Heaven Is A Half Pipe: 18 Coolest Skate Clothing Brands For Men
These are the best and most authentic skatewear brands you can buy right now. Offering practical, stylish clothing that works on and off the board.
You don’t have to work on a factory floor to look good in workwear. Just like you don’t have to be a 6’5 New Zealander to look the business in a rugby shirt. The same is true of skatewear. Even if you’ve never owned a skateboard – even if you gave Tony Hawk a miss on the PS2 – you can still look great in some loose jeans and a battered pair of Vans.
The best skate clothing brands appeal to everyone, firstly because the clothes they produce are functional and comfortable, and secondly because they’re unassailably cool. Whether you consider yourself a skater or not, you’ve likely worn the hoodies and cargo pants, chunky sneakers and logo tees – all the casual staples that first found a home in skate parks of the 80s and 90s.
That scene, intertwined with music genres and broader streetwear, became an indelible part of American counter-culture. Which meant it also became an influential corner of menswear – one that’s more relevant today than ever.
Want to (re)introduce skatewear to your wardrobe? Start with these incredible skate brands, which are making the coolest, most authentic skatewear on the market today.
Why skatewear has become so popular
Skatewear first rose to prominence in the 80s and early 90s. The subculture became popular at the same time as MTV, The Simpsons, VHS, video games and, later, the internet. A skateboard was a youthful, defiant badge of honour. And what started as a daring, social hobby for a select few quickly took on mainstream appeal thanks to icons such as Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen, who pulled off tricks that people had never seen before.
The clothes were a part of the appeal, of course. Baggy cargo pants, hoodies, white tube socks and flat-soled sneakers were the default skate uniform, a world away from smart-casual clothing and more rebellious than preppy jock sportswear.
Rising at a similar time as hip-hop and grunge, and sharing some roots with surfwear, skate clothing brands became influential in fashion at large. The likes of Stussy and Thrasher were some of the first labels to go big with logos on tees and sweats, turning the people who wore them into walking billboards. Their pop-culture prints, bold colours and illustrations also made menswear funny and self-referential, maybe for the first time ever.
Sure, they’re comfortable, laid-back garments. But it’s the sense of identity they give the person wearing them that’s important. That’s why skatewear and streetwear became so popular and influential, and why it eventually even melded with luxury fashion.
Why skatewear works in a modern wardrobe
There isn’t much about skatewear that doesn’t fit in the contemporary wardrobe. The very nature of skate clothing is its inherent comfort, and, given the important role soft fabrics and relaxed fits play in today’s style scene, it’s little wonder skatewear is so popular.
It’s practical too. Items like cargo pants, carpenter trousers and slouchy, oversized tees have been adopted by skaters over the years, mostly because of their functionality. Pockets are handy for carrying daily essentials, while baggy fits provide all day comfort, whether you’re on the board or not.
Classic skate items like tees, hoodies, sneaker and caps can easily be incorporated into an existing wardrobe of menswear staples. They complement the likes of chinos, Oxford shirts, chore jackets and even relaxed fitting blazers.
You don’t have to commit to a full skate look, simply pick and choose three or four pieces and combine them with what you already own. It’s this practicality and versatility that has ensured skatewear has remained so popular today.
Skatewear is still on trend too. Leading fashion houses continue to borrow from skate clothing vernacular, with hoodies, baggy tees and flat-sole sneakers regularly proving among their most popular items. Where once luxury brands wouldn’t be seen near big logos and bright patterns, now they all want a piece of the streetwear pie.
If you want to stick to the original skate brands though, avoid Paris and Milan and look to California, New York and London. These are the places where the most authentic skate labels were created. Many of them still call these cities home, while others have cropped up all over the rest of America and Europe.
The coolest skatewear brands for men
Palace is one of the UK’s most famous streetwear exports. Established in 2009 in London, founder Lev Tanju started small but has since expanded to sponsoring a full skate team and collaborating with numerous big names on its clothing range.
Everyone from Adidas, Reebok and Umbro, as well as Dover Street Market, Ralph Lauren, Rapha and even Elton John have partnered with Palace.
If you’re after hyped pieces including tees, hoodies and shoes emblazoned in some of the strongest skate branding around, Palace is your first port of call.
An OG skate brand, Girl was founded in 1993 in California by Spike Jonze, Rich Howard, Mike Carroll and Megan Baltimore. The brand’s sharp branding instantly marked it out from the pack, with its trademark women’s bathroom logo featuring on everything from boards to tees.
Today the brand is still going strong, primarily producing boards alongside a select number of collaborative shoes, tees and hoodies. One for those in the know.
The skate world was always fairly niche, so diehards were naturally sceptical when Nike entered the scene. The juggernaut created its SB line in 2002, and it has since more than earned the respect of skaters, both amateur and pro.
Nike SB Dunks are arguably the most iconic skate shoe of all time, while the rest of the sub-brand’s minimally designed range is among the most stylish, too.
You’ll have seen Stussy products around before, even if you’re not familiar with the brand. This is thanks to its graffiti-style logo, which it has planted across everything from T-shirts to boards since the company’s inception in the early 80s.
Initially established by Shawn Stussy as a surfboard brand, it’s since expanded to a fully-fledged clothing range spanning cargos, hoodies, shoes and shirts, nearly all of which feature its logo in some place or another.
