How Skateboarding Took Over Paris Fashion Week

Skateboarding and fashion is a love story for the ages—a mostly one-sided one. Fashion’s desire for authenticity, for gritty realness and youthful abandon, has made skateboarding a wellspring of inspiration for designers. Skaters, meanwhile, like to feign an indifference to fashion. But they are meticulous and opinionated, willing to take risks. And they are intensely aware of what they’re wearing—mostly because it affects how they skate and how they look in photos and videos. Skaters, like designers, are image makers.

In the last few years we’ve seen the precarious marriage between skateboarding and luxury fashion advance to spectacular heights. Virgil Abloh made skateboarding an essential pillar for Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection—and now that line is in the hands of a man known as Skateboard P, who invited several skaters to mingle with the celebrities and editors at his latest runway extravaganza in Paris last week. At the Wales Bonner show, New York skate phenomenon Tyshawn Jones sat front row next to fellow Adidas skater Na-kel Smith. Even the venerable skate blog Quartersnacks asked the question: “Why is every skater on Earth in Paris?” Skaters have become fixtures at—and in—the shows, but this season felt like an apex moment for the fashion and skateboarding crossover multiverse.

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Atiba Jefferson in a John Wick tee on the steps outside Sacré Cœur—a nod to the fourth installment’s climactic fight scene.

Atiba Jefferson

Of all the skate events going on during Paris Fashion Week—and there were many—Vans went biggest and hardest with a weeklong “Paris takeover,” which culminated in a rager at the summit of Montmartre with performances by Kaytranada, Venus X, and a headlining DJ set by Justice. Downhill from the stage, Vans installed a skate bowl for its team to shred, while a crowd packed with fashion heavy-hitters like Jonathan Anderson, Paloma Elsesser, Fai Khadra, Haider Ackermann, Moses Sumney, Sarah Andelman, and many others flooded the grounds of the historic Sacré-Coeur Basilica.

Over in the Marais, the iconic footwear brand also mounted a photo exhibit featuring 25 years of work by the legendary skate shooter Atiba Jefferson. Across the more than 200 photos on display, Atiba’s lens captured the history and evolution of modern street skating, tracking the progression of both tricks—they get gnarlier—and style.

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