Baker Skateboards was founded in 2000 by Andrew Reynolds, professional skater and one of the pioneers of the industry. The order for this list is relatively fluid, but there is a reason I put Baker Skateboards as number one. If somebody knows nothing about skating, they have probably still seen the trademark deck by Baker (shown below) one way or another. Baker is one of the quintessential skate brands of today and the modern era as the video parts they have made have been prolific and very popular. In fact, they were one of the brands that was making video parts when it was just starting to be popularized. They sell skate decks, the trademark product of Baker, and all sorts of apparel and accessories. Notable among pros that skate for Baker, besides Reynolds, are Kader Sylla, Sammy Baca, and Riley Hawk, son of Tony Hawk. Bottom line, Baker is one of the brands that has defined skating in the current era.
Anti Hero was established in 1995 by professional skater, Julien Stranger. They sell customary skate brand apparel but what they are known for is their decks. The famous "Eagles" deck (shown below) is one of the most popular decks among skaters today and has been for a while. Much like Baker Skateboards, Anti Hero was starting to gain some traction when video parts were getting popularized. At the time of Anti Hero's come-up, the skating scene was getting somewhat mundane and static, but it was the rebellious and barrier-breaking video parts of brands like Anti Hero and Baker that set the precedent for the stylistic future of the world of skating for the next 20 years. Prominent professional skaters that ride for Anti Hero include Grant Taylor, Chris Pfanner, Brian Anderson, and Daan Van Der Linden, among them.
Independent Truck Company, or "Indy" as it is called, was founded in 1978, in one of the meccas of skating, Santa Cruz, California. At the time, skating was not a super big industry yet. Skateboarding did not have the video parts and all the other types of media where one can post their skating to put themselves out there. It was a niche hobby that was not that popular yet and lacking a good, sturdy, long-lasting truck company. Indy was not started by any big name skaters like Baker was, but the product speaks for itself as it has been consensus one of the best trucks on the market, along with Thunder Trucks to name a competitor. As far as the act of skating, Indy only sells trucks and hardware, but they sell apparel and accessories as well. Like Spalding to basketball or Adidas to soccer, Independent Truck Company has worked its way to being a big time company which, widely used by skaters everywhere.
Very much like Independent Truck Company, Thunder Trucks is one of the leading truck companies on the market and has been since its founding in 1986. It, along with Baker and Anti Hero has taken advantage of the media 'revolution' to put more content out and consequently get more recognition. Notable pros that are sponsored by Thunder are Ishod Wair, Mark Suciu, Shane O'Neill, Jamie Foy, and Sean Malto, just to name a few. In recent years, parallel to Indy, Thunder has come to be one of the most prevalent truck companies because of the durability of the product. The extent of products that Thunder sells is small as they produce a minimal amount of apparel and a whole lot of trucks. Much like any brand on this list, if one is at least somewhat familiar with skating, they know about Thunder Trucks.
Shake Junt was founded in the mid 2000s by Shane Heyl as a normal skate and apparel company. To this day they sell everything pertaining to a skateboard including grip tape, bearings, hardware and decks as well as apparel. Shake Junt has begun to break out as one of the top skate companies right now. Contributing to this boom of the company is definitely the rise in prevalence of video parts as the world has transitioned from residing in real life to the internet. Another part of this is that Shake Junt has a very recognizable and defining grip tape on the market (shown below). At least one skater at every skate park has this grip tape (minimum: 10 people at the park). Important pros that ride for Shake Junt include legendary Andrew Reynolds, Kader Sylla, and Neen Williams, just to name a few.
Real Skateboards was made official in 1991. Unlike Baker or Anti Hero, Real was not jump started by a famous skater. It did not have the mass appeal that some of these brands have solely based on the notoriety of the founder. It was not started by a legend like Andrew Reynolds, so instead the company grinded it out and just made a great product. They sell apparel like many brands today, but Real is mostly known for its extensive sales of decks. Back in 1991, the world of skating looked a lot different, and there was not a sufficient saturation of boards on the market. Real took advantage of this and started selling a board of great quality and longevity. Fast forward to a time when the landscape of skating is vastly different than when the company was established, and Real is one of the most well-known skate companies with quality products and skaters on their team, including Ishod Wair and Kyle Walker to name a few.
Need I say much about Vans? To start, everybody has at least one pair of Vans. Vans sells many items pertaining to all sorts of boardsports, but has a main emphasis on skating. They sell a plethora of different shoe styles, clothes, accessories, skate boards, and more. They had humble beginnings like other pioneer brands, such as Baker and Real, as it got established in 1996 during the turning point for the world of skating. Vans was founded in Santa Ana, CA, close to a significant place in the skating world, so there is no question of authenticity. Vans has a skate team consisting of names like Ben Kadow, Dustin Henry, and Chris Pfanner, to name a few. Vans has been largely instrumental in the globalization of skating putting out many video parts and helping construct multiple skate parks as well.
Much like Vans, nowadays, Thrasher is one of those companies that is known by everybody, avid skater or not. People wear Thrasher hoodies these days like it is going out of style. It started off as a skate magazine in 1981 out of San Francisco, CA, another one of the meccas of the skate world, another authenticity unquestionable. In the past 10 years, Thrasher has really accentuated its influence with a vast number of not just video parts, but all sorts of video content on YouTube. Thrasher's influence has gone so far as to be in skate video games. They have helped numerous new skaters get the exposure they deserve and progress their career, cementing its place in the top skating brands. Having a Thrasher hoodie nowadays is very common now. People who do not at all skate and have been exposed to the sport in one way or another probably got exposed to it by Thrasher and it is this notoriety that earns Thrasher a spot on this list..
Mob is another company, like Independent and Thunder, that is characterized by its astounding product, filling the absence of a product equivalent at the time. Mob is owned by the same distribution company as Independent, so as one can imagine, it was born in the skating mecca of Santa Cruz, CA so it has OG roots. At the time, skaters were struggling with faulty grip tape that concealed flaws such as air bubbles in the grip. Mob has no pro skate team, but along with Baker and Real, it has been a prominent company for as long as people can remember, it has that classic brand feel. The thing that really secures Mob a spot in this list of top skate brands is their long-lasting grip tape. This has existed as the main grip tape people use in the skate world for a while now.
Spitfire was established in yet another authentically prominent skate location, San Francisco, CA in 1987. Spitfire is yet another company defined by its great product and for Spitfire, that is the wheels it produces. They do sell apparel and other skate hardware like bearings, but they do not sell boards. Chris Cole, Lizard King, and Eric Koston are among the many skaters who ride professionally for Spitfire. Like Thrasher and Vans, even if one does not know much about skating, they probably have at least seen the Spitfire logo (shown below). A big catapult for them into this list is that the company promotes the influence of skating to all ages. I remember going to Toys R Us as a kid and seeing a lot of Spitfire toys. This got me into skating at a young age and it is this type of relentless exposure that earns Spitfire a good spot on this top 10 skating brands list.