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John Shanahan

Fast Forward Rewind

Skateboarding is actually old enough now that revivals are possible. A while ago, you felt reminded of the early ‘90s, whereas now the late ‘90s or early ‘00s are coming back with their flashy baggy clothes. Nowadays, no one embodies that as evidently as John Shanahan, who could easily be beamed back into 2003’s The DC Video for a cameo appearance. With two ender parts in this year’s DC output Street Sweeper and the following Bronze video, he not only wrote himself directly into the history books of skateboard videography but also brought the style of the millennium back to 2018, with as much boom as Chad Muska’s beatbox.

Hey John, where are you right now?

I'm on the highway in Jersey, going back to New York City. I went to Pennsylvania for the weekend.

Are you going back a lot?

I’ll come back for holidays and shit, just to hang out with my girl’s family and my family. We celebrated Thanksgiving early.

Did you skate Love Park a lot growing up?

Not a lot. I'm from a smaller town an hour and a half away from Philadelphia. I’d take trips out there with the older kids, but it wasn’t like I was skating there every weekend.

How was skating there?

It was sick. I wasn’t fully able to skate the ledges super good though. We’d actually skate City Hall more because there were four and five stairs.

"All the footage from the late ’90s, early 2000s is my favorite shit. That shit gets my hyped. The vibes were amazing."

Did you ever skate there with Stevie Williams or Josh Kalis?

Nah, not when I was younger. I never ran into them down there.

Is it strange to be teammates with Stevie and Kalis now?

Yeah, it’s crazy, but they’re super cool, so it feels natural. We have a good connection.

Who are your favorite skaters?

Stevie, Kalis, Rob Welsh is definitely one of my favorites. There’s a lot of people who were killing it. I love the shit Chad Muska did. Jason Dill, AVE…

What’s your golden era of skateboarding?

All the footage from the late ’90s, early 2000s is my favorite shit. That shit gets my hyped. The vibes were amazing, and it seemed like everyone was skating with each other and teams meant more back then because they were all skating with each other all the time. Nowadays, you can be on a team with anybody that you never even fucking met, you know what I’m saying? Back in those days, it looked like everyone was just having fun and vibing out with each other, and you can just tell by looking at the footage. I like that.

Soloskatemag John2

Ollie to Fakie

It seems like skaters are drawn to old times a lot. Why do you think that is?

There’s a few reasons. I think the shit that sticks out, stood the test of time. It’s obviously always gonna be good. I feel like back then people weren’t just pumping it out. Nowadays, there’s a new video every fucking day up on Thrasher. Back in the day, they’d take their time and do a full project. That shit would come out really good and they’d put everything into it till it came out perfect. The shit you put that much effort into is always gonna be classic. I feel like you need to know the history of the shit you’re doing. That’s a part of skateboarding as well. You don’t want to do tricks that have already been done.

How did you get into that style of skating? How did you get into the clothes you’re wearing?

This one summer in Woodward, I was skating a lot because I was working there, just skating nonstop every day. My feet were fucking killing me because I had these thin shoes. I already got flowed some stuff by DC at the time, so I thought I’d just get puffy shoes and see how that feels because my feet are so sensitive. I just went on eBay at Woodward, got some puffy DCs, started skating in them a little bit, and I loved them. Since they look weird in skinnier pants, I started wearing baggier shit. It kinda just escalated from there.

Where do you find the clothes you’re wearing?

A lot of the old DC shit is actually pretty hard to find. When I started, I’d go on eBay and type in “vintage DC shoes,” and mad shit would pop up because people weren’t buying it a few years ago. By now, it’s harder to find. There’s a bunch of people looking for that shit.

So the prices are high for that stuff nowadays?

Yeah, a few years ago, you could find a little gem pretty cheap, or someone was selling like a sick DC jacket for cheap because they didn’t think it’s worth shit. Now, people are more cautious. They realized that they can charge more money and people still pay for it.


Soloskatemag John Ollie2


What’s the most expensive item you can find?

I know that the Howards are the most expensive DC shoes, but you can’t skate them. They just crumble. I’ve seen them on eBay for $400.

You’re also involved in that vintage sponsor thing, right?

Yeah, my boy Matt Roberge started it. I helped him market it through skating and shit. He also knows a lot of snowboarders who were sponsored. So he’s always thrifting, and if he, for example, finds some old Volcom shit, he hooks up a friend who’s riding for Volcom now. He gives them all the old shit, but it’s still a sponsor.

So he gives them the stuff for free?


That’s a fun idea.

As soon as he put it on Instagram, it kinda took off and grew pretty quickly. All of the snowboarders he hooked up were promoting this shit, all the skaters as well. He has a shop now on Canal Street in New York and an official website.

"I think the shit that sticks out, stood the test of time. It’s obviously always gonna be good."

That’s crazy! You started your own thing as well, you’re sewing and stitching your own clothes, right?

Yeah, it’s called One Off John. It’s just a little side project.

