Lucien Clarke Interview

Get to know global skate star and all round nice guy, Lucien Clarke, the latest face of SUPRA.

This was first published in Wonderland Magazine.

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(c) Jordan Conroy

In a typically sterile hotel room, I meet Lucien Clarke. It’s not an environment you’ll usually find the professional skateboarder in, but as he’s come to the forefront of the British skate scene, as everyone wants to find out more about him, it’s one he’s grown to know. One of his sponsors, the global skate brand SUPRA, are re-launching their best-selling style; the ‘Hammer Run’ with the introduction of new innovative fabrications, bold seasonal colour ways, and a brand new silhouette Inspired by the skate teams’ ‘always-on-the-run lifestyle’, the collection offers premium lightweight footwear ideal for people on the go. This season, Lucien’s the face of the brand.

As clinical as the setting might be, Lucien’s eager to talk openly and extensively about his time with cult skate brands across the globe. The kind kids in every major city queue up round the block for every time there’s a drop, myself included. I sit down with Lucien to speak being the latest face of SUPRA, the evolution of skating into a big bucks business and narrow misses on street fights with gangs in LA.

 

Let’s start by talking about the new stuff over at SUPRA

Yeah! The shoe, you can skate [in it] but it’s a thinner sole, more flexible.

 

So it’s not actually designed for skating?

It’s not no, even the material’s different, it’s just to kick it in.

 

Different to your previous collaboration with SUPRA then?

Yeah that was way different, that was with all my mates and with their photographs put together. We launched it here and in Barcelona and in Paris so it was more of a trip.

 

Does this tie in with the SUPRA dispatched series you were doing where you were in Paris?

No that was separate, that video, it was good wasn’t it? I spoke to a lot of people like Lev [Tanju, founder of Palace] and all the old people that used to skate at Southbank.

 

You’ve been working with SUPRA continuously, that must be ideal for you? Especially because they’re such an influence…

Yeah definitely, since I’ve been skating for them they’ve just been a hype for me, I’ve been excited about most of the things they do.

 

So what do you think of shoe sponsorships now, do you think they’ve become more prominent in recent years and if so, why do you think that happened?

It’s always been important I think.

 

Do you reckon? Because I feel like like a few years ago, you had to have a deck to be someone but nowadays a lot of people have decks and shoes are more in focus.

Yeah, you’re right. I suppose you’re right that some people push footwear. I suppose it works hand in hand, if you have a good board sponsor then a good shoe sponsor will pick you up straight away. Or, if you have a good shoe sponsor and they’re pushing you out properly, if they’re giving you ads or taking you around the world skating, giving you loads of like shining edits, a board company will be like ‘Oh, he’s banging!’ I think it’s just hand in hand.

 

So, you’re sponsored by Supreme and Palace as well, Palace just dropped their SS16 collection which had a crazy hype, I saw a video of the queue and it was a mile down the road!

Yeah! It’s actually mad, I didn’t go because I just knew it was gonna be hectic so I just saw some photos and shit.

 

Palace has been blowing up for a while but this last year it’s just sky rocketed, do you think that there’s anything specific that’s got it up there?

I don’t know man, we’re just making good clothes and like putting out good shit, like skate-wise and just doing everything to what we want it to be.

 

What do you think of the comparisons, when people say, ‘Palace is the next Supreme?’

I can see that from people that don’t really know shit but, if you really do know where we’ve come from it’s quite different. I mean, they have come from America and we’re English.

 

You were like one of the first people in the UK to be on Supreme right?

Yeah, yeah they asked me to do their lookbook time ago. That was like 6 years ago but it’s always a good friendship between both brands.

 

Is there any news about any upcoming Palace videos? People have been waiting a while for a London video…

Yeah, yeah well that’s gonna be the full video, all of its gonna be London…

 

What about the footage from LA, a few clips have surfaced of the Palace team out there, can you tell me about that? Any crazy stories or memorable moments?

Yeah, both times we went to Venice Beach it was madness, there’s always shit popping off. The first time we went these Mexican gang bangers, well, banged on us pretty much. We were looking for a skate spot and these lot come out and are like ‘Hey man, where you from?’ [Danny] Brady was like ‘Yeah we’re alright, we’re from London!’ We thought they were just hyped about skating… all of a sudden they were like, ‘You better get the fuck outta here man!’ They all just jump out with fucking bottles and start clinking them together, two of them pulled out guns and we’re all like, ‘Woah! Alright, fucking hell!’ Me and Jamal were a bit further down so we just kept walking and praying that nothing would really happen, ‘cos we just thought if we walk back they’re just gonna think we’re trying to creep up on them. They were terrorising the van, kicking it and spitting it and shit and were like, ‘If we ever see you again we’ll fucking kill you!’ This is in a nice posh area in Venice, coffee shops and kids everywhere, it was fucking crazy man.

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(c) Jordan Conroy

 

So LA was eventful then! Speaking of America, you used to live in New York, right?

Yeah well, I lived from the age of 6 ’til about 11, then I came here, I never skated there.

 

 

Did you ever have any regrets about not picking up skateboarding earlier because you’d missed out on a lot of classic New York spots?

Yeah. When I started skating, after about a year, I just figured out all of the skating and history with New York with Brooklyn Banks and all of the favourites that I’ve learnt to love… I have family and friends there so I visit occasionally.

 

In your episode of Through the Eyes of with Sidewalk magazine, there’s a clip of you watching the Baker 2 video, what is it like now skating on the same team as people who were in that video? Like Ellington and Lizard King?

Yeah! I was tripping at first…

 

A lot of pros have stories how they couldn’t land any tricks when they skated in front of their idols for the first time, did you have any problems?

