Diamond Supply Co. is conquering the West ! The American empire created by Nick Tershay is expanding in Europe. The iconic skateboarding label bridges the three incredibly influential worlds of skateboarding, streetwear and music, and as his fanbase keeps growing, the brand is opening EMEA headquarters in Barcelona.
We met him a few hours before his birthday party at Les Bains to talk about his teens during the golden age of skateboarding, his advice to the young generation of designers, and his thoughts about the Supreme / Louis Vuitton collaboration.
How was it to grow up in the golden age of skateboarding?
I grew up in the street skating era, which is really cool. All of the tricks that you see today were invented back then. It’s interesting to see skateboarding and street culture influencing fashion and mainstream culture cause a lot of it, from sneakers to apparel, came from the New York and San Francisco skate scene. That was a crazy time. Skateboarding in the 70s and the 80s was mainly from white surf culture but when street skating started to become popular, it brought kids from the street. Black kids, Mexican kids, Asian kids, white kids they were all skateboarding together. It just brought in all of these different cultures to skateboarding. It was an amazing time. I grew up watching the street culture evolution from hip-hop, to punk rock, to skateboarding.
How has Diamond Supply Co. started?
I started Diamond as a skateboarding hardware company. I had an idea to create a new innovative skateboard bolt and I also wanted to create a skate team with all of my friends. It was like a family which really drew people to Diamond in the beginning. The products we were making were different cause the others were making surf skate looks. From the beginning, people didn’t know what to think about Diamond cause it was so different.
And this difference made your brand successful during twenty years.
Yeah I think so cause people were like « Diamond is a skate company but it looks like it could be like some streetwear company ». It was just different. It feels like we’ve always been in our lane, doing our own thing, we’ve always had a distinctive style.
In this oversaturated market of streetwear brands, what kind of advice would you give to a young guy who wants to start up a brand in 2017?
I think there’s a lot of rooms for brands, but they have to be innovative and stand out from what other people are doing. You can’t come out and make the same stuff as everybody. You have to come out with different stuff and people will notice it they’ll be like « what is that? It’s amazing it’s different ». If it looks like everyone else, noone’s gonna care.
You were very involved in the online forums in the early days of your brand. How important were the forums for the development of Diamond Supply Co.?
I’ve always been engaged with our customers and fans. From the early days, I was the only designer for Diamond for the first ten years, from products to catalogues to packaging. If I wasn’t on my computer designing, I was on forums talking to kids. So I was basically on my computer 24 hours a day! I would design something then post it on the forums and the Diamond fans would tell me if they liked it. I built a community through the forums. People used to ask me « How do you sell out all of your stuff? How do people know about Diamond? » It’s because we have this community online of kids that I talk to every day, they’re like my friends, I’ve even hired some of them. It helped a lot to be part of a community, it was a great way to build the brand.
Tell me about your relationship with music, you have collaborated with names like Travis Scott, the Beatles…
The name was just « Diamond » back in the day, and DJs and rappers really liked our stuff. I’ve always been into music. I did a lot of collaborations with people like Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross, P.Diddy. I just became friend with everybody. I guess I’m part of the music community so it was natural to collaborate with them.
What are your influences?
Music, skateboarding, Fashion in general. I just design what I like, I wouldn’t design something I wouldn’t wear myself. I don’t make stuff because it’s trendy at the time. « Oh you gotta make this cause this is what everybody is wearing right now », so, like what? If I don’t like it, I’m not gonna make it. I’m influenced by a lot of stuff, architecture and arts obviously. What I do is art I guess, I make things. I grew up being influenced by everything from arts to skateboarding to music.
What’s the future of Diamond Supply Co.?
Continuing what we’re doing, expanding more in the Europe, widening our distribution to different markets. Just trying to design cool stuff. I just like making new stuff and that’s what I’ve always done. We opened a new office in Barcelona because it was really hard for years to ship in Europe. We had to sell to our distributors, the distributors would sell it to the stores, the margins were crap, so we couldn’t really make money doing that in that way. By the time it made it to Europe our prices would be super expensive. Now we’re doing our own distribution, we ship directly to the shops so it’s more affordable for our customers.
What do you think of the Supreme / Louis Vuitton collaboration?
It’s amazing. I’ve actually bought a lot of Louis Vuitton stuff in the past, so I guess I’m one of the VIP customers. They’re selling it to the VIP customers first so I was like « Oh I think I’m gonna buy the whole collection it’s so amazing! ». I think it’s great for the culture. When I first heard about it I thought it would be just a small collection but they came out with a full collection, I think it’s amazing. I think it’s the craziest thing to happen to a brand from our culture, with an iconic fashion brand like Louis Vuitton, it’s great. They’ve made coats, leathers trench coats, crocodile bomber jackets, trunks. I need the big trunks! Someone posted a picture of it, and I was like « I need to get that thing that’s insane ». Shoutout to Supreme.
But some skaters hated the collaboration, how do you explain this ?
Times have changed. Back in the day, as a skateboarder, if a celebrity wore your brand you would think that sucked. But now it’s different. With a brand like Supreme, even Thrasher magazine, everywhere you go you see a lot of people wearing their stuff. It’s because celebrities wear it. And now kids only buy stuff if they see celebrities wearing it. Back in the day if you would see a celebrity wearing it, you wouldn’t like it. So it’s completely flipped. The new generation is way different to when I was younger, it’s weird. Something like this Supreme / Louis Vuitton collaboration make sense now.