WORDS BY STUART GOMEZ
In July, the Altamont team headed up to Seattle to participate in a group art show at the 35th North skateshop. The art show, including work by riders Ryan Townley and Neen Williams, coincided with the release of Altamont's collaboration with the Sub Pop record label.
Many of the team on the seven-day trip had never been to the Northwest, but Neen is a practiced Pro on the road. Everything Neen did was a constant source of inspiration to the dudes in the van, even his health regimen—Neen’s goal is one hundred push ups each day. The dudes matched this on occasion.
The idea of working on a collab with the venerable Seattle label seemed far-fetched at first: looking for a ‘90s vibe for the Fall ’16 collection, Altamont’s designers mentioned the possibility of Sub Pop almost as a joke. It was actually surprisingly easy considering the record label’s OG status (Sub Pop released Nirvana’s first single, “LoveBuzz,” in 1988).
“One of the art directors at Sub Pop is a skateboarder,” marketing and team manager Noel Paris says. “Literally one phone call was made and next thing we know they were on board. It just happened really easily.”
On the I-5 North: (left to right) Filmer Tim Cisilino, Neen Williams, Frankie Heck.
Oddly enough, Altamont had already worked with several Sub Pop bands in the past—the brand has a knack for partnering with like-minded musicians and artists—and the fact that Sub Pop has its fingerprints all over that decade’s grunge culture made the collaboration a no-brainer. Just to keep the momentum going, Altamont quickly set the wheels in motion to collaborate with Mogwai, a legendary Sub Pop band from Scotland.
Not a bad outcome for just one cold call. Altamont has been having extraordinary luck with the “let’s just call and see” approach. Recently, the brand half-seriously batted around the idea of working with Daniel Johnston. “We just called up his brother and next thing you know we had original drawings to choose from,” Paris says. Incidentally, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain was a big fan of the famed outsider artist and musician; he was frequently seen wearing a shirt bearing Johnston’s art.
Demarquis McDaniels, Varial heelflip. Portland, OR. | Photos: Kyle Seidler
Daniel Dubois, Seattle, WA
Frankie Heck, backside 180 nosegrind switch heelflip. Seattle, WA
Sub Pop had only one design note that they wouldn’t budge on: the instantly recognizable black-and-white logo. But this wasn’t an issue for Altamont. Sub Pop was exceedingly gracious in other areas of design. For example, they were cool with Altamont playing with the verbiage of their infamous rejection letter. If you sent your demo to the label at some point, chances are you’re sadly familiar with the caustic opener, “Dear loser…” This was changed to “Dear Altamont” and used on tees and the lining of the collection’s Ryder denim jacket.
Chris Wimer, frontside 360. Seattle, WA.
2016 marks Altamont’s tenth year. Its philosophy of focusing on skateboarding, music, and art equally has helped to shape the sorts of relationships that make the Sub Pop collab possible. It’s endearing that the brand is shocked when their favorite brands say yes to a collaboration. Why wouldn’t they? Altamont’s reputation precedes it. Ten years down the line, they’re still producing winning partnerships.
Daniel Dubois, kickflip overcrook. Seattle, WA