Founded in 1994 by James Jebbia, Supreme helped change the course of not only skatewear, but the fashion industry as a whole. It started life as an underground label pedalling T-shirts and hoodies with its signature bright red ‘box logo’.
But following a series of high profile collaborations and hype surrounding its product (the brand was the first to introduce the concept of limited edition ‘drops’, which would always sell out within minutes), it would go on to partner with the world’s foremost luxury brands, such as Louis Vuitton, permanently bridging the gap between streetwear and high fashion.
Today, the hype has abated slightly, which, luckily for you, means you no longer have to camp outside one of its flagship stores for the best part of a week in order to get your hands on one of its sought-after logo tees.
Another original skate brand, founded in 1992, Element is renowned in the industry for its boards and apparel.
Expect a range of classic pieces from check shirts and white tees through to logo hoodies and coach jackets.
A more grown up take on skatewear, this is the brand to head to if you want easy-to-wear pieces sporting a name that garners respect.
While not strictly a skate brand, Dickies produces a number of items that have been widely adopted by the skate community.
This is largely because of the American workwear favourite’s hardwearing fabrics, comfortable fits and practical eye for detail.
We’d highly recommend picking up a pair of Dickies signature double knee pants, which are great for skating in and look just as sharp off the board as on it.
Polar Skate Co
With a Swedish sensibility thanks to its Malmo roots, Polar Skate Co has carved out its own niche within the world of skatewear.
Fusing minimal styling with practical design, the brand was only started in 2011 but has quickly built a cult following thanks to its corduroy five-panel caps, mid-century-inspired bowling shirts and classic check overshirts.
Formed back in 1990 in Ohio, Alien Workshop has helped define the world of skatewear for over 30 years. It’s seen it all, from the rise of the subculture in the‘90s and 00s through to its current adoption by mainstream fashion.
Alongside its range of boards, the brand designs a full collection of gear, with logo tees, beanies and baggy jeans always proving popular.
With a heritage longer than most names on this list, Santa Cruz is a California brand that has been around since 1973.
One of the oldest skatewear companies in existence, it still sells a vast range of apparel, spanning everything from tube socks and caps through to baggy T-shirts, jackets, sweatshirts and painter pants.
Converse didn’t originally design its shoes for skating in. All Stars were intended to be worn while playing basketball, with the high ankle and soft (at the time) sole offering plenty of support and grip on the hardwood.
The shoe’s flat sole also meant that when skating took off, they were a natural choice. Today there are better options when it comes to tackling a half pipe – check out the brand’s AS-1 Pro, for example, which is made with the help of one of the world’s best skateboarders, Alexis Sablone – but a classic pair of Chuck Taylors will never look wrong teamed with key skatewear pieces like carpenter pants, oversized tees and grungy flannel shirts.
Vans remain the ultimate skate shoes, six decades after they were first introduced in 1966. A California classic, Vans were loved by skaters in the ‘70s for their durable canvas uppers and sticky rubber soles, which made staying upright easier.
Today, the brand’s wider range of apparel works just as well with smart-casual clothing as it does classic skate gear.
Another brand that’s not strictly skatewear, Levi’s has long been loved by skaters for its comfortable, durable denim, which it has been producing for well over a century.
Recognising this, the company now offers a line of dedicated skatewear, which is packed full of relaxed-fitting denim, printed tees, durable chore jackets and laid-back shirts. It’s the type of clothing that both looks good and performs, meaning you’ll get a lot of wear from it.
Based in Montreal, Dime started as a video production company and evolved into a fully-fledged clothing brand.
Offering a range of classic pieces, including sweatshirts and printed tees, its garments often incorporate bold shots of colour and expertly designed logos, making them great for introducing a bit of personality into an otherwise pared-back look.
Started by two friends in a terraced house in Bristol, UK, Route One has long been the destination for serious and amateur skaters alike.
While its shops stock a wide range of other brands, Route One’s own gear is up there with the best. Expect wide-leg double knee pants, logo hoodies and tees, and even the occasional sharper piece in the form of Cuban collared shirts.
Similarly to Dickies and Levi’s, Carhartt has long been appreciated by skaters for its utilitarian designs. The US company specialises in clothes that are built to last from hardy fabrics and with practical details.
Multiple pockets on jackets, relaxed fitting trousers and heavyweight hoodies all form big parts of its collections. The Detroit-based brand isn’t afraid of a logo either, with its signature wave branding featuring on everything from sweatshirts to backpacks.
Anyone who grew up playing Tony Hawks and trying skating out for the first time will know DC Shoes. The brand’s distinctive fat tongued shoes were the hype sneakers of their day, perfectly combining with stone washed denim and oversized check shirts.
Founded by Damon Way, Clayton Blehm and the late Ken Block, DC continues to make its bold, chunky kicks today, alongside a wide range of complementary apparel.
Pop Trading Company
Started in 2016 in Amsterdam, Pop Trading Company has quickly built a following for its intelligent, easy-to-wear designs.
Skatewear but with a slightly more mature approach, you can expect subtle logo tees, straight-leg corduroy pants, collegiate cardigans and jackets cut from beautifully soft, tactile fabrics.