Palace Skateboards is a name that is never omitted in today’s conversation about streetwear. The English skate imprint founded by Lev Tanju has been around since 2010, and in that seven-year time frame has found fame and ubiquity within skateboarding and streetwear, solidifying its reputation with stellar apparel and footwear collaborations in conjunction with the likes of adidas Originals and Dover Street Market. But before its widespread presence, Palace was a product of humble beginnings for a small group of creatives and skateboarders including the likes of Daniel “Snowy” Kinloch, James Edson, Blondey McCoy and Lucien Clarke.
Originally dubbing themselves the Palace Wayward Boys Choir (PWBC), this inconspicuous and curious name was actually a joke. The moniker was an ironic response to the group’s dire living situation at the time. According to Edson in an interview, “It was called ‘The Palace’ because it was a shit hole. There was like nine of us in a three-bedroom place. When we moved to Waterloo it kind of got coined by Stuart (Hammond) as the Palace Wayward Boys Choir. It was like a group joke thing – we’re not pretentious enough to say ‘skate gang’, you know?” But it is this exact, flippant attitude that worked for the group of friends.
Fed up with the UK’s obsession with America’s admittedly Californian, sunny and highly-produced skate scene, Palace’s brash attitude was a stark contrast. It was this exact differentiation that the UK skate scene didn’t know they needed or wanted at the time. This perspective has propelled Palace to the forefront of skateboarding, with its roster of skaters and creatives now at the highest echelons of the industry. Unsurprisingly, these talented names have branched off into their own ventures outside of their role in Palace, further defining the attitude of UK skateboarding and injecting their own personalities into the already multifaceted face of streetwear. From helming their own brand as in the case of Blondey McCoy, or designing signature shoes a la Lucien Clarke, here’s what the team has been cooking up in other sectors of the industry.
Blondey McCoy – Thames London
Blondey McCoy is probably the face of Palace that you’re most familiar with. The skateboarder who’s barely 20 started his own brand Thames London around four years ago, inspired by the famed river of the same name. According to the skateboarder, artist and designer in a Dazed interview, “Because I grew up skateboarding on the South Bank and because I’m from South West London, the Thames ties everything together for me.” Expect young and relaxed skatewear with graphics that are distinctively London-inspired. Check out its latest lookbook here.
Greg Finch – Life’s a Beach
Life’s a Beach was first around in the ’80s, but thanks to Greg Finch and partners Melvyn De Villiers and Fergus Purcell, the brand has been revived. When the license for L.A.B was up for grabs, the South African ex-professional skateboarder jumped on the opportunity. Finch’s connection with Palace has its roots in sharing an office with Gareth (co-partner of Palace), with Finch helping out with clothing production and advising on English manufacturing techniques. Check out Life’s a Beach here.
Daniel “Snowy” Kinloch and James Edson – Wayward London
Daniel “Snowy” Kinloch and James Edson were two of the original members of the Palace Wayward Boy’s Choir. As Palace became the behemoth name in streetwear it is today, its PWBC roots were never forgotten. Another PWBC imprint is Wayward London, started by Snowy and Edson themselves. The brand features a distinctively darker aesthetic, with moody photographs, bolder and punk-inspired graphics. Learn more about the brand and its offerings here.
Fergus Purcell – Aries Arise
Fergus Purcell isn’t a Palace skater, but he’s undeniably one of the names behind the popularity of Palace today. As the designer of the ubiquitous Penrose triangle logo, Purcell also worked with Marc Jacobs, Katie Hillier, Luella Bartley and more. Fergus partnered with Sofia Prantera on Aries Arise, a T-shirt line that morphed into a full womenswear label.
Lucien Clarke – Pro Model for Supra
One of Palace’s most well-known skaters wouldn’t be so without a few signature shoes. Teaming up with SUPRA, Lucien Clarke designed the Shifter shoe — a skateboarding shoe that features a new cup sole system and a new S tread for improved flexibility and a longer lifespan. Aesthetically, the shoe boasts an asymmetric lacing system that offers unparalleled durability, while a tar toecap features an extra layer of protection. In addition to the SUPRA, Clarke was the mastermind behind the PWBC-cosigned Quattro shoe. You can check out his signature Shifter shoe here.
Danny Brady – Lakai Salford Shoe
Palace skateboarder Danny Brady also has his own signature skateboarding shoe, with Lakai. Inspired by the brand’s Manchester shoe, the Salford features an updated shape and fit with a focus on practicality, function and relevance. A lengthened toe, altered collar and improved shape made this a skateboarding staple. The shoe’s name is fitting as Salford is a city near Manchester, and is also the city Danny’s father is from.
Ben Drury – Art Direction
Ben Drury is an acclaimed artist and graphic designer, dabbling in everything from fashion, music, illustration and archaeology. The Central Saint Martins grad was long involved in cutting-edge graphics before his work with Palace. Drury’s ties with the streetwear brand include the two logos above, which were used in Palace’s 2013 spring/summer collection. Prior to Palace, Drury worked closely with Will Bankhead as both served as visual directors for Mo’ Wax. Aside from working with Palace, Drury’s expansive list of clients include Nike, Microsoft, Rizzoli, Karl Lagerfeld, Dizzee Rascal and more.
Will Bankhead – Trilogy Tapes
Will Bankhead is a close friend of Palace Founder Lev Tanju (and Ben Drury), so the Palace connection is no surprise. In fact, there was even a hoodie named after Bankhead. Originally one of the visual directors behind Mo Wax (alongside Ben Drury, Futura 2000 and Swifty) and Honest Jon’s, Bankhead is responsible for some of the most memorable dance music graphics of the last decade. Although he is a graphic designer by day, Will also owns Trilogy Tapes — a label and imprint that sells independent music through vinyl releases. Trilogy Tapes has also dabbled in apparel, with a collaborative collection of T-shirts that dropped at Hanon back in 2008. Additionally, Bankhead’s Trilogy is responsible for all the Palace records to ever come in existence, which you can check out here. Keep up with Will and Trilogy Tapes on its site and Twitter.