by Sasha Barkans
Oakley is a relatively new player in the skateboard scene, but they seem to be on a mission to let the skateboard world know that they’re here to stay. Their pro skate roster boasts some of the biggest names in skateboarding—including the likes of Eric Koston, Ryan Sheckler and Bob Burnquist—and in late April, the brand launched the Oakley in Residence series, with a kick-off in Los Angeles. The creative pop-up installation celebrates the history of skateboarding in LA.
While modern media has ushered in the decentralization of skateboarding, California remains not only the birthplace of skating, but also its cultural epicenter—with Los Angeles as the unofficial skateboard capital. Oakley took to Melrose and Fairfax, an area of LA that is renowned to those readers immersed in skate culture, in an effort to give back to the skate community. The building has been converted into a creative space co-curated by the Girl Skateboard Company’s The Art Dump, professional skateboarder Eric Koston and skate photographer Atiba Jefferson. That triangle of inspiration and intangibles certainly shows: The space features meticulously curated artwork from Art Dump, as well as a studio space for workshops led by Atiba Jefferson and Crailtap’s Andy Jenkins. The exterior space features an original mural gazing over a pop-up skatepark which houses a mini-ramp, ledges, quarters and an iconic LA elementary school picnic table—a feature that many skateboarders associate with their favorite video parts.
The original art that adorns the walls ties the entire endeavor together as Art Dump designed one-off Girl collaboration decks and flags for eight legendary LA skate spots including Hollywood High, Wilshire, and the Santa Monica triple-set. While certainly nurturing the core skateboard community, the space flawlessly blends skateboarding and visual art so creatives outside of the skate bubble will certainly feel at home interacting with the space.
It’s not about product, it’s about giving kids a place to skate and be inspired.
“It’s creative. It’s the right thing to give to kids. It’s not about product, it’s about giving kids a place to skate and be inspired,” Jefferson tells CH. Scanning the gallery, it’s hard to argue with his words; the infamous Oakley logo can be sparsely seen, and the building displays minimal products.
Koston says, “What’s cool about Oakley In Residence, is that it encompasses skateboarding. Skateboarding obviously from Los Angeles, but beyond. It’s not just about gnarly skating, it’s about the fun of skating, the creativity of skating, just everything that goes into it—videography, print, graphic design. Everything that goes into our world is here. It’s what really makes skateboarding what it is.” Leaving the space and seeing the hordes of kids excitedly pushing around, his words seem to ring true.
This will be the first of three Oakley in Residence spaces that celebrate obsessions with sports and culture. Located at 7763 Melrose Ave, the LA space is open to the public now; the upcoming residences in London and New York later this summer will be open for more extended periods of time.
Images by Sasha Barkans