Continuing BasementApproved's visitation to the world's most influential independent stores, we get familiar with revered Baddest skate store in Brixton.
Serving as a hub for the South-London skate scene, Brixton Baddest Skateshop is just a stone’s throw away from the iconic Brixton Beach skatepark. Providing south with a much needed dose of authenticity to a skate scene with roots dating back to the 1960s, Baddest saw a gap and kick-flipped into it.
We paid the Baddest gang a visit, taking a look at the extensive selection of local skater-owned brands on their roster, and to talk about how the skate shop came to be and why London’s skate culture is so special, especially south of the river bank.
When and Why did you open Brixton's Baddest Skateshop?
Baddest Skateshop opened its doors in July 2015 out the back of a record store inside a shipping container in Brixton. We started Baddest Skateshop because Brixton has a rich skate scene and history as the world renowned park, Brixton Beach, has been around since the late 60s, always attracting local and foreign skateboarders to its quirky unconventional concrete waves. Whilst it has been a hub for South-London skateboarders for years, it has never had a core skate shop close by. The closest was a bike store that sold a few skateboard parts or you would have to travel into Covent Garden to go to a proper skate shop. So in 2015 we saw an opportunity to start a store somewhere very close by with very low rent that we could provide the locals with skateboards. We knew from being local skateboarders ourselves that the scene was big enough to support the store.
Tell us a bit about the store?
Almost 6 years down the line and Baddest Skateshop has moved out of the tiny tin can into a full sized retail space with the skatepark in sight from the door. For the last 5 years we have been the only core shop south of the Thames so we have had customers coming from all over south London. We are still the only female run skateshop in the country, stocking over 120 decks on the wall of our favourite brands, a vital part of our ethos is to support local and skater owned brands that we love, carrying a number of local brands that are exclusive to Baddest Skateshop that have grown alongside and supported us. We have embedded ourselves so deeply into the fabric of South-London skateboard culture that you can’t think of Brixton without Baddest.
What do you love about Brixton?
Brixton is our home. It also happens to be, in our opinion, the greatest place in London. Brixton has always been a place for the mixing of cultures. From the arrival of the Windrush generation in the late 40s, the first “no colour bar dance” was held in Lambeth town hall in 1955 where West Indians and their white neighbours danced together. Brixton has also seen a lot of violence at the hands of the police and retaliation took form in some of the most famous riots in the country in 1985 and in 2015 due to police killings. Now Brixton faces gentrification and redevelopment causing the people that made Brixton unique and rich in culture to be moved further out of London. Brixton is strong and stands up in the face of the fascism.
Your in-house brand is now stocked in Selfridges - how did that come about?
Selfridges is probably the last place you would expect to see a core skate-shop set foot in. It’s an egregious symbol of excessive wealth and consumerism. That being said, we have had a concession there for 3 years now. We had the opportunity to do so when they redeveloped the menswear section and erected a skate bowl. They were looking for a shop that could maybe legitimise what they were doing and maybe not make them look like clueless bandwagonists. We accepted, the exposure for us and the small brands we represent was worth the feeling of selling out. We are now able to pay 3 staff members from selling our own brand and other local skater owned brands. This has given us and the local brands the exposure that we might never have had if we were not in Selfridges. Our brand and the other small brands we carry have been worn by many celebrities and artists because of Selfridges so we are very grateful to be there.
What are your favourite skate brands coming out of the UK right now?
Our favorite brands are the skater owned brands we’ve been babbling on about for years. Palace, CTMY, Reup, Gulan, Cheese London, Always, Wayward, Passion, Sex, Serious Adult, JLB, Blast.
What sets London or even Brixton's skate scene apart?
London skateboarding is known around the world to be difficult, gritty spots, rough bricks and hard granite. This is true to some extent and people like Tom Knox really thrive in such conditions. But as the city gets redeveloped more marble ledges are appearing with smoother ground. Although the architecture is often purposefully anti-skateboarding, every now and then something pops up that is perfect for it….Then it often only takes a few months for the council or the private landowners to realise they have made something ideal for skateboarding and put skate stoppers all over it.
Thoughts on skateboarding making its debut at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year?
Stale competition, stacking as many points as you can. Hearing people who don’t skate talk about it sends shivers down my spin. I don’t personally care for it but if it gets the younger generation, especially more girls into it I’m happy.
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