Curren Caples – Interview

It’s easy to forget that Curren Caples is only 20 years of age. Having accomplished so much over what has been a fairly long career already, he’s been a prominent figure with Vans and Flip since a tender young age of 13 which led him to eventually turning pro at 17. Curren brings speed and power to the world of surf and skateboarding, successfully applying his smooth style to almost any terrain to sit at the forefront of the intertwining worlds. Curren is very much representative of whats happening in skateboarding right now, and during the Vans 50th celebrations at the House of Vans we were lucky enough to get Curren away from the bowl for a quick chat on where he’s at now, what it’s been like growing up on Vans and whats next for the young ripper…


How’s 2016 treating you so far?

It’s been alright man, can’t complain really…

You didn’t have a full part in the Vans Propeller video. Does that mean you’re working on something else for this year?

Yeah, well I haven’t really started anything yet. With the Vans part, I mean there’s so many guys that it’s just so hard to get filmed. Basically everything I filmed for the video came in the last 3 months, at that time I started going on trips quite a lot. When we first started filming I was like 16, so back then none of my footage would have been good enough to use for today, so I kind of waited because I knew I could get better stuff down the line, there was no reason to start. I was stoked I got what I did though, I felt like I had more footage and that stuff went in to the raw clips, I’m not really sure why that didn’t make the final video, but that’s cool.

You and Louis Lopez have been riding for Flip since you were kids. What would you say has changed the most about skating in that time?

Erm, I don’t really know. I was just so young when I got on FLIP, back when they used to have all those Feast tours and stuff. Nothing has really changed too much to me. Maybe more contests ? But I’ve been doing the same thing for a long time.

Which would you say has a crazier fan base, skating or surfing?

I would say surfing. It’s just different, there’s definitely more girls that look at surfing than skateboarding that’s for sure.

You’ve said in the past that you find surfing more fun than skating. What would say is the best and worst thing about both?

Well I guess the only reason I saw surfing as more fun for me over skateboarding is just because there’s no real pressure on me. I mean anything you don’t have pressure in and enjoy doing is always going to be fun. Skateboarding, I’ve been doing it my whole life and I love it, it’s just sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming at times, like when I have to skate a contest or something like that. I can’t really explain it as well as I should.

I guess the best thing about skateboarding is that I just really enjoy going fast. It’s always fun to mess around too, I love just messing around, probably too much. The worst thing, hmm.. I’ve never really been asked that, I guess the worst in any sport is the injuries for sure but if you can avoid that it’s all good.

With Surfing, when a day is like super good it’s a really special feeling. You’re in your home town and you just get super excited, and it’s hard in a way to get that with skateboarding. There’s certain ways in skateboarding to get that similar feeling, but with surfing it’s not even like the act of surfing, it’s more about the anticipation before, that’s the real exciting part. It could be the best day ever even though you go out and don’t get shit. I guess when it comes down to it I just like doing the same thing in both, messing around and cruising, going fast.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

What has it been like growing up on a company like Vans ?

It’s been insane, I’m psyched to be on Vans for as long as I have. I got on right when I got on FLIP so I was like 13?. It’s been rad and I’ve done so much, been to a lot of places with Vans, like today, it’s so cool to come to somewhere like this [House Of Vans]. This is my second time here and it’s just insane, I was so excited to come back just because this place is so rad.

Who would you say has been the most influential person in your development in skateboarding?

My whole life I’ve looked up to Geoff Rowley. Although I try and look at everybody around me and try to get inspiration from everybody in different ways. I couldn’t say just one person that I really want to copy or anything like that, I just try and look to multiple people and copy [laughs].

Being on FLIP you have close ties to the UK scene. How do you find the skating in UK?

It’s funny I actually haven’t skated here that much. I know FLIP’s pretty much a UK brand but I’ve definitely done more in other parts of Europe, like Germany. The first time I came here was when I was 14 and since then I haven’t really been over here that much, I could be wrong though. There’s been a lot of Europe trips and they all kind of blend in.

Who would you say is the most underrated dude coming up in skating at the moment?

Hmm. That’s a hard one. With Instagram and everything no one’s really hiding anymore. I would say the best dude coming up for me is Daan Van Der Linden, he rides for Vans and Anti-Hero. He’s rad.

 Any UK riders?

Well I’m kind of losing track with like who’s from where. But I’m sure if I spent more time here I’d definitely know. I’m not saying there’s not insane skaters here, I’m just not really too involved in the scene.

Do all the new young faces ever create any pressure for you to keep putting stuff out?

Yeah for sure, I mean every ten year old kid can do a 540 now, and just because every kid nowadays can do it, I felt like there’s no point in even learning one because its not even that cool anymore. I just try and do different variations of things. I’ve been trying to learn some good flip tricks on tranny and stuff like that. I’m just trying to figure out a different angle where I can be different from everyone else. Instead of doing a 540, maybe like a no-handed 540? I mean I know people do that already, but yeah just a different take on the trick to stand out. Younger kids look up at the pros and try and copy what they do, so I wanna do something else before they catch up!

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Away from skateboarding and surfing, you’re a keen photographer right?

Yeah I don’t really take as many photos as I should, I mean I have enough cameras…

Do you shoot with film?

A bit of both, a lot of point-and-shoot stuff. I don’t really have any ‘real’ cameras, I did and I got it stolen, took it on one trip and now it’s gone. I would say I took the best photos with that camera but I’ll never get to see them which sucks. I only have shitty quality photos really, but they’re good enough.

Is there a particular subject you like to shoot? Skateboarding?

It’s mostly landscape, I don’t really shoot skateboarding. I have in the past just messing around with my point & shoot, not like set up flash or anything like that, I don’t really own all that stuff. Although it’s definitely something I would want to get in to. I just built a mini ramp in my back yard and it looks really cool, the back of it’s against this old antique lighting store that’s made out of exposed brick, wall coping and tile, so I would like to shoot people who come to my house to skate against that background. It’s off a tree house too, it looks pretty rad, I should probably invest in some flashes and a decent camera to get the most out of it.

Do you have any other hobbies?

I’ve been shaping surfboards lately, I would say that’s my hobby if anything.

Is that at your Dad’s store?

Nah, I have a shape bay at my house. One Christmas I really wanted to shape a board and then my parents bought me a regular foam blank and I knew how to shape it. We had this old shed that was filled with junk, so I was like can we just turn this in to a shape bay? I’ve definitely shaped a lot of boards, just a lot of them sucked. But lately, each board out of glass has been decent so I’m pretty psyched.

What’s next for Curren Caples?

I’m filming a Push part, that’s what I’m doing this year. I’ve also got the Vans bowl series and that’s pretty much what I’m focusing on right now. Hopefully I can get a good Push part, I’m kinda bummed that theres so many comps this year, with X-games and all the other bowl contests – the Dew Tour and all those, but hopefully I can get something out that’s good and tops everything I’ve done before.


Words: Kieran Sills & James P.Lees

Imagery: Lily Brown


Tony Alva – Interview

Tony Alva is a name that is synonymous with skateboarding. Alva in my opinion not only represents the original foundations that skateboarding was built upon, but himself and the Z-boys gave the world the blueprint of the ‘spirit’ of skateboarding. During Vans 50th anniversary celebrations we were blessed with the opportunity to speak with TA, and in wanting to find out more on both the growth of Vans and skateboarding over the years, there aren’t many others who can offer his level of insight in to both. Through his work with Vans and his own company Alva, he continues to promote and share his knowledge in skateboarding and surf to help inspire the younger generations to this day. We’re stoked that we get to share some of that knowledge with you in our Tony Alva interview…


In your Skateboarder Mag interview back in 1977, you spoke on how you envisioned the future for professional skateboarding and your answers were quite prophetic as you predicted it’s growing popularity. Looking back, is skateboarding now what you thought it would be back then?

