There’s an old saying that goes “clothes make the man.”Â If you dress for success, you’re typically more apt to find it.Â 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.Â Â 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.)Â Â Â 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.)Â Â Â 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.Â 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.Â He did double-corks a decade before the X Games were invented, married a Penthouse Pet and stared in his own McDonalds commercial.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.Â In so doing, Shannon and Tina’s efforts laid the groundwork for everything from fur trimmed pink vests to anatomically functional fits.
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?Â 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.)Â 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.Â 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.Â In so doing, our industry has taken the liberty to bite his style like it was a piece of short cake.
13.) Scotty Whittlake —Â 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.Â 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.Â Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.”Â 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.Â Prior to Shaun’s helmeted attack on all things action sports, wearing a helmet was considered a fashion faux pas.Â 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.”Â 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.Â 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).Â I’ll buy lunch for the first person who gets a perm to complete their Jed kit.
The bottom line?
Fashion is fun.Â 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.Â When you put a superman costume on, a part of you feels like you can fly.Â If dressing like your favorite shredder gives you the confidence you need to go learn some new tricks — then I say do it.Â 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.Â It’s ok to wear tall tees on a Monday and half tees on Tuesday.Â 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. Â 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. Â It’s an amazing full circle phenomenon.