A mouse iconscroll

Branding in the Skateboarding Industry

ART Post share icon

So you’ve heard of the skate brand Thrasher — but why? Skateboard companies’ unique branding identities and how they are portrayed is the key to success in the skateboarding community and beyond.

Skateboard brands are a major aspect of the skateboarding industry and what it means to be a part of the culture. Outside of the skateboarding community, you may be surprised to find the cultural impact skateboarding has on music, films, and fashion. This influence can also be seen in the branding and marketing strategies.


Skateboarding culture can’t exactly be fit into one box. It’s not about riding a board, it’s about showing creativity, relieving stress, and most importantly having fun. An escape from the “real world” is the one thing all skateboarders have in common.

Street skating gained popularity in the 80’s, and has only continued to grow since then. The rise of interest in the sport brought together a diverse group of skaters from different backgrounds and new ideas to define the culture.

Teenagers at Mosley High School holding skateboards in 1988
Mosley High School (1988)

In result, skateboarding culture has continued to be used as a marketing tactic across platforms to reach a broader demographic. Because of the rising popularity, skateboarding is perceived differently, and many are more accepting than ever before. Music artists and filmmakers are known for including the “skateboarding aesthetic” as a part of their visual identity—making it mainstream.

Branding & Design

Skateboard decks are the binding that holds the general population and the sport together. The space on the underside of a board is prime real estate for skaters to express themselves and show their personalities through art & graphics.

A lot, if not most, of skate brands start out small and design their products with a minimal budget and embrace creativity. Each brand has its own persona and characteristics that define them. Brands are an expression of the founders, their teams, and consumers—a love for the sport. Some of the most successful brands are created by pro skateboarders, using their pre-existing following to boost their brand’s popularity.

Ed Templeton and skateboard graphic art
Ed Templeton

The designs seen on skateboard decks are unique to each brand and artist behind the work. Again, these graphics are commonly made by pro skateboarders, who also have a passion for creating. Art styles vary depending on who made them: from simple, hand-illustrations to intricate graphic designs. Sometimes certain designs will gain popularity and become an iconic staple in the community.

Skateboards with Sean Cliver skateboard artwork and skateboards with Don Pendleton artwork
Sean Cliver / Don Pendleton


Mark Gonzalez skateboard art from 1986
Mark Gonzales “Natural Skateboard Deck” (1986)

Due to the explosion in interest/popularity of skate brands/culture in the fashion industry, many high-end or even just larger companies have noticed the hype. Brands such as Louis Vuitton, NorthFace, Nike, and more have collaborated with authentic skate brands to produce clothing lines, shoes and accessories. This is an example of how fashion and skateboarding culture influence each other.

Some examples of these collaborations are:

three images of skateboard and fashion brand collaborations featuring clothing, a teddy bear and backpacks
Stussy x Dickies (2018) / Palace x Ralph Lauren (2018) / Supreme x Louis Vuitton (2017)


Skate Videos & Advertising

New brands are commonly discovered through features in skate videos and feature length films. Skateboarders are usually sporting their favorite brands from head to toe: hats, t-shirts, shoes, right down to their boards. Skateboard decks are a major opportunity for advertisements and allow the skaters to express their personalities. Brands sponsor products to skaters in hopes of receiving promotion through these videos and additionally, skate photos.

photo of Oskar Rozenberg for Thrasher Magazine and photo of Jason Dill doing a back heel skateboard trick by Michael Schmelling
by Oskar Rozenberg for Thrasher Magazine (2021) / Jason Dill by Michael Schmelling (2020)

Skate photography and videos are extremely popular in the culture, especially street skaters. This documentation is important for showcasing skills and tricks. Skate photography and videography is not only a great way for brands to be promoted, but for skaters to showcase their tricks, and photographers to get a chance to capture the magic. These images are sometimes published in magazines, such as Thrasher, Skate Jawn, TransWorld Skateboarding, and more, reaching an even bigger audience. Filmers, photographers, and editors of this content are more than likely to be a skater in the community. The ability to see skate brands in action allows these creatives to catch the eye of the consumer.

Skaters sitting on Illegal Civ statue by Zamar Velez
Illegal Civ (2020) by Zamar Velez