Yeah, I mean there’s a few things that I wish it would have improved upon, but other than that it is. I was having a conversation earlier and they were saying how I had a sense of being a little bit prophetic at a young age as well, which in a way I look at as kind of amazing, that at 19 years old I knew that some day skateboarding would be as big as it is now. But the bottom line is; I think that skateboarders still deserve more, as in the commercial side of skateboarding and to be treated more professionally. Professional skateboarders should be able to make a living and have health insurance and stuff like that, similar to other professional athletes you know? It’s not like that yet, but at the same time I think the media portrayal of it, the enthusiasm, the lifestyle, the attraction, is as big if not bigger than I thought it would be at that age. I never really knew it would be this popular, and this technologically advanced.

Do you think that skateboarding has lost elements of its ‘Punk attitude’ now that it’s become so big? Perhaps lost elements of it’s creativity with the introduction of the internet?

Not necessarily because technology is always there, and in a way a lot of skaters benefit from that.  The thing that I get a little dissatisfied with is the aesthetic side of things – the beauty and the art of skateboarding. Where style and grace and using skateboarding as a vehicle of expressing yourself, especially with speed and power, is really not that important sometimes when it comes to how people look at it. More people are more in to how technical your ability is instead of how you handle your expression. Like with music and surfing, sometimes the best surfers and musicians are the guys that are aesthetically doing the simplest things with the most grace, I think it comes down to like an old American cliché – “less is more”.

Do you think it’s the case nowadays that everyone is learning the same tricks rather than finding their own ways to create through movement on the board?

Well for me that goes back to where we were just emulating the moves on the waves from surfing and then we would take it to the next level where we started going in the air and doing aerial tricks and stuff like that, so I think that it depends on your vision. Nowadays especially, there’s a lot of kids playing video games and then going out skateboarding, I mean some kids don’t even skateboard they just play the video games! So it depends where your mental attitude is and how you envision yourself doing something.

There’s a mental process too and the mental process of skateboarding is as important as the physical part of it. You have to envision that move before you ever execute it. Then it takes a lot of practice, and I love the saying “oh practice makes perfect”, you know they say that? That’s bullshit! Because the human condition does not allow for perfection, we are never ever going to attain perfection is any aspect of our life because of the human condition, so to me it’s more ‘practice makes permanent’.  When you’re doing something over and over, and doing it religiously, it becomes permanent and becomes so much easier to a point where it becomes almost instinctive, you don’t think about it anymore, you just go out and do it. With your mind being the computer, the control over your body, the body instinctively follows. It’s almost like martial arts to where it gets to a stage of satori, everything is one and you’re just in it. That to me is the beauty, that’s the meaning of skateboarding. That’s the practice is permanent part of it to where you don’t think about it any more, you just do it and it becomes easy. It’s called just being in the moment. It takes a lot of practice. Especially for young kids, because young kids they just don’t get it. Their mind is going too fast, they’re just thinking about “oh man I gotta pull that tre flip, I gotta pull that heel flip”, always about the technical aspect of the trick when it’s just like dude, just go out and skate.

Do you think the rewards in professional skateboarding perhaps blurs their vision slightly?

Yeah, stop fucking obsessing on the rewards, the gold star, the money, the new shoes, what the girls are thinking of you. I know it’s part of growing up, we can’t help of thinking about all the “what am I going to get from this”, I was the same way. In the Dogtown film when I said “ I’m gonna get mine now”, that ego-centric, driven, selfish way of thinking, which in a way isn’t a bad thing because what it does is drive you to be the best you can be and everything I did back then got me here, but I don’t want to run my life like that now. I couldn’t, there’s no wisdom in that. You have to progress, you have to learn from your mistakes and I made a lot of mistakes from my selfish, self-centred and self seeking attitude towards life. It was mainly about ego you know, I thought I was better than everyone else and I guess I won a lot of contest and did a lot of really good stuff at that time, but no one wants to see a 57 year old man acting that way you know, its really ugly! [laughs]. There’s no grace in that. Absolutely no grace in that.

Grace to me is when you make something really difficult look easy; graceful. And surfers are really good at that, I learned a lot from surfing. Guys like Jerry Lopez, the list could go on, but Jerry Lopez is the perfect example, riding the most dangerous wave in the world, standing there and making it look like he’s just completely a part of the wave. It was amazing, he was the guy who started Lightning Bolt Surfboards, Mr.Pipeline they called him.


I’ve heard you speak on the freedom and simplicity of skateboarding back in the 70’s. Do you feel that’s closer to being restored nowadays as it becomes more widely accepted across the world?

Well it’s always been a part of it I feel, that’s what attracts kids to skateboarding – there’s no rules. There’s no coach, no rules, no guidelines, limited supervision when it comes to competitions and skating in skate park environments, it’s still pretty wide open. I see it as like a colouring book, you don’t have to stay within the lines if you don’t want to, you can spray outside the lines, literally. When it comes to music, art and skateboarding, all those things are something that are really an expression of your inner self and you can’t really go out of bounds. You can go out of bounds and come back in, but as long as you do it successfully. Skateboarding isn’t about what other people think, it’s about how it makes you feel. 

Z-Boy’s and Dogtown revolutionised skateboarding in the 70’s and helped to shape skateboarding as we know it. Who do you feel, if anyone, has had a similar impact on the world of skateboarding since then ?

Mark Gonzales. He totally changed things big time, so if I can mention just one person it would be him. I would say Jay Adams and Mark Gonzales, those are the two guys who took it spontaneously to the next level through their natural ability. Also through exposure; through the photos they got in magazines and the video parts they put out, and their attitude, like straight up “I’m not doing this to please anybody else, I’m just doing this because it’s what I like to do and I’m good at it”.

The Gonz is still doing stuff to change skateboarding, with his art and stuff like that. I saw him the other day actually, he came to skate with us in New York at the skatepark and he shows up with no skateboard! He had no board, he just rolls up with his Yeezy’s on riding his frickin bike, and we’re just like “Dude, you get your ass in here right now”. To me he’s like a 14 year old kid still you know ? So I’m like “Get in here”, he comes in and starts trying all our boards, it’s Caballero, Hosoi, Rowley, Grosso, Hussan and myself, and he ended up really liking Christians and Grosso’s board the best, I think mine was a little too wide I don’t think he was ready for that, he rode it though, he tried haha. But yeah Mark is just genius. He’s borderline idiot savant, but he’s still genius [laughs]. I think a lot of those guys are like that, on one side they are completely out of this world and on the otherside they are just crazy, he’s an artist!

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

One of many firsts for yourself saw you start your company Alva – the first ever skater owned and operated company – a huge move for a 19 year old… 

I was lucky that I had met the right guys to help me with the business part of it because I wasn’t ready to really run the business and all of that. I was more the talent and I was good at designing and testing the products, but I wasn’t really ready to just full on accept the responsibility of running a business.

What pushed you to start Alva at the time?

I didn’t really want to ride for any of these other teams and continue to have to share the profits with all the teams I was riding for. There was a bunch of other teams that I rode for that sold a lot of boards and made a lot of money, and I felt like I needed to make the money myself and become a part of the commercial success of the business. So I had to step it up and take it to that level. Starting Alva is a major positive aspect of my career and my life.

And it’s still going strong to this day. Was it a conscious decision to invest in young riders on the team?

