Words: Danny Wilson / more Gleaming The Cube
After months of speculation and tasteful yet mysterious ads that followed the dissolution of the great bastion of UK skateboarding, Blueprint skateboards, the details of Nick Jensen and Paul Shier’s latest venture Isle skateboards have finally come to light and it’s all looking terribly promising. Needless to say it would take some doing to wash the bad taste out of one’s mouth following the unfortunate demise of a brand that meant so much to so many and the European skateboard community as a whole but even with that in mind it is most certainly exciting time for skateboarding this side of the Atlantic. And perhaps the most encouraging aspect of what we have seen so far is a willingness if not an eagerness on the part of the men behind the brand to present themselves as clearly an entirely different proposition to the big American, Multinational brands that they will be competing with.
The choice of “Isle” as a name speaks volumes in relation to where the brand’s allegiances lie but also the men behind its views on their place within the industry as a whole and perhaps most significantly is a reflection on where things went wrong with Blueprint. Obviously the name conjures up an association between the brand and the British Isles, Isle’s base. Though the line up is not exclusively British sourced with one of their first pro’s being Berlin based Frenchman and in my opinion one of the best dudes out, Sylvain Tognelli. But the name more so than just proudly wearing it’s English roots on it’s sleeve it also is the first sign of a wilful isolation of sorts within the industry. The men behind Isle seem to be happy to present themselves as an independent body to at a comfortable, self-imposed disconnect from the industry as a whole.
This willingness to exist outside of “mainstream” skateboarding is probably in part a reaction to the multitude of success story’s at the moment of people doing their own thing and garnering acclaim from a wider audience than would ever have previously been the case but also one would speculate a reaction to what happened to the once unimpeachably awesome Blueprint of old. The ins and outs of Blueprint’s, or Blueprint as we once knew it anyway’s, slow and tragically undignified demise has been widely discussed at this point. In essence the beginning of the end was a change in ownership with Canadian Distribution Company “Pure Distribution” taking charge following the liquidation of previous distributers “Faze 7”. Though the specifics relating to exactly what changes to the existing Blueprint vision Pure wanted to bring about remain understandably somewhat hush hush there was a sufficient level of discontent to drive away Blueprint Founder and brand manager and film maker Dan Magee and in the months that followed the entirety of the team parted ways with the seminal UK brand. The common consensus being that it simply wasn’t the same blueprint anymore. Some would argue the beginning of the end was the introduction of any U.S pro’s to the roster though that seems a little too black and white when one considers the quality of the content the American guys produced without sacrificing any of the brand’s vision and as an aside it’s great to see American Blueprint alum and noted east coast switch-stance spot hunter Kevin Coakley has landed on his feet over that newly rejuvenated Think skateboards.