

Fashion is fun.  It’s a big part of our history, and yours for the exploring and the enjoyment.

There’s a reason why Halloween is such an awesome holiday: it’s a scientific fact that its fun to play dress up.  When you put a superman costume on, a part of you feels like you can fly.  If dressing like your favorite shredder gives you the confidence you need to go learn some new tricks — then I say do it.  You can bet your ass I’m going to be spending a few days this winter in full ’93 get-up trying to replicate all the tricks from Upping the Ante whilst grinning from ear to ear.

(oh, and feel free to flip the fashion switch at anytime: fashion-fashOFF.  It’s ok to wear tall tees on a Monday and half tees on Tuesday.  If it feels right, go for it.)


After thought:
Through my fashion research, I’ve noticed an interesting fashion cycle anomaly I call the Gangster Fashion Cycle Paradox.  In this instance, gangster snowboarders want to look like gangster skateboarders, who want to look like gangster rappers, who want to look like real gangsters, who want to look like basketball players, who often (Shaq, Kobe, etc) take up snowboarding as a hobby.  It’s an amazing full circle phenomenon.

27 replies
  1. drexnfex
    drexnfex says:

    nice work. very comprehensive.

    you did however forget one group. the +30 dudes who don’t care about this shit anymore. you can find them on pow days having more fun than those listed above.

    they’re easy to spot too. they usually running last years gear.

  2. paullygun
    paullygun says:

    great read. funny stuff…I especially loved fig. D-the gangster fashion cycle

    who was it that used to rock the neon green bad boy club onesy’s? Don Szabo?

  3. noyou
    noyou says:

    “Although many have brought thug life to the mountains in the past, nobody has done so with the legitimacy of Mark Frank Montoya.”

    really? so someone that use to be a complete hesher in his early days and then turned “gangsta” is considered the most legitimate og out there? i’m assuming you came to the conclusion of him being the most legitimate because of his ethnicity? ahaha. that’s funny stuff

  4. GAY
    GAY says:

    LNP and Jed didn’t wear tight pants and all that shit from the start when did Jed go tight 2 years ago? and LNP 3? Shitty how because you’re in the lime light you set the trends when it’s been done long before you, you should have put Joe Sexton in there for the tight pants trend, if it wasn’t for him so many people wouldn’t have started wearing tight pants.

  5. andrew
    andrew says:

    mfm is a true gangster from denver. that guy is a full on badass. not to mention that only a real gangster could figure out how to swindle so much money out of snowboarding.

  6. Tim
    Tim says:

    Great Great stuff I agree with you on the LNP and Jed thing they are clearly influencing a whole slew of new kids these days no matter what the bitter guy above me said. Some names that seemed to be big on influencing that aren’t on here might be: Ranquet…….Jaime Lynn…….Hebbel……..maybe Bradshaw/Goon

    Good job though keep it up

  7. danny
    danny says:

    this is really funny. and to the person who decided to name himself GAY, go watch that technine video that joey has a part in and watch the neoproto video laurent has shots in the intro of. you will see that laurent wore jeans then and joey wore baggy pants. sorry man. oh and also as a side note you could take into account the whole stance width subject going from narrow to wide to narrow again and how this fallows pant fashion.holy shit im a nerd.

  8. Legal Tender
    Legal Tender says:

    Yeah, Joe Sexton didn’t bring the tight pants thing back…it was a gradual deal. The punk rock look was cool for like three years before everyone realized wearing tight jeans in the snow is stupid. LNP included. From there the hipsters and scenesters said, “hey, they wore tight pants and didn’t get beat up” and rocked it.

    Jed and LNP are at the forefront as far as having the most clones.

  9. someone
    someone says:

    LEgal tender and drew, you guys are fucking faggots!!!!hahahahaha

    Oh man its crazy how gay you 2 individuals are.


  10. angry hippie
    angry hippie says:

    hebbel, kooley, nima and jordan brought in the tight pant. if you want to go a little deeper, wittlake had the first real tight pant on holden with the leather straps to cinch the tight. hebbel and crew from there would take their pants in a la reynolds.

    all of this was about 2004. so anyone with the slim in 2009 getting credit needs to go back to the firsts.

  11. angry hippie
    angry hippie says:

    ya know what? i aint scared to put corey smith, robbie sell and forgash in that mix above as well.

  12. Someone
    Someone says:

    I crave penis but I’ll never tell anyone. Instead I’ll become homophobic to repel any suspicion that I, myself, may in fact be homosexual (which I of course am).

    I’ll post comments calling others gay and stupid to mask my own insecurities. I don’t really snowboard, but I love to hate on it. Belittling others makes me feel better about my own compromises.

    When speaking on message boards I validate all of my actions with some sort of unmaintainable pompous platform. I’m not so intelligent, and I have godawful grammar so I will TYPE IN CAPITALS to try to better convey my twisted uninformed opinions.

    I am anonymous. I am “someone”.

  13. Brandon
    Brandon says:

    My regards to comment #20. I agree wholeheartedly. Also, Legal Tender and Drew make rather valid points. Jed, Laurent, and Kooley look-alikes can be found at almost any shred spot these days. Someone, if you can’t see that, maybe you should take a moment to pull your head out, and open your eyes, tool. I’m sorry if you’re a bit jealous of their recently acquired credibility in the world of snowboarding, but either way, the gypsies are here, and I don’t see them leaving the scene any time soon. Those guys have tons of style, and a bag of tricks much deeper than your shallow little mind. It’ll be alright bro, maybe you could just hop on and talk smack about your supposed “peers” there, although I’m sure it’s safe to assume you haven’t snowboarded in quite some time, seeing as how you’re probably spending more time at the club pointing out other “fags,” or finding a dude to wax your board, (if you catch my drift). When the snow falls, we’ll be out there shredding; in which case, we’ll see you…NEVER. Sorry bro.

  14. skateboarding is better
    skateboarding is better says:


  15. cheeze dick
    cheeze dick says:

    Jed’s style is way to played up. Saw him at high cascade this summer and I hope that tight stance shit never catches on. Looks horrible.

  16. Ryan
    Ryan says:

    it isn’t fashion, but i’ve noticed how its cool these days to preach about how much cooler skateboarding is than snowboarding. i may or may not have been guilty of this myself, but reading comments along these lines make me realize how stupid it is. if you really think snowboarding is gay, why are you reading snowboarding websites? if skateboarding is really so much better, than shut the fuck up, and go skate. otherwise stop trying to sound cool.

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