Yeah I have a bunch of young kids on the team, I like them the best because they are so much easier to deal with. With some of the pro guys back in the day it just became really high maintenance, even though it was great that I had some really good pro teams.

Are there any independent companies that you are backing today?

Just my truck sponsor Independent, I’ve always loved those guys. All I really need is my shoes and my trucks and my board company, I’m really simple when it comes to that stuff. I endorse and use products in the surf industry that I really like. One of the company’s I really love is Patagonia. I really like the stuff they put out, using eco-friendly and common sense products. The way they put their products together, the way they run their business, and the consciousness they have is great. I’ve been wearing one of their wet suits lately and that is made without petroleum. Neoprene in the past was made with petroleum products which can be damaging to the environment, and they are making a wetsuit now that is made from a hemp based rubber plant called Yulex and it works really well.

It’s just a matter of having consciousness about polluting the planet and global warming and the list goes on in terms of the things we do when it comes to manufacturing products that we need to be concious of. Any company like that that’s in the skate or surf industry, I’m in to backing them as much as I can for sure and letting people know that we need to save the planet. Especially the ocean and the air for future generations.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

You have been with Vans since 1974 right? 

On & off yeah, but I’ve been with them quite a while…

During that time I think it’s fair to say that you’ve played a key role in the brands development…

Because of Steve, because Steve listens. I can’t really take credit for that, most of it goes to Steve Van Doren. He’s our ambassador and he’s always listened to the skateboarders. He’s our champion, he’s the guy that told his brother, his father, everybody else in the Van Doren family that the skateboarders were the ones that knew which direction to take the business.

Do you feel Vans has helped you to develop and grow?

Totally, it still is. Steve has given my career longevity by believing in me, not only as a person, but as an athlete and ambassador for Vans and that’s what I do, that’s my life. A lot of my trips and a lot of my business, how I make money as a skateboarder, as a surfer as a musician, are geared towards doing promotional events that Vans is involved in. I’m able to benefit from these things in more ways than just the money, it’s the experience out on the road, the travelling and basically just being a representative of the lifestyle that is Vans. Steve Van Doren is an amazing guy.

Being a part of Vans for so long you must have seen many changes, not only within the company, but also in the world of skateboarding and surf. Now celebrating it’s 50th year, what is it about Vans that has allowed it to remain relevant after all this time?

We never lost our roots. We know where we came from and the history is important to us. We give back to the culture, we don’t just take take take. We give back through things like the House Of Vans and through sponsoring different events. We are there for the youth, not just using the money we have to make ourselves look cool or on meaningless marketing campaigns to make people buy our products, there’s a lot of other companies that do do that, but they can’t buy what we have. They can’t buy the roots, the soul, the image that Vans has, because of the fact that we are a family run business that isn’t just about the products – it’s about the people. We really care about our people, we care about our team, we care about the people that use our product. We want people to have a good attitude towards Vans; therefore we provide events with music, food, art, everything that comes under the umbrella of our culture and that is what the kids like. It’s all about creativity for us, using the brand as a vehicle.

Alva Interview

Do you feel your career in skateboarding & surfing helped you to pursue your interests in art & music?

Yeah definitely, because my attitude towards surfing was that it was like an expression of your freedom, and it’s spiritual, it has a spiritual connection to it like art & music. Surfing came first to me and skateboarding just fell in to that attitude I have with surfing, it overlapped with my skateboarding for sure. At one point it separated and started to go in that direction to where skateboarding became its own entity, its own thing, but I’m glad that it didn’t get too far away from that. Surfing and music allows me to be creative, and skateboarding fit’s in to that too. It’s like a frickin’ sandwich cookie you know, one side you’ve got surfing and on the other you’ve got music and skateboarding sits nicely in the middle.

You’ve also expressed your interest in fashion in the past and also spoke on how you introduced elements of fashion in to the marketing of Alva in the early days. What’s your views on the fashion industry and it’s relationship with skateboarding?

I like vintage fashion better than anything and high end stuff. I love the stuff that Yves Saint Laurent did back in the day. I like the form and function side of things, that’s really rad. Even though that stuff isn’t functional for skateboarding, some of it aesthetically is so beautiful and to look at even women’s fashion, like John Galliano, the stuff he has done in the past is so amazing. When you look at the couture end of fashion, it’s just art. Functional fashion to me is almost like making a beautiful surf board that looks so beautiful, but at the same time it actually works really well. That’s the kind of stuff that I like. So even when it comes to surfing and skateboarding stuff, a lot of the clothes and the shoes that I wear is stuff that looks and feels good, but really what it is is that it functions well. I think the improving technology in manufacturing in the fashion part of the action sports industry is really fun. If it really works and it’s functional that’s a big part of it, but its got to feel and look good more than anything. Coz I’ll wear funky stuff sometimes that makes me look frickin’ homeless, but it makes me feel good. We have a little saying back home ” I look like a homeless guy, but I feel like a frickin’ prince”.

With such a great career already behind you, what’s next for Tony Alva?

I’ve been doing some pretty interesting things with my surf line and surf boards, I’m doing some really cool hybrid surf boards and that’s called Alva Surf Craft. That’s been pretty fun and I’m putting a lot of energy in to that. And other than skateboarding and surfing at the same time, cross training with the two, I’ve been doing some really really cool music, writing and playing bass guitar in a band called These Eyes Have fangs. We’ve been doing some psychedelic bluesy rock stuff and putting it on records and playing live, playing a lot of shows based around what we’ve recorded. Just being a part of things that I really love, and things that I really love in life is being expressive and being creative.


 Words: Kieran Sills

Imagery: Lily Brown

Additional imagery courtesy of Vans and Alva Skates

Shout out to Paul from Vans Brighton for contributing towards the interview also!


Brad Cromer – Interview

As with all of HUF’s riders, Brad Cromer’s skating speaks for itself in volumes.  With skateboarding moving as quickly as it does nowadays Brad has come up on a relatively slower rise to being where he is now. Not only does that show in his humble appreciation for getting his first, well deserved pro shoe; but in his well rounded opinions and outlook as well. As a great character with a lot to say, we’re just as stoked as him! This is the Brad Cromer interview.


First of all congratulations on the release of your first shoe.

Thanks so much!

 Could you tell us a bit about how the process came about?

It takes so long to get a shoe going.. I think a over a year ago Keith [Hufnagel] mentioned that he’d like to do a shoe with me; so of course I was trippin’ already. I was like, “holy shit they want to make a shoe with me?! What am I gonna do?!”

I thought about it for a bit then ended up going to the house and sort of throwing ideas at Hayden who’s the main shoe designer there. We just bounced ideas back and forth until he got a feel of what I wanted in a shoe. He helped me get a feel of what works and what doesn’t and then you kind of just start building it from there.

I didn’t want anything super drastic like a crazy intricate shoe you know? So it wasn’t too tough. We just spit ideas back and forth and got samples sent back and from the factories a few times then tweaked things here and there; whether it was materials or widths of toe caps and little things like that. We kind of got the basic idea of it and went from there and built it until it became what it is.

Did you trash a lot of samples in the process?

I skated most of the samples. I mean from the beginning they were pretty much what they are now; it was very minor adjustments. There was a problem with the heel that was hurting my foot so we had to fix something back there. Most of the samples I skated for the video that just dropped.

 So that painted pair was a sample too?

Yeah I got a bunch of white canvas samples. I just woke up one morning and decided to paint my shoes. I used watercolours on those and everyone thought they were like..

 A colourway?

Yeah! Which is cool because maybe people would wear those you know? I literally just sat there and painted them.