What are you doing there?

Basically, I’m taking a bunch of different pieces of clothing that I like and rework it, make my own creations out of it.

How do you design it? Do you find something and think about how to combine it or do you have something in mind and look for stuff to realize it with?

I have these ideas of what I want to do and sometimes I find the right thing and it will spark the inspiration. It’s kinda weird because I have all these collections of clothes. So in the back of my head, I know what I have and when I find the perfect piece to go with it, I kinda work from there. Basically, I just collect a bunch of shit and eventually I’ll be able to mix it up.

Soloskatmag John Nosegrind180

Nosegrind revert

Have you always been into clothes or did it just start with the old DC stuff?

t kinda started from there. When I was younger, I didn’t really give a fuck. I was just a skate rat. Whatever I get for free, I’d fucking wear. I wasn’t buying my own shit.

Did you teach yourself how to sew and stitch?

My girlfriend had this sewing machine in her basement. She set it up for me and kinda showed me how to do it, but I basically just watched a couple of videos and figured it out as I went.

How much time do you invest into making these clothes?

Definitely a lot of time. It’s cool because when you’re tired from skating and have to chill for a day or two, you have something to look forward to, but it depends on what it is. Like, getting the clothes and finding the right stuff to mix takes time as well. Actually, putting them together could take an hour or ten hours. It depends on the piece of clothing.

So you hang out a lot at thrift stores or second hand stores?

I have my little routes. I get a lot of inspiration for shit I want to make anyway. You get to see a lot of different pieces of clothing and you get to feel everything, kinda figure out materials and shit. It’s hands on and you can learn a lot.

Do you prefer that over buying on eBay?

It’s definitely more fun. There’s more thrill if you find something you want. It’s a crazy feeling, but I do still fuck with eBay.

Soloskatemag John 5050


What are the best stores you found on a skate trip?

I went to a bunch of good thrift stores in Montreal, but usually when I’m on a skate trip, we don’t really do that whole thing. When I thrift, I like to take a long time, and when I’m on a trip, I don’t want to fly back with a garbage bag full of clothes, but If there’s a vintage store, I’d pop in and check out what they got.

Do you plan to do more in the fashion world?

Yeah, hopefully. I would definitely like to. For now, I’m just working on the brand. I want to make it more legitimate, get my own tags, try to get my own shit made. Maybe make a few exclusive pieces that I don’t actually sew myself. That would be cool.

You were also working on a DC collection. How did you want it to be and look like?

I did a shoe colorway which was inspired by two shoes. One being the shoe I got off of eBay, it was like a Rob Dyrdek shoe, but it looked like an Air Max. I really liked the leather on it because you don’t find that one on any skate shoe. I wanted to put that on a skate shoe and I wanted to put it in white and red because I had Stevie’s 2nd shoe on DC which had this colorway. From there, I also did the matching tracksuit, going for some space suit looking shit, some NASA shit.

You ride the old gear, the bulky shoes. Do you also ride a small board?

I like to switch it up sometimes, but last summer, I was riding the sabotage DGK board. It was a 7.5, but that’s the smallest I went. I jump around like 8 and 8.1. I like switching up the board size because it makes you skate differently, it makes you want to try different tricks. So it’s fun to experiment with that.

Soloskatemag John Ollie3

Ollie to Fakie

You’re doing a lot of big stuff. Do you do that with a 7.5 as well?

I definitely was doing it. It doesn’t really fuck with me that bad to switch up the size. I’m skating an 8 inch board right now, but I’m skating 8.25 trucks because I like my trucks to stick out a little bit. When I was skating a 7.5, I was skating 8 inch trucks. I don’t like 8 inch trucks for skating ledges because there’s not enough space to lock into crooked grinds and shit. It’s harder to get it on top.

With the late ’90s celebrating a comeback in skateboarding right now, in which ways does it differ from back then?

All the spots are different. I feel like skating the street itself is definitely a lot different than it was back then. It’s harder to get away with shit sometimes. I feel like New York changed a lot after 9/11. I never skated it before that, but it was probably way sicker in regards of security always being everywhere and shit.

You got arrested in the beginning of your part in Street Sweeper. What happened?

There’s a train station that has a glass roof going over the steps and there was a ledge on top of it. So I was skating the ledge, landed the trick pretty quick, but then I wanted to film it from a different angle. I was trying it for fifteen or twenty minutes. I landed it the second time, and while I was riding away and turning around to check the footage out, this dude steps in front of me and tells me to come over and just starts putting handcuffs on my wrist. He showed me his badge and told me that I was under arrest for skating this thing. There was two of them. I was just mad confused. They took me to a little holding cell at the train station and I had to chill there for a minute, get my mug shot and fingerprints till they let me go. I had to go to court a couple of weeks later and they basically dropped it. I didn’t even have to pay a fine. The judges were like, “Oh, you were just skateboarding? That’s weird. You can leave.”