Our friends have set up a brand new national UK skate magazine – The Skateboarder’s Companion. We are not only super stoked for them, we are also stoked for what this means for UK skateboarding in general.
The UK skateboard magazine legacy
Since the demise of the excellent Sidewalk Magazine a few years back, the UK has been in desperate need of a widely distributed national mag. I say widely distributed because unlike brilliant mags like Free, Grey and Vague, The Skateboarder’s Companion is available in newsagents as well as skate shops. This gives our awesome four-wheeled pursuit extra exposure to the mainstream, helping entice new participants into the world of skateboarding.
I clearly remember the stoke of seeing a new issue of RAD, Skateboard! or Sk8 action (that’s right we had 3 nationally distributed mags in the late eighties) when I was a 12 year old, and it’s great to know kids can get hyped on skating in exactly the same way now.
As the 90’s wore on, RAD gave way to the mighty Sidewalk which sat at the pinnacle of UK skateboarding for 20 years. Sidewalk was the go-to mag if you needed to know what was happening in UK skating. If you wanted to know who was killing it, who was doing the best tricks, who had the best style, what brands were making rad stuff and running fun tours, this was the first place you would look.
Why are skateboard magazines important?
A skateboard magazine isn’t just important for its readers. It’s what the vast majority of skaters aspire to be featured in. The feeling of getting a pic in a mag is amazing. That pic has a lot of meaning. Your trick has been chosen to be featured in a publication with limited space, where the editor has hundreds of skaters and pics to choose from. I think this is what makes getting a pic in a mag so special. Unlike the infinite capacity of the Instagram feed, a mag is physical, thus resulting in the real estate on each page having a very high value. The editor has chosen your pic to take up some of that precious space. It’s printed and forever on that page. Someone thinks your pic is so good that it warrants that investment both financial and physical – there is a certain kudos about this. Physical mags give some skaters something to aspire to, motivating them to the limits of their abilities, helping push skateboarding to the next level.
A national magazine is also vital for brands to communicate with their customers, showing readers their latest products and new riders. Not only does this help to build skater’s careers, but it also benefits skate brands, resulting in a greater number of skaters being employed within the industry. Does anyone remember how rad the partially shadowed Koston 2 éS ads were? Hype! Brands also use mags to see who is up and coming nationally and might fit their sponsored teams. If the editor of a mag thinks someone is worth featuring, odds are that skater could be a great team rider. Brands find new riders and are able to give them new opportunities. It’s not just free product either – tours, photo trips and adventures are all in the pipeline.
Retailers like us can demonstrate how important we feel national mags and the skate scene are by supporting them with advertising from issue 1. When we were discussing what type of ad to run, Sam and I looked at what we were stoked on as kids and we remembered pouring over those ads with tonnes of product pics on. What deck was going to help me pop higher? Which shoes did I want next? We both loved those ads, so we went for a modern take, pulling from our recent Instagram feed. Similar to the old times but not shot on the shop counter with a terrible 2 megapixel camera like times of old!
Our first impressions
Getting that glossy first issue of The Skateboarder’s Companion in my hands was so exciting. It had all the great style of articles, stickers and comps that Sidewalk used to have bound up in a full-size glossy format. Not having handled a mag like this since the last Sidewalk years ago, getting hold of it felt very special. Having our first ever Supereight physical ad in there was the cherry on top and something we had wanted to do since we started the store.
We are super stoked for Leo, Matt and Ryan. They have done a rad job. Be in no doubt, they have poured their hearts and souls into this project and they are taking a big risk to bring a national mag back to UK stores, so be sure to support them and get hold of one of these beauties as soon as you can!