Palace Skateboards is undoubtedly the biggest streetwear export from the United Kingdom and has even won itself a place alongside Supreme as one of the most hyped brands out there. Here’s everything you need to know about the London-based brand and why it has become one of streetwear’s most popular labels in recent years.
Palace Skateboards has seen mass success since it first started back in 2009. While you may think it is just about polo shirts with Palace emblazoned across the breast or caps with a giant P stitched onto the front of them, there is so much more to Palace.
What Is Palace Skateboards?
For those who don’t know, Palace Skateboards is a streetwear brand that launched in 2009. It has exploded in the past 8 years and now stands alongside the likes of Supreme, Bape and Stussy as one of the leaders in streetwear and skate-wear. It is a brand that is heavily influenced by skating and popular culture, much like its similar counterpart Supreme, but is one that offers a distinctly unique British flare.
While only eight years old, there is a lot of depth to how Palace Skateboards came about in the UK (largely known now solely as Palace) and its history is one that is extremely interesting. Palace clothing is now some of the most hyped and their collections instantly sell out, giving Supreme a run for its money, and it is never a surprise that streams of fans await the opening of one of its stores on the morning of one of its drops. Now they have expanded from selling the odd Palace T-shirt in a handful of stores across London to having stores across the world.
As mentioned, Palace Skateboards goes way back to 2009 and while it is still a relatively young brand, the success it has seen in those eight years has been unrivalled. The story all began in the late ’00s or Noughties when Lev Tanju and his friends, who all happened to be skaters, were living in a flat close to Waterloo station on the south side of the River Thames.
Tanju was born in London and is the son of an ex-pro Turkish footballer and an English woman, who owned a restaurant in Clapham, where the likes of Jack Nicholson used to eat. Being skaters, they were in perfect proximity to the iconic Southbank skate park. The group were squatting in the flat and named themselves the ‘Palace Wayward Boys’ Choir’. When Tanju decided to set up a label, the name seemed obvious to him and thus the beginnings go Palace go back his squatting years.
The brand then started to pop-up (now surprisingly) quite unceremoniously across London. Stores like the now-shut The Hideout were some of the first to stock Palace apparel. Soon though, the brand had spread across the United Kingdom, although still somewhat overlooked. East London’s Present now stocked the brand, as did Liverpool’s legendary Lost Art skate shop.
Once a name had been settled on and a game plan for his new brand worked out, Tanju’s next move was to come up with a logo. He wanted to create one that would have the same recognition as those of Nike, Apple and Adidas. Creating something that would be as instantly recognisable as these brands would not be an easy feat, but luckily for Tanju he managed it. He enlisted the help of legendary London-based illustrator Fergus Purcell (also known as ‘Fergadelic’) who, alongside designing logos for his own brands Tonite and Silas, had designed for the likes of Stussy.
Tanju went to Purcell with his brand’s strategy and the latter soon came back to him with a logo he thought would work well. He gave Tanju a spin on Oscar Reutersvärd’s Penrose Triangle, which this time featured Palace branding on each side of the triangle. The name? Well Tri-Ferg seemed appropriate, seeing as it was a triangle created in a sense by Fergadelic.
Over the past eight years, the brand has been logo-heavy and its unique (and some maybe not so unique) designs have been worn by the likes of Rihanna, Jay-Z and even North West. Palace has put out riffs on famous logos from a take on Versace’s famous Medusa head logo (worn by Rihanna) to a cheeky take on Chanel’s CC logo.
Palace’s clothing is now instantly recognisable (if you don’t recognise it, where have you been?) and it is worn by dads and kids alike, which is something that really pleases founder Tanju. The brand reflects a nostalgic look back at the Nineties, especially with regards to popular culture and skating. The brand is the master plan of a guy who hung out with a bunch of skaters 24/7 and the clothing reflects this.
Over the years, there has been uncountable references to the nineties throughout Palace streetwear collections – from a T-shirt emblazoned with a ‘Mitsubishi’ pill on it (this was the popular ecstasy brand back then) to references to popular Nineties films like Terminator. With regards to his concepts, Tanju has said “I guess it’s when I was young and I could do whatever I wanted. It’s a banging time to think about.”
Popular items are Palace’s tracksuits, hoodies, sweatshirts and T-shirts, but if you want something you’ve got to be quick because grabbing a Palace item is near impossible. As mentioned before, in the beginning Palace products were only available in selected stockists (these have now grown to include the likes of End Clothing, Norse Store, Svpply, Couverture & The Garbstore), but in 2012/2013 the brand started focusing its attention not just on its online store, but also on solid bricks and mortar ventures.
