I've always been attracted to the skateboard culture since the second I stumbled into it when I was 10 years old. And like many other people my age, their introduction to skating came with the release of Tony Hawk's Pro Skateboarder, and/or their first skateboard for Christmas. From the boards themselves to the clothing and style behind it all, I was hooked. I still have a couple of my first skateboards and a handful of shirts from when I was a kid. There's an attachment that we sometimes have to material objects that extends beyond the monetary value of those items, and that's why we cant bring ourselves to get rid of them. Tony Hawk is no exception to that.
I've had the pleasure of knowing Tony for years, and he has always been nothing but supportive to skateboarders and whatever entrepreneurial drive they decide to pursue. After catching up one day, he asked how my little clothing company was doing. I had told him how stoked I was that I had just gone to Jeff Grosso's house to help him sift through stacks and stacks of shirts he's been holding onto for years. Tony then mentioned that he had some stuff he could probably give to me. Of course I was stoked, but I had no idea what I was in for...
We had planned to have a session the following day and go through a "couple" shirts.
He texted me the following morning saying he'd gone to his storage unit and picked up BAGS of old tees for us to go through. The only catch was that he wanted a couple custom things done for him. I obviously obliged, but the making of the pieces I did for him were the most nerve-wrecking pieces I have ever worked on. They included old Del Mar Skate Ranch shirts, and even first run tees of early 90's Birdhouse shirts. Here's what that haul of shirts looked like, and the stories that came with them.
I walked into his office, with him multitasking a business call and stacks of old shirts.
Remember when Mike Frazier rode for Birdhouse? No? well that just goes to show how old this tee is.
80's Birdman in action figure formation, custom one-of-one for the man himself.
You think it's easy to get rights to Mickey and Animal? No way, but you better believe these are legit.
30 years ago it was a different story, companies could get away with running anything in small enough runs. This birdhouse tee could easily be mistaken for a Seuss tee but check the back graphic for Birdhouse authenticity.
Klein, Seuss, Frazier, and more classic Birdhouse GOLD.
Both Tony and his eldest son Riley, made it onto Jones Soda bottles. But only one of the tees was ever worn. The discoloration on the young Riley tee makes it apparent.
From re-issue to OG DMSR tees, Tony has it all.
Skatepark tours, video games, fundraisers, Tony's done it all.
You think you've made it? Not till you've been on The Simpsons, you haven't. This was the last one he gave me, definitely a personal favorite.
The full haul.
We didn't end up skating because we spent too much time going through piles of shirts. So from there I went home and had to figure out what to do with the following shirts he wanted me to make into something he could wear again.
This one was easily the most nerve wrecking one to cut up. I was honestly surprised Tony decided he wanted it cut up at all. This shirt is damn near 30 years old from when Birdhouse was little more than a concept in Tony's mind. Just before they started having boards made, Jeremy Klein worked for a screen printing company or would just screen print on his own, and would come up with his own graphics. He was on board to join Tony in riding for this new board company he had started. Before even getting the go ahead, he printed up some samples of this graphic he created and had a couple made. This shirt is from that first unofficial run, that would later be on the FIRST birdhouse board.
So it's easy to understand why Tony held onto this shirt for so long. He would continue to wear it, but the style at the time demanded the 2XLarge tee, and he has since then sized down to a more fitting Large.
A classic Del Mar Skateboard Ranch tee, his home turf growing up. Not an original, but all the meaning is still there.
Unlike the other Del Mar top he wanted remade into something new, this green crewneck sweater was an original. Tony's first time there was around 1980, and was something that seemed completely different from the Oasis park he had been to. He would go on to skate there until its end in 1987. Because of its thicker material he asked specifically for this one to go on crewneck or hoodie in some way.
Now onto what they turned into...
I still don't know which was more stressfull, the cutting up of the shirts or the actual sewing part. It was probably because I really wasn't given any instruction on what he wanted. He had given me free reign to use my judgement on what would look best. I decided to go with making him two pocket tees, and two outerwear pieces.
Once I was succesfully finished, I was relieved... For about 5 seconds. I then moved on to wondering and hoping he would actually like what I did with his old shirts. Eventually, I told him I had finished his shirts, and we linked up to have a session at his ramp. Still kind of nervous to give them back, I waited until after we skated to show him what I did.
After the session, I handed him over the bag of stuff I made him. He told me "Grant [Brittain] is gonna TRIP" as the first two things he pulled out of the bag were the Del Mar pieces I made him. Grant has shot tons of classic photos over the past 40 years, some of the most recognizable being from the Del Mar Skate Ranch.
I initially forgot to snap a photo of him wearing the Birdhouse hoodie, and by the time I had asked him to send me a photo he had already even worn it enough to wash it.
Laughing at the Riley/Jones Soda pocket tee, reminiscing about more old Birdhouse graphics, and hearing old Del Mar stories.... The love for nostalgia never dies. It's all these things that are perfect examples of how material objects can hold a deeper meaning past its physical presence. It's the whole reason I love doing all this, and I'm happy I had the opportunity to do what I do for a personal childhood hero.
Thank you for trusting me with the goods Tony. You're a legend! And THANK YOU for reading.
Much love all. Keep hoarding t-shirts.
Shop the Tony Hawk Custom Cuts Collection and see which one of these shirts you can get for yourself in a new upcycled form.