Skate culture has helped shaped fashion in various ways, even though the subculture did not originate with aspirations to impact what people were wearing. Its care-free, laidback attitude has become a trend influencing youth culture movements, pop and street style. In recent years, the subculture has gained popularity in the Arab world, with 7Hills, in Amman, Jordan leading the regional wave.

7Hills is a non-profit, skateboarder-driven and community based park in Amman, Jordan. It was launched with the aim to create safe, public safes through free of charge activities to empower the rising youth of Jordan, a country that has one of the youngest populations in the world, with 63% of its population under the age of 30. Through the culture of skating, 7Hills bridges social, racial, religious, gender and age divides, bringing people together. By providing a free, democratic and secure space for all, the Jordanian skate park works alongside international and local NGOs to help address the rising societal inequalities evident today.

The subculture of skating has always been about democracy and accessibility, which is why the rebellious sport unintentionally became one of the fashion industry’s most sought-after and co-opted subcultures. The culture of the sport goes beyond skateboarding itself, it has a rich history of rock, art, rebellion and hip-hop. It is not like a traditional sport, where uniforms are mandatory and are known all round the world, it’s a sport of self expression, where fashion is in fact an extension, or rather a parallel, of or to oneself, indicating a certain way of life, interests, and values.

A fashion aesthetic

For a lot of skaters, their clothing choices are based on convenience. However, skater fashion became popular in the 90’s after the rise of the punk-rock era. Think plaid shirts, ripped jeans, shorts, oversized t-shirts, and snapback caps. In the 90’s, the dress code associated with the subculture immediately identified you as part of a niche group of individuals who shared a common ideology.

Today, the link between skater attire and the culture it is derived from are blurry. The style has become a fashion aesthetic, with various high fashion brands cashing in on its popularity. Think of Supreme x Louis Vuitton collaboration, Dior Homme’s 2016 Runway or Gucci’s 2019 campaign where the brand collaborated with skaters from around the world for an inclusive, skate-orientated campaign. In the region, we’ve seen the likes of Dubai-based streetwear label, Shabab International and Kuwait-based celebrity favorite, Claudette the Brand, gain momentum, attracting a loyal base that sell out their items as soon as they drop!

Some of the most popular trends we see today are in some way or another rooted in skate subculture. It brought in a contemporary style with street-style clothing, including jeans, jumpers and sweaters, and graphic t-shirts becoming fashionable among the masses. So why is this subculture so fascinating and popular? Because the fashion industry has a history of cashing in on the “other”. Since skater attire was mainly about convenience, one could suggest they didn’t care about their appearance, a way of life many of us craved and a fashion aesthetic we wanted to emulate.