Everybody knows there’s a ’90s revival going on in skateboarding. Kids who were born in the post-original-Plan B era are pining for a time when decks were big, wheels were small, and carrying a skateboard around would get you beat up, not laid. (Maybe not that last part. Maybe they just don’t know.) Fashionistas are dressing like Danny Tanner and Jerry Seinfeld under the guise of #normcore, and skaters are rushing to follow. Dad-hats and relaxed-fit jeans abound. Somewhere, some kid is filming tricks for his new clip, “White Tube Socks and Old Birkenstocks.”
It’s time to stop. We’ve taken this too far.
JNCO is mounting a comeback.
For you young kids who were born after I’d had my first beer, here’s some background: JNCOs were one of the darkest moments of the ’90s (Creed and Limp Bizkit included). They’re great if you want to look like a Midwestern Christian fundamentalist, a raver who can’t afford more zippers and straps, or someone who wears truly terrifying skate shoes.
They’re terrible if you want to look like a human being who can see their reflection in the mirror.
I know irony is all the rage these days (by “these days,” of course, I mean “forever, if you’re in the teens-to-mid-20s age range”), but this is going a step too far. Let me drop a little bit of history on you:
There was a time in the early ’90s when skateboarders dressed like total assholes. “Style” as a concept didn’t really exist for most kids on the street (your Gonzes and Rick Howards and Hensleys notwithstanding, obviously). Tricks weren’t popped and caught – they bounced around and hopefully landed with the griptape facing up. Luckily, we as a group progressed and moved on from that.
Jed Walters, a nobody from North Dakota, allegedly caught one of the first proper, popped kickflips in World Industries’ “Love Child.” Skinny white kids mostly stopped wearing 42” weird-colored jeans. Jason Lee happened. We moved from “I’m-wearing-the-rigging-from-a-19th-century-Spanish-galleon,” to regular-ass relaxed fit jeans, and the world was a better place.
But you know who didn’t move on? Brands like JNCO who kept making giant straight-legged pants with ridiculous embroidery on the back pockets. Middle schools and skateparks were full of posers and rollerbladers wearing jeans with, I shit you not, 40-50” leg openings, usually torn to shreds at the ankle because they don’t appear to be designed for the human body. (For comparison, a pair of standard Dickies 874s has a 16” leg opening. Let that sink in, 16″ versus 50″.) And they held on until well into the early 2000s, when kids who still had them would use them to hide and steal Krew jeans from the mall.
When varial flips were at their worst, it was because of the kid in JNCOs (“they’re easier than kickflips man,” which he couldn’t do). He was the kid who also rollerbladed and did primos and caspers in games of S-K-A-T-E. In high school, one of these kids told me JNCOs made skateboarding easier because they would act like parachutes and make landings a little less hard. This was said with a straight face, 100% sincere.
Obviously, that’s bullshit. Falling down hurts no matter how big your pants are, and taking a harsh slam in JNCOs literally adds insult to injury because you look like a fucking dork.
The only benefit JNCOs provide a skater is that you can hide from cops or security by standing next to some garbage – they’ll never see you! If there’s no garbage around, just climb into the denim cavern you’re wearing and pretend you’re homeless. You’re probably already hiding your weed in one of the many odd-sized pockets, so you can just chill a while until the coast is clear.
Look, I get why kids are dressing how they imagine dads dressed in the ’90s. Skateboarding turns into a fashion show every few years, and the late ’00s were especially bad. Simultaneously rejecting the tight jeans club and the 2fresh2furious crews probably felt pretty great at first. Outlet mall Nautica gear is cheap, Costco jeans are just as good as any other if you’re fine with the fit, and skate shoes have gotten less technical and more expensive all at once.
But look around: our irony isn’t a joke anymore, it’s a real thing. We’ve made our own fashion show. Congratulations. But let’s not let it get out of hand, like the paint-on jeans thing or, well… JNCOs. Like ancient artifacts and cursed mummies, some things belong in a museum or buried deep in the earth.