How would you rank getting your first shoe with turning pro?

Woah. I mean turning pro and then getting a pro shoe are both equally as trippy to me. As a kid I never thought I’d be a pro skater. I never thought I’d have a pro shoe. I never thought I’d make money off skating and have it as a job. I don’t think ahead too much but I never pictured ever being where I’m at now and I’m super appreciative. I’m just along for the ride really!

I try not to let it trip me out too much and just go with it. It’s a dream and surreal; it’s cool.

You were saying you wanted to film the whole shoe video in Florida. Did it work out how you wanted in the end?

Yeah it was all Florida but not to the extent that I wanted. We went there once and it was the hottest ever. It was summer in Florida; like if you picture Miami Beach at that time of year? It was deadly..

We got what we could then came back here, set up another trip and went back when it was a little bit cooler. Then it rained almost everyday..


Yeah so I didn’t get what I wanted you know? I would’ve loved to get a lot more. The conditions weren’t great so I got what I could and we put it together. It’s not the gnarliest skating but I wanted to make something that’s easy to watch. It’s just like a cruising video that smoothly goes from beginning to end you know?

 For sure it’s great aesthetically. Where was that red bridge that you smithed? Looked like a beautiful place..

It’s in a botanical garden in South Beach. It’s funny because it’s silent in there. There’re butterflies and people taking pictures of their wives you know? There was a wedding getting set up and they were doing mic checks on these huge speakers so it was really loud at the time. We just walked in with our boards and I felt super awkward but we just skated it and I got that smith.  I thought that was all I could do because it was made out of wood and splintering you know? I thought I was really cool looking for a photo.

I was just trying to skate things that look good, flow well together and kind of resemble Florida in a way. I wanted to make a video that was pleasing to eye more than like, “WOAH he grinded that!?” You know?

Brad Cromer for By The Level_wallride 2_credit Cameron Strand

 There are a lot of shoes that are adopting the toecap at the moment.  Was there a particular reason or a shoe that pushed you in that direction?

It’s funny because when I decided to do the toecap it was like year ago; so at the time there was pretty much converse and the HUF classic. It just so happens that now when my shoe comes out there’s all these toecap shoes that it’s competing with you know?

With my shoe I kind of wanted it to be slightly like the classic but I wanted the V laces. It’s a different shape too; it’s got the same shape as Dylan’s slip on. I just wanted a slender shoe with the toecap and a couple different things; so it’s kind of a morph between a bunch of different shoes.

I guess I wanted the classic toecap pretty much, but on a different fitting shoe with a slightly different design. The classic’s very rounded, mine’s more pointy and I just like the way that looks when I look down.

 When’s the all white colourway coming out for the fan boys?

I wanted it to be the first one! It made more sense to do the black/white suede ones you know? They’re gonna last longer than white canvas. If it were a canvas one first people would just rip them. They did those first two styles and then the second drop will be the all white canvas and then the red suede with a white sole I think. The white ones are canvas so they’re gonna rip but I like that. I like doctoring up the shoes when they’re all fucked up. I don’t really like fresh brand new so I like canvas because they almost morph to your foot in a way.

 You’ve shared a close relationship with the dudes at Deluxe for a long time now. Are you as tight with your teammates at HUF these days?

The cool thing about all the companies I ride for is that I’m close with all of them. I like that because I don’t wanna ride for a company where I can’t click with the dudes. I like to feel at home and believe in who I ride for; they help me out and I help them out you know?

I’m glad that I’m close with the people in the companies because I would never want to ride for something just for the money.

Who’s your go-to guy on a HUF trip?

Man they’re all pretty funny. Then when you put them all together it’s just a good time skating with those dudes.

Everyone’s their own dude. [Dan] Plunkett’s funny as shit and he can do every trick in the world. Marty’s the filmer, he’s funny as hell. Just watching Austyn [Gillette] just even skating is awesome. Watching Joey Pepper too; I used to watch him in old ass videos and seeing him right in front of me hanging out is cool. Everyone’s got their own things and together it’s just such a good crew. We all connect and click real well; the trips are always very memorable. There’s no specific dude everyone just together is a really good time.

 Is there anyone in particular that influenced your skating the most when you were growing up?

Growing up I did the whole every part that came out I was obsessed with kind of thing.

Who I would say shaped who I am now the most from being a kid would be probably be PJ Ladd. The Wonderful Horrible Life part to this day has probably been the most influential on me. He just skates super fast, super powerful and tech and the same time. He’ll fuck up a ledge then ollie some crazy thing; he kind of had it all in one. I took that and was like “I wanna do that!” Now it’s just the dudes I skate with really.

Any of the new dudes coming up that you’re hyped on?

Right now I’m super psyched on the three new Ams for HUF. I don’t know when the video comes out but wait til’ you guys see Jake Anderson. I couldn’t even tell you how good that kid is… I’m so happy that he’s being recognized and he’s Mike Anderson’s brother so it’s cool that he has his own thing you know? But yeah the Am video’s gonna come out, all the dudes are crazy; but when people Jake’s shit they’re gonna trip. I’ve seen a lot of the stuff and I was like, “damn dude I suck!” [laughs]. It’s gonna blow people away for sure.

How old is the kid?

He’s young man he just turned 20 the other day. I mean I’m 28 so to me that’s young. He’s the dude that you can go to a spot with, name anything and he’ll just do it. It’s so easy for him it’s really cool to see. When the part comes out he’s gonna be getting offers and shit probably [laughs].

 I read somewhere a while back that you hadn’t had a drink in 6 months. Did you decide to keep on that?

I didn’t for 14 months. At that time I was working on the Transworld video. I felt like I just skated as well as I should have. I felt good and that I could handle working on a transworld video easier than if I’d been drinking every night or something you know?

Would you recommend it?

If you can do it; I mean some people don’t drink. I just wanted to see what it was like to never be hungover you know? I was super clear minded. Every morning I felt fresh, hopped out of bed, ate breakfast and went skating. There was no shitty like, “aw I’m gonna just chill today.”

The day that I drove cross-country with my girlfriend and moved into an apartment I just thought fuck it and bought myself a six-pack. I felt like I deserved it after 14 months. I don’t drink like crazy but I drink here and there.

 Where are you living right now?

Long Beach, California

 Ever had any thoughts of moving back home to Florida?

All the time; I wish I still lived there. I physically can’t do what I’m supposed to do from there anymore.

It’s just too out there; skateboarding’s not as accepted there. There’s plenty of spots but they’re shitty. There’re not many filmers; there’s no photographers really. It’s not as poppin’ as it is here. I wouldn’t choose to live here but I feel like I should. I feel like it’s working and helping me grow as a skateboarder.

Are you working on any more independent projects at the moment?

I’ve been going skating in LA almost everyday with Tyler (Bledsoe), Jake (Anderson),Terps (Kevin Terpening) and whoever’s around slowly filming stuff. I’ve decided I want to do something kind of like Lo Fi I guess but more of a personal project. I feel like it’s been so constant and busy; I’m kind of sick of feeding it that quick. I feel like maybe people expect that much from me all the time. That’s fine, I mean I like to be productive and stuff but right now I’d like to film for maybe the year; take what I have and make something the way I want it to be made you know? The look, the music and how it comes out. I don’t want any trailer to it I just want it to come out. Guess I’m trying to do it how people used to do it; film for a while and put together their best shit. Now everything’s so instant. Everything just comes out and then it’s gone. I’ll slowly see what I can do and when I feel it’s time maybe put something out with the hope people like it. I’d rather do that just smash shit out like “Here’s this part, here’s that commercial!” I think it’ll be more fun for me.

