London-based Lucien Clarke has balanced a pro skateboarding career with high fashion modeling, something unthinkable only a decade ago. Following his most recent appearance on Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton runway, we caught up with the Palace team member to explore his history, style, and the impact of today’s creative culture on skateboarding.
Professional skateboarder Lucien Clarke is emblematic of a wider paradigm shift. On the skate side, the Kingston, Jamaica-born 31-year-old rides for London tearaways Palace Skateboards. But his endeavors in fashion are what mark him out as symbolic of a greater cultural change. Art, music, film, and fashion are becoming younger, more diverse, less traditional. This changing environment encourages cross-pollination, with guys like Clarke coming to embody how freely these worlds now commingle.
This shift positions creators with a background in skateboarding to become involved in mediums previously deemed inaccessible. For Clarke, that has meant more than just having a signature skateboard or sneaker. He’s worked with esteemed photographers David Sims, Alasdair McLellan, and Juergen Teller, and modeled in Gucci and Ralph Lauren. He’s walked Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton runway twice. And all while pursuing his own work in photography and video direction.
“When I first started skating, none of my mates were into that shit at all,” Clarke explains. “I’d just go the Albert Memorial [in Kensington Gardens] with my stepdad every single day in my sandals until someone was like, ‘You need some actual supportive skate shoes, brudda.’ After a little while, people told me there were much better spots to skate closer to mine, like Vicky benches and Southbank. That’s where I really started meeting all the close dear friends I know today.”
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