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26th October 2022

Why do students love to look like skaters?

What is skater style and why has it become so popular for students in this decade?
Why do students love to look like skaters?
Photo: FORMAT arw @ Unsplash

Skater style first made an appearance in the 90s when skateboarding was widely popularised. The style developed from a need for comfortable but protective clothing that could survive both the streets and skateparks. It soon became one of the most defining fashion trends as it established a subculture of rebelliousness and an anti-establishment stance.

Despite its popularity at the time, skater style has been on the back burner for the past few years until recently. Clothing brands such as Urban Outfitters, Zara, and H&M are selling cargo trousers like there’s no tomorrow, and you can hardly walk down Oxford Road without seeing at least one student wearing them. So where has this revival of skater style come from, and why has it been favoured by students?

Even though skateboarding is said to have originated in the 70s, it was made popular in the 90s. It coincided with the grunge aesthetic to form a new fashion style that would take over the entire decade. An article in NSS Magazine once said, “Skaters have gone from outsiders – often by their own wish – to faces of a new fashion generation.”

The clothing initially focused on functionality; cargo trousers and jeans, boxy t-shirts, hoodies, and a sturdy pair of trainers such as Vans. However, that functionality has now evolved into what’s called the skater style which embodies both casual and edgy designs. As a result, this has taken the skater style of clothing to a new level with unique pieces, pops of neon colour, and caps and beanies have become a regularity.

In the early 2010s, Cara Delevingne was known for popularising the tomboy and skater styles which emerged on the runway. Today, Billie Eilish adopts a skater-inspired style which has not only made her stand out as a singer, but has also re-popularised the style for the younger generations. Writing for The Guardian in 2o13 about the prevalence of skater fashion, Lauren Cochrane stated, “Skateboarding holds an allure because it’s one of the few authentic subcultures that still exists for young people,” which I think still rings true today.

The most popular skater style brands are Stüssy, Palace, and Carhartt which together encapsulate the foundation of the aesthetic.

Stüssy sells ‘big ol’ jeans, cargo fleece trousers, oversized hoodies, and graphic tees – the essentials for building a skater-inspired wardrobe.

Palace is a brand created by skaters for other skaters. They’re all about unique and limited clothing drops, making them extremely popular in streetwear. They use their skate team to promote clothing that is heavily inspired by the 1990s and pop culture, releasing it on Friday mornings across each of their five seasonal periods – Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Ultimo.

Finally, Carhartt is a clothing brand that brings about the durability in skater style. Founded in 1889 as a clothing brand for heavy-duty working clothes such as cargo trousers, jackets, and jeans, it has now accidentally found itself often used for skaters – with Carhartt jeans a staple in any skater’s wardrobe.

So what is it about skater style that has seen it as a trending movement among students? In my opinion, it’s both a combination of the practicality of skater-style clothing, as well as its origins rooted in a rebellious subculture that has made it popular within the student population.

Baggy trousers and oversized hoodies are important for the cold weather in Manchester. They’re also comfortable clothing for long days of studying. In addition, the retro feel and embracement of bold pieces tie in with many students’ love for thrifting and vintage shopping, making it both a sustainable and affordable style for many. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that students all over the country have been adopting this revived style known purely for its functionality, comfort, and uniqueness.

Imogen Mingos

Imogen Mingos

Head Fashion & Beauty Editor 2023-24 | Awarded Best Newcomer (The Mancunion) at MMG Awards 2023 | Highly Commended for Section Editor of the Year at MMG Awards 2024

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