The HUF Footwear ‘Cromer’ is available now at select retailers in the UK including Flatspot. and Parlour 

5 cromer_46

Words: James P. Lees

Imagery Courtesy of HUF

Kepa Acero

Kepa Acero – Interview

Last month we were invited down to the London Surf Film Festival by the guys at Reef, bringing together the UK Surf community to celebrate international surf culture and the best of British surf at some of the most iconic cinema venues across London.

On the closing night of the event we headed down to Regent Street cinema where there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. During the night we had the chance to sit down and sink a couple of cold ones with all round legend and world renowned surf explorer Kepa Acero, fresh off the plane from shredding the waters of Ireland. Check the full Kepa interview below…

Kepa Acero

Hi Kepa, I hear you just flew in from Ireland, how was it?

It was beautiful man, I saw the swell was coming so I flew there and we camped everyday for seven nights. It was cobblestone reefs which shaped the waves really well.


No not really, like 13, so I just had 4/3 and booties, it wasn’t too bad.

You’re renowned for surfing some of the most remote waves in the world, places like Antarctic and Angola. What is it you’re trying to achieve personally from doing these epic trips?

For me it’s about being curious about an unknown part of the world, and the discovery. I’ll be at home looking at my globe and think…hey, you know there must be waves there! And that makes me feel alive. Sometimes there are and sometimes there aren’t, but it’s the not knowing that is part of the buzz.

Have you ever re-visited a place, or is it more about the buzz of initial discovery?

Well sometimes you meet people in different places and become very close to them, so you want to go back and visit them. And some places just become very special through personal experience so I will always have the desire to go back and re-visit them.

Surfing different waves all over the world and such diverse climates means you are constantly switching up your boards and changing your wetsuits to adapt to the waves and the temperature. Does it ever feel hard to get into a bit of a rhythm?

For me whenever I find a world class wave, I completely forget about the temperature. And there is something very beautiful in that because you really do just forget about everything – not just the temperature or how I am surfing. For me, I’m just trying to find a beautiful wave and enjoy that experience. I have been focussing on travelling and surfing Africa because it is very difficult socially and politically, so I suppose the connection and the spirituality comes before my surfing ability as such.

Are there any experiences that stand out particularly on your travels?

Of course there are a lot, and most of these moments happen when you don’t have the camera on. When I was surfing in Angola, I was surfing by myself on a beautiful left-hander and there was no one around so I was feeling very introspective. All of a sudden a whale came and popped up about 20 meters in front of me, and this thing is absolutely huge. After being on your own for so long you feel a connection with that animal and its moments like that you know you will never forget.

Travelling solo has become your trademark so to speak. Do you feel travelling that way pushes you to interact with people more?

Yes, and strangely I think I really travel alone so I can meet more people if that makes sense. Even though i’m alone I still feel the need to document and share my experiences. I’m inspired by a lot of travel writers and I always think well, even they have shared their experience in there own way by releasing a book about their time.

Do you have a favourite travel writer?

Well when I was travelling Alaska I was reading a lot of Jack London. I also like Jack Kerouac and another guy called Paul Theroux.

Is there anyone that you have met on your travels that particularly stands out in your mind?

In the first trip I did by myself in Namibia I had a special experience with a family I stayed with for about 2 weeks. They were very poor but super happy, and thats kind of gives you a lesson you know? We live in a western culture and have a certain perception of progression, but I think maybe we should focus less on capitalism and more on happiness. Don’t get me wrong we have good things but I feel we should take on some of their values also.

There was also a moment in Alaska where I was by myself for a long time, and I felt I really needed to meet some people.  I was knocking on houses to ask directions, even though I knew where I was, and one guy let me in. I stayed with him and his family for about a week, it was a great experience and you learn a lot interacting with other cultures.

Do you feel more wary of nature or humankind when travelling alone?

Well it is different in each place, but for example certain cities in Africa you need to be more careful of people because unfortunately they are very poor and they are looking for money.

One night in Rwanda, which is a very dangerous city, I had nowhere to stay and I had expensive camera equipment and money and things on me, so I put my belongings in a plastic bag and made myself look more of a vagabond by covering myself in dirt that way I felt less vulnerable sleeping on the street.

How much freedom do your sponsors allow you to have on these trips? Is it mainly your concepts and ideas or do they ever pitch in with things they’d like you to do?

Well when I first had the idea I went to the sponsors and I said I have this idea to travel the world for remote waves, and I want to do it solo. And they said well yeah that’s great but how are you going to film yourself surfing waves? We’re not going to pay for that… So then I said well, I’m going to do it anyway. And I did and it was successful in terms of working out methods of documenting myself, and the reception it got. So the next year they told me okay we’re going to support you on this. And truthfully I am very lucky to have my sponsors, but if I didn’t I would still be doing it anyway.  And I do it all my way with my own identity and make the most of every experience and stay true to what I believe in.

I think that is what a lot of people really enjoy about you…

Yeah, and I was talking with a friend of mine who is 77 who was saying he feels like he was 35 like me yesterday, and it is real like that, time goes so fast and I know sometimes we don’t want to see that, but I want to get to that age and look back and say okay, I had a good run, I did great things.

I also have quite a close relationship with death because it is so close to me all the time, so I try to have a good understanding and a positive relationship with it. We live in a cultural society where people don’t like to talk about it, but for me it keeps everything in a good perspective. It’s going to happen anyway, and all we really have is the time right now in present moments… it makes you appreciate those moments a lot more. 

You’re an ambassador for Reef, which has such a great team and is very diverse in that it has so many different personalities. Where do you feel your identity fits in to the team?

There’s many different personalities I guess that’s a marketing perspective, but there’s many types of surfers in the industry. I appreciate what the competitive guys are doing, they are pushing the boundaries technically in the sport, and then there are other guys like me who are doing other things in free surfing, I respect what everyone is doing in their own way.

Surfing itself has grown and is so diverse now with many different characters. Where do you feel you fit in the grander scheme of things within surfing right now?

I just try to be open minded. I think the internet is great, everyone does there own thing and can represent themselves differently in surfing, but I still don’t think you can really categorise everyone.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I actually take a lot of my inspiration from other sports, like climbing. I find a lot of similarities between surfers and climbers, and I like to look at other sports and people’s philosophies outside of surfing. In one of the movie’s they were showing tonight I thought it was great when Wayne Lynch said about finding similarities within the Aboriginals dancing and relating it to surfing, with finding a rhythm. I think Art in general is about that, and being able to express yourself, that’s what I feel I’m doing when I surf.

You’re lucky enough to call one of the best waves in Europe, and for a few hours on a low tide the world, your home. Do you feel Mundaka is perhaps more localised than other spots at times? 

Well, I think this is the dark spot of surfing. We have something we really appreciate and love, and unfortunately mother nature only provides us with so many waves! Say in one period there are 100 waves, there’s 200 surfers so its human nature to compete and fight for what you love, no? But I think there needs to be a balance. Travellers need to try and be as respectful as they can, and locals need to be a little more open minded. When I surf other spots I try to get there and understand the place and how it works, and be respectful.

The trouble with Mundaka can be that it produces a world class wave, but only for a very short period of time. It’s like Cinderella! [Laughs]

A privilege of travelling far and wide for remote waves is that there are no crowds. Out of all the places you’ve surfed, have you ever seen anything particularly gnarly in terms of localism? 

