Top 6 Best Skateboard Brands
Skateboarding is a popular recreational sport practiced by thousands of people worldwide, combining exciting tricks and customizable boards with the simple joy of riding and being outdoors. A relatively recent sport by comparison to others, skateboarding has nonetheless embedded itself firmly in American culture as an expression of individuality and freedom, and these values are reflected in many of the popular companies and brand names that produce skateboards for the public. Below are the top six best skateboard brands, companies that have made a name for themselves in this popular and exciting sport.
What are the most popular skateboarding brands?
- Plan B
- Santa Cruz
- Alien Workshop
Though it is not a particularly old company, Element Skateboards has cemented itself as the most well-known and popular brand in skateboarding over only a few short decades. Founded in the early 1990s by Johnny Schillereff, a professional skateboarder, the Atlanta-based company was originally known as Underworld Element. In addition to their primary business of selling skateboards, Underworld Element had a philanthropic focus as well, working to elevate and improve urban culture through art, music, and other social projects. The company's initial popularity was disappointing, but after rebranding itself as Element Skateboards and increasing its focus on its skateboard business, popularity improved tremendously.
Element became known for its signature logo, a stylized symbol that incorporates all four Classical Elements: Wind, Water, Earth, and Fire. This symbol, along with the quality of Element's skateboards, has led the brand to become one of the most recognizable skateboard companies in the world. Today, Element remains an immensely-popular brand. Its influence has led it to sponsor many skateboarders, including athletes such as Nyjah Huston, Bam Margera, Mark Appleyard, Brandon Westgate, Ethan Loy, Jaakko Ojanen, Nick Garcia, and Tom Schaar, among many others. Element initially began by selling only skateboard decks but now sells almost the entire range of skateboarding products, including clothing and accessories.
Like Element Skateboards, Girl Skateboards was founded in the 1990s by professional skateboarders. First created in 1993, the company was pioneered in Torrance, California, by Rick Howard, Mike Carrol, Megan Baltimore, and Spike Jonze. The company's founders created Girl Skateboards based on a perceived lack of professional-quality skateboard decks sold in the industry. Therefore, initially, Girl Skateboards manufactured only skateboard decks, much like Element. However, with the popularity that followed, they too have expanded into selling various skateboarding accessories, including wheels, bearings, clothing, bags, and even media projects focused on skateboarding, such as films and documentaries.
Girl Skateboards achieved quick popularity when professional skateboarders recognized the quality of their products, which was much higher than most other skateboard manufacturers. In order to market themselves further, Girl began to sponsor pro skaters and even host pro skating events. These strategies grew their fanbase successfully, and today the company has expanded to include the Girl Distribution Network, which operates a variety of skateboarding brands, including Chocolate Skateboards, Royal Trucks, Lakai Footwear, and others, that operate all over the world. Today, professional skaters sponsored by Girl Skateboards include Brandon Biebel, Cory Kennedy, Mike Mo Capaldi, Mike Carroll, Rick Howard, Sean Malto, Guy Mariano, and many others.
3. Plan B
Founded in 1991, Plan B was created by Mike Ternasky, one of the two founders of H-Street Skateboards, which was created in 1987. Ternasky founded Plan B to provide skateboarders with a reasonable alternative to larger brands that were beginning to overwhelm the skateboarding business in the early 1990s. In the process, he assembled a large and talented team of skateboarding professionals. Among them were influential skateboarders like Pat Duffy and Rodney Mullen, who helped grow Plan B into a successful company. However, Plan B's rising fame was abruptly cut short in 1994, when Ternasky tragically lost his life in a car accident.
It seemed as though the company was destined to fade into obscurity for a time, and for a few years, its skateboards went out of production. However, in 2005, founding team members Danny Way and Colin McKay relaunched Plan B with a new team, focusing on keeping Ternasky's legacy alive. Their efforts were successful, and Plan B soon became a leading producer of skateboard decks, wheels, and clothing, operating out of Irvine, California. The Plan B team has also grown over the years, adding pro skateboarders such as Ryan Sheckler, PJ Ladd, Torey Pudwill, and Felipe Gustavo to its ranks. Plan B's marketing strategy is notable for its use of videos that show off groundbreaking skateboarding techniques. One of the company's first videos, Questionable (1992), is considered to be among the greatest skateboarding videos of all time.
4. Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz Skateboards, one of the older companies on this list, got its start in 1973 when a trio of surfer friends named Richard Novak, Doug Haut, and Jay Shuirman created a collaborative company which they named NHS Inc., after their three initials. NHS Inc. initially followed its founders' main interests by producing surfboards, but due to low margins, business was slow. However, the company got an unexpected kick when NHS received a challenge from one of its founders' friends, who owned a company in Hawaii. The friend challenges NHS to produce 500 skateboards, which NHS made using the excess fiberglass they had in stock from unfulfilled surfboard orders. The 500 "Santa Cruz Skateboards," produced in 1973, sold rapidly, and another order was quickly made. In a short time, the company quickly dominated the skateboarding industry, becoming a symbol of the skateboarding culture.
In 1974, the company gained additional fame by introducing the Road Rider Wheel, a new type of skateboard wheel to compete with previous metal and urethane wheels. The Road Rider Wheel revolutionized skateboarding by being the first wheel to use precision ball bearings. In time, Santa Cruz Skateboards continued to grow, becoming famous for its two logos, the Red Dot and the Screaming Hand. The company has sponsored hundreds of famous skateboarders and collaborated with dozens of famous brand names from other industries, including Marvel Comics, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob, the Simpsons, and Star Wars.
5. Alien Workshop
Alien Workshop, another 1990s company, was founded at the turn of the decade by Chris Carter, Mike Hill, and Jimmy George, who compiled an initial investment of $26,000 to kickstart their brand. Beginning in Dayton, Ohio, the company started small, producing skateboarding videos which featured pro skateboarders on their team, including Neil Blender and Steve Claar. In 1991, the company began working with P.S. Stix woodshop in Costa Mesa, California, to produce products, which began to be sold in the spring of 1992. Over the next few years, the company slowly moved to California to increase its presence there, and by the fall of 1994, Alien Workshop products were selling rapidly at trade shows.
The year 1995 was a huge boon for the company, as that year saw an unexpected infatuation with aliens, UFOs, and other such imagery develop across America. This led to Alien Workshop's patented brands selling in huge numbers and a record number of copyright infringements that the company had to deal with. By 1996, demand for Alien Workshop products had exceeded the company's ability to produce, requiring them to acquire more storage and production space. The company continued to grow but went through a number of changes in the late 2000s, being purchased by Burton Snowboards in 2008 and then purchased back by original Alien Workshop rider Rob Dyrdek in 2012. The brand was briefly closed in 2014, but reemerged in 2015, with its headquarters returned to Dayton, Ohio and a new team consisting of Joey Guevara, Yaje Popson, Frankie Spears, Max Garson, Brandon Nguyen, Paul Liliani and Sammy Montano.
One of the youngest companies on this list, Almost Skateboards was founded in 2003 by Rodney Mullen and Daewon Song. A collaborative enterprise, the company launched with a video entitled Almost: Round Three (2004). The company prided itself on focusing on the fun, exciting side of skateboarding, combining Mullen's technical knowledge of skateboard shapes and physics with Song's outward style and personality. In addition to the popularity of their videos, which have been released since 2004, Almost Skateboards became known for two aspects of their brand philosophy: first, their laid-back, joking approach, which mixes technical skating with more easygoing forms of the sport, like curb skating; and secondly, their experiments in skateboard technology, such as incorporating carbon fiber into their skateboards to reduce weight and increase strength and flexibility. Almost's current team consists of professional skateboarders Rodney Mullen, Cooper Wilt, Daewon Song, Christoph "Willow" Wildgrube, Youness Amrani, and amateur skateboarders Mitchie Brusco and Yuri Facchini.