First came a series of pop-up stores, which were known as ‘Pop-Off Shops’ or ‘Palace Retail Powerslide’. Ahead of pop-up stores, fliers were issued which promised ‘fully untrained staff’ and ‘posh new high-end shit’, which continued Palace’s humorous and sometimes laughably obnoxious take on fashion.
In 2015, Palace Skateboards announced the opening of its first store on London’s Brewer Street, and it was a Nineties nostalgia affair. The marble black and white floors pay homage to the brands worn during the Garage days of the Nineties, such as Versace, Moschino and Prada. The store is situated just around the corner from Supreme, making Soho an unofficial hub for Hypebeasts.
Now Palace has a New York outpost, which after the success of the Palace London store was a natural next move, seeing as New York is the home of streetwear (Supreme was born there after all).
How to buy Palace online has changed over time, as the brand became a whole lot more popular. Nowadays it isn’t as simple as just going onto the site whenever you feel like it and grabbing the latest hoodie from Palace’s latest collection. Now there is a skill to it and it involves paying close attention to when a so-called Palace ‘drop’ is about to occur. In its early days the brand was a little more loose in the way it worked, but now it puts out four seasonal collections a year; Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.
These ‘drop’ at midnight on a Friday in GMT before being released in bricks and mortar stores on a Saturday morning. Essentially, you’ll be informed of a drop at the beginning of the week (nothing like last minute) and then will be able to shop on the Friday night. We basically recommend trying your luck from the comfort of your home, and if that fails and the piece you really want is still on your mind, it’s time to wrap up warm and get out and camp. Yes really, Hypebeasts are notorious campers when it comes to getting those pieces they really want!
Palace has become as much known for its collaborations as it has the stuff it pushes out off its own back. Collaborative pieces and collections are some of the most sought after and they are instant sell outs.
In 2012, Palace Skateboards x Umbro was one of the brands first collabs and was a definite celebration of all things British, which is deep rooted in the core of the brand. The capsule collection featured a series of collaborative pieces which flew off shelves, both digital and actual, and featured athletic pieces as well as football jerseys inspired by the England team’s 1990 World Cup football kit.
In 2013 came Palace Skateboards x Reebok Classics, which again celebrated English sporting brands in true Palace fashion. For the collaboration Palace recreated the classic Reeboks Classics silhouettes. These included the classic leather trainer and workout style, but this time featured new details such as Palace laces. Over the years since the two have collaborated a number of times, with it becoming one of the brand’s most popular link ups.
In early 2014, Palace went further afield and ticked off another European brand – Adidas. The three stripes met the Tri-Ferg. The initial collab came when Adidas Skateboarding designed a Palace deck and shirt for skateboarder and Palace rider Benny Fairfax. In September of that year a fully fledged capsule collection was released, which played on Adidas’s football heritage. To coincide with the drop, Palace put out a video which featured Palace founder Lev Tanju, Benny Fairfax, Blondey McCoy and Fergus ‘Fergadelic’ Purcell.
Palace has also collaborated with, quite surprisingly, the Tate Modern. Lev Tanju was invited by the gallery to experiment with some of the art works on display and he created a new series of Palace skate decks. The result was a collection of three decks, although they were never fully released. The creative work was put on in the gallery and that’s all that happened with regards to its release.
In 2015, Palace teamed up with the New York-based Bronze 56K skate team and the result was a collection of Tri-Ferg T-shirts and skate decks, all featuring graphics designed by Shawn Powers.
Palace is a skating brand at its heart, and so skateboards are central to its ethos. In 2011, the brand won the European Skateboard Brand of the Year as result of its elite skate team. This consists of prominent skaters like Lucien Clarke, Chewy Cannon, Olly Todd, Rory Milanes, Benny Fairfax, Danny Brady and Blondey McCoy. These are some of the best Palace skateboarders of all time and have started with the brand since day one. Each season Palace will put out a new line of decks coinciding with its collections of apparel and footwear.
Palace Skateboards: Everything You Need to Know
- Palace was founded in 2009 by Lev Tanju in London.
- It focuses on skate wear with heavy Nineties and pop culture influences.
- The first store came in 2015 in Brewer Street, Soho.
- Collaborations have included Adidas Originals, Umbro, Reebok Classics and the Tate Modern.
- The Palace logo, the Tri Ferg, was created by Fergus Percull and is a take on Oscar Reutersvärd’s Penrose Triangle.
On That Note
Since 2009 Palace Skateboards has gained a serious amount of momentum and is now widely respected as one of the best streetwear brands on the planet. Sitting alongside the likes of Supreme, it is now so hyped that buying pieces from its latests collections is near impossible. We don’t expect this to change anytime soon and, with a rich history and probably future in collaborations, we expect the London-based brand to just keep getting bigger and bigger.