Yes, there are a few places I have seen some heavy shit. I’ve seen cars burning, sometimes people go out for surf and upset someone and when they come back out the water there car is on fire. That and you know, just a lot of heavy fights and drowning’s, but that stuff is very sad. Like I say – the dark side of surfing. It breaks up the energy in the water.

Have you ever surfed England?

Yeah man, Fistral Beach and all that area. That was when I was doing more competitive surfing, It’s a very beautiful place. Even the roads out there with the scenery is amazing. I went to Bude as well actually, the surf was pretty good I remember that time.

Do you ever have any regrets with the path you’ve chosen? I guess it makes it hard to lead a traditional life, with the wife and kids and stuff?

Well sometimes I go home and I see my friends with the wife and kids and everything and I think… Fuck, what am I doing with my life [Laughs], but I think that is just a natural feeling to have. And I am really focussed on what I’m doing, and I think every person’s path in life will always have a consequence.

Theres the legendary story of you surfing butt naked in Africa. I gotta ask, what was the rash situation down below with that, had to be heavy !?

[Laughs] No, the problem is actually sunburn on my ass, I had to sun cream it up pretty good! It’s hot out there man! I don’t know, I was completely alone and the concept of wearing shorts just seemed to not make any sense, so I thought, why not..

Kepa Acero

Best surf movie?

I think it has to be Searching for Tom Curren

Would you rather hit the Reef or have a long pin down?

I think a hold down. Reef hurts! I hit my head and broke my board pretty bad in Indo not long ago. I think drowning would be pretty painless!

Strangest place you’ve signed an autograph?

I had to sign The Reef girls, you know… on the butts.

Wow how many of them?

15 or something…!

Wow that’s pretty epic, you get any digits?

No No [Laughs]

Last time you wore a tie?

Ahh man…. Weddings! And even then I bring my Reef shoes and just colour them black!

Bums or Boobs? 

Boobs for me I think.

Would you rather surf a body board or a SUP for the rest of your life?

I realise that there is a different thing for each wave like an instrument for each piece of music… But I really hate SUPS sometimes [laughs]. Probably a bodyboard!


A huge thanks to Canoe and to Reef for their hospitality at the LSFF. Head over to for more


Words & Images: Mickey Thomas


Steve Caballero – Interview

Steve Caballero is a name in skateboarding that needs little introduction. As the pioneer of various tricks as well as creator of the world’s longest running professional skate shoe, Cab’s status as a legendary professional in the industry goes without saying. We were lucky enough to get a few words with him at the Vans ‘Propeller’ video premier in London earlier on this year. Not only was meeting him a blessing in itself but also a wonderful opportunity to hear such a seasoned veteran’s perspectives on the world of skateboarding as we know it. As one of the company’s most integral ambassadors and contributors, there are few that can give such an in-depth insight into how Vans has become the global powerhouse it is today. This is the Steve Caballero interview.


When we spoke to Ray Barbee last year he was telling us what it’s been like witnessing the growth of Element since he got on. We were wondering how its been for you after 27 years on Vans?

Wow… Man I’ve seen a lot of changes with that company. Gone through about 4 or 5 CEO’s, about 10 team managers, tons of designers. But one thing that remains the same is Steve Van Doren and his daughter Krissi. They’ve always been there promoting and supporting. I’ve seen a lot of team riders come and go as well. Nonetheless, it’s a great relationship that we’ve built… It’s got a solid foundation and it’s one of those relationships that’s gonna last a long time you know? Relationships are hard either way, there are good and bad points throughout them. But if you stick through the bad times and make it through, you build a more solid foundation and something you can be proud of having integrity and pride behind. I guess its been tough over the years but because of the hard work from both sides, like supporting each other to get through the tough times in the company; we’ve built a pretty good legacy. It’s been pretty amazing and it’s cool to say that I still ride for vans after all these years.

 Alongside Vans, skateboarding has grown and changed a lot over the years too. How do you feel about all that?

Skateboarding has changed a lot man… I started from the beginning pretty much. I went from riding little plastic skateboards that you buy at a sporting goods store to getting my first board that had urethane wheels and ball bearings that weren’t sealed so they’d fall out if your nut wasn’t tightened.. Different types and shapes; from skinny boards to 10 inch wide boards back to skinnier boards. From the birth of skate parks, from growing up skating pools and cement parks that were privately owned to them being gone; then on to back yard ramps.. DIY skating everything, ditches, curbs, then to the 80’s where vert ramps were a big thing and competitions were coming in. Major blow out as far as how big skateboarding got in the 80’s to it dying in the 90’s, then going underground moving into street skating and then back in to bowls and ramps.

Parks are coming back you know? They’re built all over the world now. So I think right now skateboarding is at a really good state. I think it’s the best time to be in skateboarding because it’s well received everywhere and every style is accepted as well. So I think people are having a great time with it. I would say right now being a skateboarder to me is amazing. I can come to London and come into a building that has a killer bowl in it, its pretty amazing. Then fly over to France and there’s another one. Then to Germany; now we’re off to New York and they have a bowl inside their building. There are skateparks all over the US. I was born and raised in Northen California and I’ve just moved to Southern California.. Where I live is the mecca of skateboarding. Within a twenty mile radius there’s 7 vert ramps, about 4 or 5 parks and some of them are privately owned. There are about 3 that are indoors. It’s pretty amazing where I live; all the pros live there. I have to turn down sessions you know? It’s crazy! I’ll get a call from Bucky Lasek like “ Hey come skate my bowl!” and I’m like “nah I’m gonna go skate with Pierre-Luc at the DC ramp. I’ll get a call from Neal Hendrix like, “Hey we’re gonna skate Hawk’s ramp”. It’s pretty cool!

We also talked to Ray about the comings and going of trends in skateboarding. With your shoe standing the test of time after over 22 years, what do you think it takes to keep something like that alive for so long?

Well first off I think you have to have a good design. Also, you have to have a great company to back it as well. Vans has that whole package deal behind it and the whole history behind it that has made the half cab become an icon within our sport and within our industry. It’s prevalent outside our industry as well as it transcends to other creative outlets like music, or art. Vans is a great company because they’re a lifestyle brand, so whatever you’re in to they back it. Whether it’s mountain biking, bmx, surfing, snowboarding, motocross. Everyone wears shoes you know? Vans back people’s passions.

If you have a passion for something, Vans will back it and I think because of that and because of what we’ve created or what I’ve created in my career; as well as being one of the very first skateboarders to have a shoe, and going with the flow of things you know. The half cab kind of presented itself. My shoe came out in 1989 and it was a full size high top. By three years later street skating started coming in and vert started going out so a lot of the guys were demanding a lower top shoe and they just took my shoe and cut it down. I saw that and started doing it myself, so I started following that trend and after the third pair I was like, “there’s gotta be a better way”. So I just called up Vans like “ Hey, lets make the shoe the way people are wearing it and call it the half cab, because we’re all cutting it in half. I’ll find a logo that shows me doing one and call it the half cab”.

Because Vans trusted me, trusted my idea and went with it, I can sit here today and say I have a shoe that’s lasted over 22 years. We were talking about this the other day, Vans could have easily said “nah, not a great idea” but they trusted me and went with it, so here we are. I think they’re just as stoked as me! [Laughs]

Favourite colourway ever?

Wow.. I would have to say the pair that I did in 2012 for the 20-year anniversary. It was the red pair I did where I actually got to redraw the logo as well. I called it the ‘Cab Dragon’; I think that’s my favourite by far.

As you mentioned with the growth of skateboarding globally, the European scene has definitely come up, are there any Euro skaters or companies that you’re rooting for at the moment?

