Is Parkour Apparel going the same way as skate culture?!
Fashion has always been a staple in sport.
In the 70s and 80s, mullets and alice bands were the Footballers staple, along with amazingly tight shorts. Skaters adopted a baggy, rough and rugged look. Baggy trousers/chinos, baseball caps/beanies and oversized t-shirts, normally covered in dirt from the excessive stunts they normally partook in!
Parkour fashion & apparel was almost unheard of really before 2012. Brands like Storm Freerun had been making merch since 2010, but the biggest clothing brand in Parkour before was Urban Freeflow (Urban Freeflow was a company that was run a bit like a mafia, but i'll save that for another day.)
When Storm and UF first started making clothing, it was literally just a logo slap-banged on the middle of a tshirt and was sold for 10X the price of what it was made for.
There didn't really seem to be any love and care put into any of these products, but new athletes to the sport would suck these designs up. The classic UF logo was a whopping SIX FIGURE income for "EZ", the corrupt mind behind Urban Freeflow!
In recent years, Parkour clothing has taken a huge step, in what I believe to be, the right direction, putting it on (or towards) the same level as a lot of skate brands.
I've been collecting Parkour apparel since 2012, when the first, now extinct, Storror "S" Tshirt was released. I'm going to be talking about the Parkour merch scene, and what is good and what is bad about it.
From what I recall, Max and Benj Cave borrowed £300 from their MUM and that is really what got the ball rolling. The first Storror Tshirt was printed and sold in 2012 (I think?). It was quite a cool design actually, having quotes and images from their videos to form the S.
Since March 2012, Storror have released clothing almost seasonally, but it has really been since 2013, when the trailer for "Roof Culture" dropped (and the merch with it), did things really start kicking off.
I have multiples of the RC designs, including the long sleeve with RC X Explore down the sides (the XPLOR becoming a staple in Storror's SS14 releases).
What I admire about Storror's clothing, is the streetwear side of it. They do like to adapt heavily into what is fashionable now (longline Tees, oversized Tees, skinny joggers) but they also do push the boat out and take some risks.
In their AW17 range, they had a very nice roll neck XPLOR piece, which was a bold move because I had never seen anyone wear anything like it at the time, however, it does look very smart and slick, with minimalistic, yet effective design.
What I find cool about all of Storror's releases, is it doesn't scream PARKOUR MERCH. I was getting tired of Parkour clothing saying "FREERUNNING" or having a silhouette of a man jumping. This is the kind of clothing you can wear whilst training, but also to a party or a nightclub.
They also adapted a very tidy looking 90s sport range titled "Storror Sport" which took heavy influence from 90s retro clothing (which I dig massively BTW). I bought one of their oversized tees and it's one of my favourites!
Storror are really becoming a staple in the Parkour community, and it is clear that their ambitions are to make Parkour clothing that Parkour "muggles" can also represent and wear. With a mix of sweatshirts, Tshirts, hoodies, trousers and even shoes, this Parkour team is definately going the right way towards making Parkour clothing more universal, much like how Thrasher is now worn by non-skaters around the world.
Another brand I'm seriously liking at this minute, is Norm*l Brand. Run by a guy going by the nickname "Rusty", Norm*l are pushing more whacky streetwear designs. They also make some really decent sweatpants, I had a pair and they were my favourite pair of joggers for two years before I had to slice them off (RIP) when I broke my ankle.
Norm*l are pretty limited on their releases, only releasing once, maybe twice a year if we are lucky, but they're a brand who sponsors athletes rather than coming from a pre-built team like Storror. Rusty definitely knows what is hot in the street wear and clothing scene right now.
The latest collection, the "Vapor" collection brings together basic designs with super nice fits. They don't scream "Parkour" clothing either, making it, very Norm*l (excuse the pun). Though the BOGOs (box logos) do adapt from the popular "Supreme" box logo from that skating company, the clothing is super comfy!
The most underrated of all Parkour brands ATM, are Street Media! These guys only have limited designs at the moment, but they really look into the fits of clothing. Their latest release is the beautiful range shown below.
I ordered the oversized stripe tee and I cannot wait for it to be delivered. Their designs are HEAVILY influenced by skate culture and back in 2016 they had a super dope hoodie drop in collaboration with Norm*l brand which was very limited and something I sadly didn't cop.
HOWEVER, those are all UK Parkour clothing brands, and the list is endless. Storm just released a mediocre range, which appears something more for, dare I say, adults, plus the prices for that are extortionate (£30 for a beanie is like first drop Supreme price and I cannot commit to that).
So what are our friends from all over the world doing?
Lets dive in to some universal Parkour clothing brands and see what they are saying!
Team Farang are a good starting point. Farang have been killin' the clothing game for the last 5-6 years in the Parkour community, they've had some savage designs.
Particularly, I am a fan of their piece, the "linear long sleeve" (Left). I am a huge fan of oversized fits, something that has been adapted by skate culture.
Farang have the benefit of having athletes from multiple different backgrounds! I mean, Anan Anwar is a pop star in Thailand, so his style has always got to be, as the kids say "on fleek".
A lot of Farang's later designs, to me, look like they've drawn from skate brand "Palace", which is good. I'm getting tired of Supreme box logo copies, and Palace do have some dope pieces! Farang's new range is for sure their best, I remember when they released a "Skillz" tshirt years ago in the style of Supreme, which put me off ever so slightly. To sum up, Farang have been really pushing the boat out in terms of style, fits and designs, putting them up there with brands like Storror.
Nowadays, skinny joggers seem to be the new craze in Parkour. Baggy joggers were popular until around 2013, I think the idea of them looking scruffy made people switch to a skinnier, smarter jogger design. However, that doesn't mean the market has died out, many athletes like to spice up their wardrobe. With brands like Skochypstiks (used by Drew) and Etre-Fort making some of the nicest baggy joggers in the business, they're always making athletes look slick! However, nowadays you don't even need shorts or joggers. Brands like The Motus Projects (a UK based company run by Giles Campbell-Longely) released some Parkour Denim. Jeans for Parkour! I don't know a lot about them myself, but apparently they were amazing, used by Connor from Marrero Gang. Skochypstiks followed suit and released some at the end of 2017/ early 2018.
So what does this all mean?
Overall, it's a good step. Parkour is starting to become more of a culture. It's evolving from being that "jumping off walls" to being taken seriously. In 2017, the UK was the first country to officially recognize Parkour as a sport. Which is fantastic! With this, and the growth of interest in Parkour, it is no surprise that non-Parkour athletes have started wearing Parkour clothing (the main culprit being Storror's appealing streetwear designs and stella viral videos putting them at the top.)
Only time will tell whether or not Parkour clothing will officially make its way into the mainstream culture, I hope it does, because the designs are dope!
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment down below on what you think of parkour clothing brands, what are your favorites, what do you dislike?
Also, Crawley Parkour sell some sweet merch ;) we have vest tops for them summer training sessions, or the regular CP in black and white, let us know if you want one ;)
(That was a shameless plug aha)