Let’s start this text talking historically. Brazil, the 80’s: when Tony Hawk and Lance Moutain came, along with Hosoi constant visits, they found a country full of bootleg companies and weird copies of pieces that didn’t even exist, like Tony Hawk having his pro model shoe here but he didn’t even had officially a pro model in US. Some companies were owned by skaters and that always have been a fact in Brazil, that weren’t so many companies not ruled by skateboarders. Of course, with the popularization of the sport, some bigger and outsiders companies started to create its teams like Coke and Pepsi sponsoring some Brazilian young rippers like Lincoln Ueda and Sandro Dias, but in majority, skateboarding was always ruled by skaters.
Lincoln Ueda put Brazil on the map when he got fourth in 1989, at Münster Monster Mastership, in Germany. He was only 15. Then Bob came and opened the doors for Brazil and Brazilians in the US. And then, of course, Rodrigo TX consolidated strong roots in the history of street skating all over the world, showing that Brazil was a strong force in streets too. We can’t forget those who came before like Andre Genovesi, Fabrizio Santos and Citystar’s Roger Mancha.
Meanwhile, Brazil was living a rough era of weird skateboarding companies, a “boom” of skate magazines and an increasing number of skateboarders. This was 90’s and the beginning of 00’s. Here we’ve always had a bizarre skateboarding material concept, like using different types of woods in the decks, not using the regular maple, or cheap materials for trucks and wheels. And what about Brazilian griptapes? Shit, I’ve seen a lot of Brazilian dudes using some paper-glued, sanded grips. The board was heavy as fuck and not too cheap as you may think.
Skateboarding mentality was hood and gangsta. DGK made a HUGE influence in Brazilian skateboarding because was an identity that Brazilians always carried but without a name for it, without a brand that represented our true face. That Kayo Corp. video changed the game, the DGK part made everybody start to buy New Era hats, baggy pants and made skaters pay more attention to ledge and manual tricks. Ok, street skating in Brazil certainly have an aspect of roughness and difficulty because our spots are not easy to skate and not “perfect”. Imagine a set of stairs, but in Brazil you will find with a bad floor or a weird landing area, especially in the beginning of this century.
Some companies were ruled by skateboarders but others were just trying to go with the good flow. We had and we still have lots of “surf shops” sponsoring kids and some other outside companies too, like Nescau (a chocolate-drink) but, fortunately, in my point of view, those companies just had a hype and left skateboarding behind. Yes, those companies put money on skateboarding but they didn’t know how to act that whole time, like making weird contracts and putting skateboarders in weird situations at demos and presentations. I remember a time when I was at like 6th grade at school and Nescau’s team came to do a demo for us. I was hyped because I already skated at that time but other kids weren’t really understanding that much. But the most bizarre was a sort of uniform that Necau’s riders had to use, like a red shirt and yellow shorts. Everybody with the same gear.
Yeah, that was a weird phase of Brazilian skateboarding but all that started to change with Internet and MOSTLY (yes, that is a fact) because the arrival of Nike SB and Adidas Skateboarding to our country. Along with putting A LOT of money, Nike and Adidas recruited the best skaters to their team. The fucking best Brazilians. Nike had Fabio Cristiano, Rodrigo Petersen, Cezar Gordo and Rafael Finha for pros and some pretty good amateurs like the Pastel brothers. Adidas got Klaus Bohms and put him on the international team (fucking well deserved!), along with young rippers like Marcelo Garcia and Akira Shiroma.
In the begginig, the Brazilians pros had huge influence on how Nike and Adidas would work in our lands, what made skaters had free space and free will. That was something not everybody had and seeing this on a huge company was definitely a mind-change.
It’s important to talk about Crail and Supa Dist. when we talk about true Brazilian companies. Crail is been around since 1990 always giving riders a reason to stay with them: they are true. Pro models and a direct relationship with skaters. Supa is responsible for Crail (trucks), Moog (wheels) and Agace (decks). Oh, Agace. That mark made a BIG difference in woods: they were the first to put 100% maple on brazilian woods. Buy “gringos” decks isn’t needed anymore. Supa made the transition to bad materials to good ones. Is needed to say that many people talk shit on Agace’s Maples. They say that is “China woods” and low quality, but Supa guarantee 100% Maple and its sponsored skaters approve it, they back’em. Sorry for the haters, but I truly believe when Fabio Cristiano says something is cool.
Future Skateboards started to make maple decks too. Pretty cool team and pretty cool ideas, but when they launched a promotion for kids saying that they would give a deck and a little statue (that represented the company) they gave “brazilian-wood deck”. Hey, what a wrong way to get a costumer! You make maple and you give shit in a web-contest? I don’t know, maybe I’m too picky, but that’s wrong.
Needed to say the comeback of Son Skateboards. The company started in 1995 but as any other company it struggled with money problems and had to stop in the beginning of the 00’s. But it came back to life in 2012 with a BIG team, big names on the crew, maple decks (it’s ridiculous to you “not-brazilian” but for us is a huge thing), and skater-owned. The decks are the same quality as Plan B, so its good!
Other important “new” companies skater-owned are: Öus, a shoe company started in 08 that revolutionized the insole and sole materials here in Brazil; Vibe Shoes, good team and just released a video called “Cityzen” that showed the free space skaters and the creative brains of the company have; Liga Trucks, skater-owned, good team, good names on the roster, new materials for trucks; HAHAHA, a new clothing company made by skateboarders that has a good taste and a different approach on the market; Metallum, a truck company owned by Andre Hiena, a legend of street skating in São Paulo, good and cheap materials, from skater to skater; Drop Dead, skater-owned and 20 years in the bizz, has its own skatepark that helped kids to evolve A LOT in Curitiba; Kronik Skateboards, fiberglass decks and skater-owned; Freeday, a shoe company that made a huge noise in Brazil in the beginning of 00’s; Hood Griptape, a brazilian grip having the same material as Jessup grip; And many skateshops like Matriz, Retta, SecretSpot and Skateboard Office (RIP).
You see, Brazilians are getting the point by not only owning a company but giving full space for skateboarders, making good materials, making good brazilian woods, trucks and wheels be able to be compared to foreign materials. That’s important. That’s a big deal. Brazilians don’t need to buy US parts no more to have a good board. Now we have the free will to choose between supporting the local market or supporting an outside market. Is up to the brazilian skater to choose what to buy and who to support.