Oh man, Euro skaters? Well a lot of them are living in California now you know what I mean? There are a lot of guys that have come from Europe that have chased their skateboarding careers and now they are based in the US. I would have to say Sam Beckett for Vert, I think he’s doing quite well. As far as street skaters, I’m not really sure, a lot of guys are coming from Brazil that are killing it in the streets. I’m not sure, there’s too many! [Laughs]

There are a lot of new companies popping up on your side of the pond. What do you think of your teammates’ ventures, F.A, Hockey and Mother Collective (now Quasi) ?

Oh I don’t follow those. Are they clothing brands or are they board companies?

They’re board companies yeah…

Ah, to be honest I’m not really following the smaller brands, especially ones in Europe. If they’re not a hit in the US right now they’re probably not making an impact right? I’m sure I will hear about them. I think the brand that is making the biggest hit is Cliché as far as a European brand. As far as the smaller brands go I haven’t really heard of them.

As well as innovating a number of tricks in skateboarding yourself, you’re also an avid collector and established artist. What do you think it is that has pushed you to try your hand at so many things?

I think it’s because I’m very passionate about things and when I get into something I want to do the best job I can with it; so I try and research things. I’m the person who likes to make the least mistakes so what I’ll do is research, ask a lot of questions and watch things and study them before I try and attempt them. The sky is the limit when it comes to being creative and being able to express yourself in discovering what you’re capable of. A lot of people live in fear of what people think of them and what they’re doing.

I look at the world as a whole and think there are so many rad things about it and rad people so I always say I don’t believe in natural talent. I believe that everything we do takes a lot of blood sweat and tears and hard work and dedication and if you put your mind to anything you can do it; so that’s why I like to dip into different things.

I’ll look at something and say “why is that person like that” or “what’s so great about that?” Then I’ll research it and be like, “woah this is fun, how can I excel in it? How can I be good at it?” That’s what I like about those kinds of things. So obviously everyone loves art, everyone loves music, but I also like things that are dangerous. Skateboarding is one of the number one dangerous activities. But then I’ll step it even further and I’m also into motocross. That’s even gnarlier because you go bigger and faster. Those activities have their cool factors as well. I’ll drive around in my truck with my dirt bike in the back; I know that it takes a lot of courage to ride one of those things because it’s no joke. Things can go bad really fast and I’ve gotten hurt.. I’ve got broken off, but if you can excel in something like that people respect you and admire it; that’s what I wanna do.

Even at my old age of 50, I wanna let people know that you know what? You can still feel and act young; age is just a number. You can still do these things if you have a passion for them. I’m trying to inspire and encourage others not to give up on things just because they got a little grey hair and a couple wrinkles. I’m 50, some people are 30 like, “ah I’m over the hill; I can’t do this anymore”. I used to do this when I was 12 or 13 and they see me doing it now; that kind of encourages them like, “ah man Cabs still doing it, I’m gonna give it a hit!” Then they think, “ouch my back!” [laughs].

I think with anything, if we stay healthy, have a good positive outlook on life and stay away from things that are going to hinder you from your performance, you’re going to last a long time.

Your loyalty to the companies you ride for is something that I guess isn’t quite as common in skateboarding today. Do you think that’s it’s just an inevitable part of skateboarding growing?

I think it really depends on your personality. I know that integrity goes a long way. Loyalty goes a long way too and there’s always going to be problems. This world is all about relationships and how we interact with people, I’ve had many relationships on and off the board, I’ve been in bands where you have 5 people and if you have 5 people in your band there’s 5 different relationships going on and its difficult man. It’s difficult dealing with people because we all have different attitudes, different personalities, different opinions and it’s hard when they don’t all mesh together. But like I said, with Vans and Powell Peralta I can say that I’ve held it down as the longest rider for both those companies. For any company, shoe or board brand, I think that says a lot about my personality and who I am. I think that when people see that, maybe their attitude will change as far as “how does he do that? What makes him tick? How has he lasted that long at that company?”

Here’s my chance to be interviewed by you guys and say you know what? It’s hard. There’s gonna be good times and bad times, but the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It’s all about sticking together and working things out. If you’ve got problems you can work these differences out, and if you’re about to do that you can build a relationship that lasts longer than just a few years.

With the ever-growing popularity of skateboarding we’re seeing a lot more corporate involvement these days. Do you think that’s a good thing?

I think any kind of promotion is great for skateboarding because what they are doing is helping to get the word out there; and the word is ‘skateboarding’. If there’s any company that wants to put money into that then more power to them. If they leave then nice knowing you… They help skateboarding grow, and that’s why I’ve always supported the X games. I’ve always supported brands that perhaps may look like they are trying to use skateboarding to make money, but they’re also giving money to the industry you know? They aren’t just sucking money out. Skateboarding will be here whether they’re here or not, nobody controls the sport. Skateboarding will go where it wants to go and when you have money floating around it helps build things like this (House of Vans), so corporate involvement is important. There are certain brands I won’t support because it goes against what I believe, that’s where integrity goes in. I’m not gonna take money from a company that I don’t believe in because then I’m a sell out and that’s not who I am. I support brands that support me but I have to be in to what they believe in.

At 50 years old after a long career in skateboarding, what’s next for Steve Caballero?

Ah shoot I don’t know. I would say try and maintain a good healthy lifestyle and take care of my kids. Build a foundation for them; something that they can fall back on as well and inspire them to carry on the legacy that I have built within the industry. I want to encourage them to follow their dreams, their passions and just try and stay as positive as I can in dark times.

You can now buy Vans ‘Propeller’, directed by Greg Hunt, to watch in full over on iTunes


Words: James P.Lees

Images: Kieran Sills


Club Copson


The first real interaction I had with COPSON came when they released the ‘Resort Cap’ back in December of last year. In the middle of one of the coldest months, they had channeled their signature warm weather vibes and dropped a holiday resort inspired snapback bearing the words ‘Club Copson’ in a red, 70’s inspired type. Unfortunately for me, I had seen the cap a little too late and despite my efforts, I wasn’t able to get my hands on one. Although my search for the hat was fruitless, through it I had found out a little bit more on the London based brand and I was really impressed by what I found. I could relate with the lifestyle they were pushing, and with influences in skate to the classic Italian poolside feels, for me it ticked all the boxes. It was a lot more than just simple graphic t-shirts too, there was a lot of consideration in their design from colour to fit – even their visuals were strong.

The last year or so since starting By The Level I’ve been left a little uninspired by whats on offer in the UK market, and despite some of the great brands out there, there weren’t many who were really standing out and giving something different. For me COPSON are one of the select few that are setting themselves apart from the pack. A lot of effort goes into ensuring quality throughout their collections, but the general vibe I get is that everything they put out comes natural to the team behind the brand and because of that it feels authentic.

Their latest collection for Spring/Summer 2015 dubbed ‘Saverio Dream’ was a personal favourite release from last season and it pushed me to reach out to Maria Falbo, COPSON’s founder, to find out a bit more on the collection and the brand in general. Bringing COPSON into a familiar Brighton environment was the aim for the short editorial we put together (above) and we were also lucky enough to share some words with Maria on building the brand, inspirations and plans for the future….


How did COPSON get started? Where did the idea come from?

It was initially a blogspot to host my creative influences whilst living in Barcelona. Daily inspiration came fromm skateboarding, music and classic style references. It all started with Pet Shop Boys – Domino Dancing.

Is there a story behind the name?

We lived on COPSON STREET at Uni in Manchester.

The brand has developed a lot over the last 6 years. What would you say has been the most pivotal moment for COPSON in getting to where it is today?

