Eye of the Buyer | Agenda’s Top Skate Offerings via Surf Ride’s Josh Rowe

Editor’s Note: The Eye of the Buyer column takes a look at what’s moving the needle at retail through the perspective of the tastemakers and influencers themselves—core specialty shops. Josh Rowe is the skate buyer at Surf Ride in Oceanside, California.

Words & Photos: Josh Rowe

Skateboarding seems to be going through a time loop of sorts right now. Throwbacks are in style, with brands adding modern updates to core pieces, and collaborations with idols of our youth—veteran pros are seeing a second resurgence.

At the same time, a new wave of fresh start-up brands are giving the industry a ’90s feel all over again.  This was what I saw on the tradeshow floor at Agenda Long Beach— a throwback to skateboarding's heritage with a new take and vitality. While the inner child in me is getting nostalgic over this retro phase in the industry, it makes my job that much harder in buying goods the current generation can connect to or care about. Below are the products that best represent this current state of affairs in the industry: products that both the new and older generations of skateboarding can connect with.


1.     DC "The Astor"

The Astor from DC is the brand's newest shoe offering, and is both technical and fashion forward.  A classic court shoe silhouette, the Astor boasts DC's Impact-I technology originally developed for Evan Smith's pro model.  Impact-I, or inflection technology, is a series of low durometer rubber that provides optimum protection for your feet without sacrificing board-feel or flexibility.  The shoe is equipped with DC's signature Super Suede and Super Rubber to create a shoe that lasts double any standard skate shoe. This combination of a classic silhouette with tech goodies packed all into one, feed the need right now that I have seen in the market over the last year.


2.     Sk8mafia x Henry Jones Series

Henry Jones has become one of the fastest growing skateboard artist within the past few years with his humorous take on skate culture that makes us go "Only a real skater would get that!" Sk8mafia is the brand that reminds us that skating with the homies and having fun is one of the best things in skateboarding. This is why I feel the collaboration between Jones and Sk8mafia is perfection. Jones' series is all based off different characteristics of said rider meaning only those who really skate will truly understand the graphic. This series is a must have to ride as well as to keep in the collection.


3.     Pro-Tec Full-Cut Helmet

If you haven't noticed, retro gear is in full swing right now which means safety gear is no exception. From Raybourn to the Gonz, the full-cut helmet has become a staple piece for over forty years since skateboarders started rocking them. Pro-Tec has taken noticed and beefed up their full-cut line with some new colorways such the new Sparkle Gold. Starting Spring '17, Pro-Tec's full-cut will be available in CPSC/CE certified versions as well. Go snag one and learn an eggplant ASAP!


4.     eS  "SLB Mid"

Since its hiatus a few years back, eS has not only  stepped up the game in technical design, but in remaking classic models for current times.  The SLB Mid may be the best example of revamping one of the most classic eS models of all time. While it keeps the same look as the original, the SLB Mid is significantly less bulky than the original.  STI open cell foam keeps your feet comfortable while wicking away moisture and providing breathability through the length of the insole. A new internal bootie will keep your foot in place while premium suede extends the life of the shoe. The SLB Mid is getting its second wind and we’re stoked on it. I was not skating when this shoe originally dropped, and I’ve seen the success eS has had with every re-issue. This one will not be a letdown.


5.     Altamont x Jesse Michaels Moral Panic Long Sleeve

Over the past few years, Altamont had started to fade away from the public eye but going into 2017 they will be a brand everyone will be watching. With a full revamp of the brand occurring for Spring '17, I feel one of the best pieces that will resonate with any skateboarder and music fan is the collection done by Jesse Michaels. Michaels is the lead singer for Operation Ivy, a legendary Bay area punk band that is almost synonymous with skaters like Matt Hensley. All the pieces feature Jesse's signature trim, with all shirts being vintage washed to give it that true band tee feel.


6.     WKND Skateboards

With new, smaller brands popping up every other day, WKND Skateboards isn't going anywhere anytime soon.  Its heavy roster features Raymond Molinar, the newly introduced Austin Gillette, and Jordan Taylor along with ex-rider Eric Koston.  One of the things that makes the brand so exceptional in this day and age is its clean humor and nostalgic reference to pop culture from the late 80s/early 90s.  Couple these graphics with its riders, and direction from owner Grant Yansura, and this brand is poised to keep you laughing and wanting more.


7.     Andale Bearings- Guy Mariano Hot Sauce Wax & Bearing Bottle

Andale has been steadily picking up legendary professionals the last few months, and Guy Mariano is no exception. Naturally, Guy's pro model bearing needs to be reflective of his current career, which is on fire. As a buyer who still works the floor each week, the more you get out of a hardgoods purchase, the happier you will make your customers and keep them coming back. This is why the Guy Mariano Hot Sauce bearing is a must: It’s not only a new set of bearings in a reusable case, but wax that will make you combo any ledge just like Guy.



From the creative mind and veteran pro Alphonso Rawls, #EVERYBODYSKATES has grown from a series of inside jokes into a full blown apparel line. Through the combination of iconic pop images and classic skate humor, Alphonso has created imagery that anyone can connect to whether they skate or not. The line features both tees and tops as well as fine embroidery images, giving the brand a mature look while still keeping the fun going. The strongest feature, however, is that Alph actually takes suggestions from fans for future pieces. In knowing this, I feel the fan focus allows customers to truly connect with the brand since they can actually be a voice of influence for it— something that rarely happens.


9.     C1RCA- Neen

While Neen Williams may be one of the newest additions to C1RCA, he has put in his time in to earn a professional shoe. Neen has a heavy hand in the design of his pro model, and it has been one of C1RCA's best cupsole's to date and a turn back to thick cupsoles. The cupsole's thickness is consistent throughout the shoe and combined with a phylon midsole this shoe was meant to keep you protected while flex points at the forefoot give it the feel of a vulcanized shoe. A key feature that Neen designed for the shoe is the non-slip heel lock material which essentially aids in holding your heel in place, preventing any slip outs. This is the sort of forward looking yet traditionally built cupsole that I feel has been missing from the market and will be a success for those who snag it.


10.  Independent Trucks Luan Oliveira Truck

I can hands down say this is a long overdue product. Independent has finally given Luan Oliveira the honor of having his own pro truck for the brand. Luan is one of the best pro's out (and in my opinion, the best Brazilian skater ever) and his truck will bring every fan of his in the shop for this truck. Do not sleep on this one!