I wasn’t that much of a bitch! But I was definitely prang, the first time actually meeting Eric Ellington, I’d just got on Supra, so it was my opportunity to be like, ‘Safe, I can skate,’ or whatever, ‘I’m not a fucking weirdo!’

 

What do you think about the skate scene in London at the moment?

It’s stronger than it was before… everything was kinda dying at one point.

 

Do you think that the rise in popularity of skateboarding within mass culture has done something for that? Nowadays music and fashion, it’s all involved isn’t it? Like people are doing like catwalk shows at skate parks…

Yeah it’s just brutal man, I dunno like all of that kind of side of things is fucked isn’t it?

 

There’s a certain mentality with a few guys in the skate scene that believe that people who dont skate should stay away from the clothes and culture, do you agree?

Nah man, you should wear what you want, I mean what’s ‘skate clothes’? I don’t know, you just piece something together. Everyone has their own style, so I don’t really agree with that. Probably they’re just mad ‘cos they see a celebrity in Palace and be like, ‘Oh well they don’t even skate!’ I’m like, ‘It’s Rihanna she’s wearing a fucking Palace t-shirt!’

 

Like that picture of like Jay Z in the Palace Coach Jacket, that’s crazy…

Yeah! He’s supporting the gang!

 

You’re very well-travelled, what are your favourite cities to visit whether it be for a skate trip or just a holiday?

Paris definitely, I like Barcelona quite a lot… I like LA and New York but I can’t drive yet so it’s not as fun as I think it will be, but it will be fun once I can drive…

 

Are you learning to drive?

Yeah soon man, I think you need to in LA because it’s just fun. We just got back from LA in January and my friend Stuart hired a Mustang, a red massive convertible and we were just driving around and playing fucking Tory Lanez. Driving from Hollywood to Venice every morning, it was just the best and we were just having such a good time.

 

 

In a previous interview, you mentioned that you started skating when you were 14 and your stepdad bought your first deck, can you remember what the set up was?

Yeah it was a Flame Boy and Wet Willie one and it had like thunder trucks and spitfires, I had just got to know him so he was gassing me up and sweetening me up with a board!

 

How long did that board last you?

For ages, but it went down, the nose went down to the bolts pretty much. I was skating in sandals for ages!

 

Skating in sandals? You’re mad. What spots did you go to when you first started skating?

Albert Memorial, it used to be a proper community. Loads of people used to work at the skate shop down the road where I bought my first deck and there were a couple of skate shops around Hyde Park so after we’d finish work, we’d just meet up and go there. Do you remember Side? Side skate shop? I was just skating there then I moved on to Vicky benches which is just round the corner from me as well. Then I started going to Shell Centre and Southbank without my Mum knowing, she wouldn’t let me go further than a couple of blocks so I just snuck off and went there.

 

Was that around the time you started meeting the people who you skate with now?

Yeah, I mean I met Rory Milanes at Southbank and I pretty much met everyone at Southbank. Greg Finch had a skate shop around the corner of Southbank and everyone would just go there.

 

When did it transition from a group of mates to actually deciding to create Palace?

I guess Lev had it in his head that he wanted to do something, at first he was making shirts, some rip off Versace ones and then he made a couple others and I’d never seen anything like it… He was DJing at Vogue parties and other random events and so people would see it out. Everything else just followed.

 

It seems like a very chill environment in the Palace shop…

Yeah we all just go there after work and hang out.

 

Does your lifestyle ever feel like work?

No, never! It’s not work, is it? I’m just lucky enough to skate with my mates and have a good time.

 

SUPRA’s casual running collection is available from JD Sports, ASOS and Slam City Skates as well as other select retailers, SUPRA stores and www.suprafootwear.com

Watch Virgil Abloh lecture on Off-White, creativity & more

The creative polymath gave a lecture at New York’s Columbia University in early 2017. Here’s why it’s important.

Virgil Abloh, the Off-White founder and Kanye West collaborator recently presented a lecture ‘Everything in Quotes’, held at Columbia University. Introduced as “the leading voice of now” and “the ultimate multi-hyphenate” he spoke as part of the university’s architecture program which is assisted by professor Michael Rock, an old university consociate of Ablohs. The two had previously worked together on the spaces for Kanye’s second fashion show in Paris, Cannes film festival and at the launch of Yeezy. Native to and still currently based out of Chicago, Abloh received an undergraduate degree in civil engineering at the University of Madison and a masters in architecture from the Illinois institute of technology.

Off-White has become one of the most talked-about brands in fashion in the past year or so, a lavishly produced and priced streetwear brand sold at Barneys, Selfridges, Bergdorf Goodman, and Colette, as well as four Off-White boutiques, located in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Singapore with plans for a New York boutique in the pipeline. Grouped with a newer breed of labels like Hood by Air and Vetements, that claim their power in the digital consumer marketplace by keeping the undivided attention of those millennials that can fathom the idea of spending $573 on a hoodie.

Throughout the lecture he touches upon his time at university, working through becoming a creator, the birth of Off-White, the Yeezus cover artwork and using humour, irony and abstraction in his work. He asserts that “humour is an entry point for humanity,” something that’s essential for modern ideas to work in a creative space. Detailing how he was classically trained in school to be “this or that”, pointing to a presentation slide that says “Black. Grey. White”, he says that “grey doesn’t define the middle of those two things”.

“At all times, every Instagram post, every invite and a flyer, every store that I open is juxtaposing two things – either something dissimilar or something very much alike,” says Abloh. He creates “not the absolute of two things, but the in between.”

Watch the full talk below.