Skateboarding is full of entrepreneurs. Unfortunately a lot of them have bad ideas. Chris Yerington’s Eggplant Skatewear wasn’t one of them.
I caught the skate bug when skateboarding was pretty much dead in the water – or should I say on the asphalt. The Heyday of the 80s was gone and everything was downsizing – except for the clothes which were blowing up. It’s no surprise Thrasher Magazine announced ‘Skateboarding is dead’ on is cover in September 1993.
As a kid I just saw all this change as some sort of new trend or challenge and just stuck with it. As an adult today I see that the economy was taking a major hit so entrepreneurs had to get creative to keep costs down and production rolling and sales up. How Steve Rocco, CEO of World Industries and its affiliate brands, managed to market 40mm wheels, XXXL Bob shirts and toothpick-shaped decks to kids for higher prices really is a stroke of genius in retail.
People adapt to survive in dangerous situations, so when the economy bottoms out and an industry struggles to stay afloat, the will power of entrepreneurs starts to show. Any and all ideas are welcome if they are injecting money into the system.
Skate Magazines were the frontline of these dark days. Issues were anorexic-thin, paper was virtually see-through and film sequences were replaced by video-grabs. Then there was the freak show of derivative products being peddled to skaters. Off the top of my head I can remember bizarre headbands, necklaces, lace savers… All sorts of rubbish nobody needed.
One start-up stood out though. Eggplant Skatewear took the high road by placing full page adverts for their purple beanies and hats – purple being the colour of an eggplant (Aubergine for European folk). To be honest a purple beanie isn’t that appealing but the adverts were handwritten by the company founder, Chris Yerington, and read like a letter his grandma full of hope and enthusiasm.
As a teenager then, reading the Eggplant ads, I felt a strong connection to Chris and what he was trying to accomplish. I just didn’t have any funds to help him achieve his dreams.
As an adult now, I presume an adult was behind the Eggplant scheme and it was all just clever marketing. I wish I had an Eggplant Skatewear beanie now because it was an artefact of that era when entrepreneurship helped keep skateboarding afloat.
The trademark for Eggplant Skatewear expired in 1999 which is a shame because that was when skateboarding was on the verge of blowing up again. Today, skateboarding has a huge number of bedroom companies clogging up the market and skateshop walls. As always, this is just testament to the entrepreneurs that help keep this culture rolling.
Thanks to Thrasher Magazine for the scans.