A constant dedication to the COPSON lifestyle, and lots of learning along the way. I wouldn’t say there is one moment – but more of a case of building blocks and progression.

 There is limited choice in the market in terms of UK, and in particular London brands, who are really standing out. As a brand that has managed to set itself apart, what have been the main barriers in building COPSON out of London?

We currently manufacture in London so price is a barrier for sure. We’re dedicated to keeping production in Europe though – especially as we grow. The general cost of being creative in London is the trickiest carrier to overcome I would say. A lack of sunshine for daily inspiration too of course.

COPSON encompasses a lot more than just clothing, with editorial content, events and music all under the brands umbrella. How would you personally describe COPSON?

It has always been a creative concept inspired by lazy sunshine days and the good life. We‘ve never had a business plan or set any rules, but have just developed along the way. Designing clothing has always been an interest so we just went for it. It’s constantly creating a world we want to live in ourselves, clothes we want to wear, music we want to listen to on holiday….


Could you talk us through the latest collection? What was the inspiration?

The pieces are always inspired by classic Italian Riviera style, with a touch of pastel. We want to create leisurewear that people can wear everyday, and offer something special to our consumer. ‘Streetwear’ is so boring – its fun to break the rules a little.

The visuals are some of the strongest we have seen from any brand this season. What inspired the ‘A Young Summers Heart’ video?

Once again… we’re so bored of all the generic lookbooks up on Hypebeast. The word ‘brand content’ is so saturated. My family are from Calabria, Italy where we shot the video – and I would say much of my inspiration for COPSON is rooted there. I’ve always had a passion to bring skateboarding there – in a very chill way and create something truly special – content that makes a difference. I had been interested in working with friend and Director, Romano Pizzichini, for a while. After a few Negronis ( of course) we were like ‘fuck it’ – lets just take Vilads – COPSON poster boy to Italy, and film something truly epic. It was shot in and around my grandmas house.

A Young Summers Heart allowed us to stand apart from being another ‘ streetwear brand’ or lo-fi skate brand, and create something true to COPSON that represented our lifestyle – once again with no rules…I’m glad you liked it!

You worked with UK artist Jamie Humphrey on the designs for the printed shirts. How did that come about?

I skate with Jamie in London– he’s a friend of mine. His liberal mind, and pastel saturated artworks have always caught my eye. I wanted to work with him, and it clicked – lets put them on the cocktail shirts. We printed our own cotton poplin from Jamie’s work.

With your own history in skateboarding there is a natural skate sensibility to COPSON. Would you like to develop this aspect of the brand or remain more fashion focused?

Whatever – again no rules – skateboarding has been a massive part of my life growing up so it will always be an influence. It is just one aspect out of many that make up the COPSON lifestyle. The most important thing is to remain authentic.

 Having worked on collaborative projects in the past, are there any other brands that you would like to work with moving forward?

There are many – not fashion – but sadly can’t list any for now.

What’s next for COPSON? 

More sunshine.









Words: Kieran Sills

Images: Lily Brown 

Sage Elsesser Interview

Sage Elsesser – Interview

In July we had the pleasure of meeting some of the most renowned riders in the world during the London stop of Converse’s ‘One Star’ world tour. Not only did we see some mind-blowing skateboarding but also had the opportunity to have a chat with one of the most talked about young faces in skateboarding today, Sage Elsesser. When you’re one of the kids at the forefront Supreme’s ‘cherry’, there’s no doubt that you’re going to amass quite a fan base around the world. On the flipside of things, ‘cherry’ has had its fair share of scrutiny since its release and it was clear from the get-go that Sage had a pretty hard exterior. Nonetheless, after getting down to talking we had a great conversation with him and his friend Elliot that we’re happy to finally share. This is the Sage Elsesser interview.

Sage Elsesser Interview

There’s a lot of footage of you skating in NYC. How does skating in London compare?

Yeah I think it’s sick. I like the Palace shit, it’s real cool.

You and Sean [Pablo] seem pretty tight. Is he your go-to guy on trips like this?

[Laughs] No homo but yeah we sleep in the same bed.

As one of the most familiar faces in ‘cherry’ you’ve no doubt noticed all the kids playing dress-up. What do you think about all that?

It’s like a cool form of flattery. It’s sick but it’s cool to do your own shit… But then again imitating people – it’s what you’re supposed to do with the people you look up to. I dressed up like Dill you know what I mean? It’s kind of crazy though when they don’t know how to kickflip. I went to Southbank and saw like ten kids just all posted; FA, Supreme all that shit.. They were all just doing bonelesses on the bank but couldn’t really skate. I dunno, you’ve gotta learn the basics first. Don’t start no complying all over the place.

How about all the people biting it that don’t skate at all? You think the video has had anything to do with skateboarding being as popular as it is right now?

Yeah I think as far as Supreme’s concerned people just fuck with us because we make it look sick I guess; at least opposed to hypebeast kids wearing leather pants and shit. It shows a different side of it.

Sage Elsesser Interview

What’s it like riding for a big company like Converse?

It’s sick but at the same time it’s pretty hectic.

Yeah, it’s pretty crazy they’re flying you around the world for the sake of a shoe.

I guess you’ve got to understand the business side of it. They’re just doing what they’ve got to do.

What would your go-to shoe usually be?

I’d probably be wearing Chuck Taylors or something like that.

Do all the kids biting the ‘cherry’ thing ever make you think twice before putting on a pair?

Yes. I’ve definitely thought, “damn I’ve gotta think of a new shoe to skate”, but then again it doesn’t matter… I wear chucks because my friend Logan wore Chuck Taylors back in the day. This dude Logan started everything that you see now: Rails, colours, Dickies pants – he did all that first. Nobody was fuckin’ with that, then the whole grip tape art thing came about… it was all one dude.

If you look at old footage you’ll see Steve Cab back in the day, everybody wore them. It’s a classic shoe.

Do you ever feel those eyes on you? Like “here’s another dude in Chucks and Dickies skating around”.

Yeah it’s crazy. The thing I hate most is people thinking I’m white or something. They try to say I’m whitewashed or some shit like that when really it’s not the case. I’ve seen someone say like, “white kids always have a different section to the black kids in Supreme videos”. Just let a nigga put on some fuckin’ clothes; it doesn’t really matter at all. Really wanna know why my pants are so high? My Grandpa told me gentlemen’s pants are never supposed to touch their shoes. That’s some black people shit. I’ve been running these; I’m not about to let other people fuck it up for me. It’s what I like to skate.

Sage Elsesser Interview

Who’s been skating hardest on the trip?

Probably Louis Lopez, He’s the best skateboarder ever. Tom Remillard’s always ripping too

Who’s been drinking hardest on the trip?

Think Benny got pretty smashed last night


Yeah he reeks of alcohol right now [Laughs].

Your boys Nakel and Kevin have just gone pro for FA. See yourself joining them any time soon?

Fuck, hopefully. I don’t know [laughs], shit!

Elliot: It’s long overdue! You just impossible grinded a table!

You got any passions of your own outside of skating?

Yeah I paint

You’ve recently finished school right? Have you made the decision to go to college or are you putting your faith in skating?

I’m going to college. I got a scholarship to Pratt in New York.

Well congratulations on that. You got any projects in the pipeline at the moment you can tell us about?

If my friend Logan leaves Malibu and skates then hopefully his video…That would be the sickest thing ever.

Finally, are there any other independent companies you’re backing at the moment?

Honestly fuck everything else if it’s not FA. That’s for real…


Head to for more on the One Star World Tour


Words: James P.Lees

Imagery: Lily Brown