As always, the United Kingdom has a buzz about it. With the hot weather being more frequent and skateparks going up all over the place, although they are mostly uninspiring carbon-copies, it seems that interest in our favorite pastime (skateboarding) is ever-growing.
At last guesstimation there were 24 skateboard companies in the UK. All of this industry is great for the scene, but the competition is fierce. After a terrible Christmas and a slow pickup to the year, most retailers have reported a gradual rise in business. This has had a knock-on affect to the skate industry, making for some interesting shake-ups.
However, the ideas keep coming and the enthusiasm for homegrown talent and brands remains strong.
Also adding to the mix is the number of companies using Far East production and selling product at unbelievably cheap prices. It’s making the playing field very uneven, leaving the more ‘core UK skate companies having to discount good product to compete. As times seem to get harder, the draw of higher margins and a cheaper end-product are going to change the face of skate business as we know it.
Summer brings contests, and the first of 2003 was held at the Millennium Dome in London. Billed as a competition to decide the best UK team-Clown came out on top, Reaction placed second, and Minute followed in third. Unfortunately not all 24-ish teams entered, making the whole thing a bit of a waste of time. Oh well. At least winners and losers alike were treated to a live performance by Kelly Osbourne. Lucky them.
The skate art scene is thriving. A Surface In Between just completed a three-week run at The Art House in London, featuring the work of a vast array of skaters and artists who got creative over the winter. The main installation was a collaboration between Rich Holland and Cornwall wood technician Alex Osbourne-no relation to Kelly. Viewed from a gantry the space had white transitioned walls all around with an angular funbox affair in the middle. The show was a huge undertaking, and as always, the organizers ran the whole thing for nothing.
Landscape has just released pro boards for Toby Shuall and Olly Todd. Death skateboards has two new pros: Mark Nicolson and Lee Blackwell. Death skateboards is continuing to make weird and wonderful boards and graphics. The new Tough Love board is made for the kids who might not have enough money to spend on a new board every week. Using thicker plys, the company hopes to make the planks last longer. Right on. There is also a classic I Hate Kevs graphic that seems to be popping up all over the place. Translated into Americanese, a Kev is a jock.
No More Reaction
After a run of six years, UK distribution company New Deal UK’s own brand Reaction skateboards is no more. Whether this is a budgeting move or a push to concentrate more on the distribution of existing U.S. brands remains to be seen. Alex Cock, sales manager at New Deal UK, says the company’s decision to dissolve the Reaction brand wasn’t a difficult one: “The UK market is presently oversaturated with British brands, so for Reaction, it wasn’t really happening-we just thought that at this time, it would be better to stop doing it.
“Obviously our main business is our U.S. brands. That’s always been our focus, and always will be,” adds Cock. “Reaction has always been a really small part of what we do.”
Dirty Sanchez, an MTV show featuring Matt Pritchard, Lee Dainton and ever-mental Dan Joyce, is number one on the MTV viewer’s charts.
Chris Massey seems to be the filmer of the month with his collaboration with Josh Stewart (Static and Adio films) and the imminent release of his new video Portraits to promote the Landscape Skate Company. It should be out as you read this.
A new film by Death skateboard’s Dan Cates and Mark Nicolson is in the works. Squadrophinia is to be the third film from the Power stable. With the previous film proving to be an epic creation, this is a spacee to watch.
The first video project from Sidewalk’s Ben Powell and Chez is also in the works. This is due out in mid-August with sections from a variety of skaters representing the full spectrum of UK skaters and more, with rumors of a DVD at Xmas with extra features, including an as-yet-unobtainable film from the dark days of the UK’s skate history.
Blueprint is working hard on its third video due out in 2004. The team’s own Scott Palmer has just gotten engaged to his longtime love Rachael. Congrats, Scott. Blueprint will release its new minimal series anytime now.-Pete Hellicar