Skater, designer, owner of Crenshaw Skate Club and Stanford student, Tobey McIntosh is on an absolute mission. Oh and he’s only 20 years old. Started from the skate community in Crenshaw, Los Angeles, 6 years ago, CSC is all over the place now. It’s actually hard to miss its fun, playful graphics at any skate park you go to. And it’s about to get even harder, with CSC collabing with FARFETCH for its Beat initiative that highlights some of the most exciting voices emerging in fashion.
For its 009 collection, FARFETCH Beat X Crenshaw Skate Club have created a 22-piece unisex collection with all the skate classics, exclusive to FARFETCH and Browns. You’ve got your oversized denims, your classic graphic tees, some button-up shirts, and of course 4 different skate decks, all decorated with CSC style graphics. The collection is launching today in stores and online, but it’s this Friday that Tobey and FARFETCH are taking over BaySixty6 in West London, inviting Tobey’s own favourite artists and some local skaters. We caught up with Tobey today to talk about how he started CSC at just 14, the evolution of the cult brand and collabing with FARFETCH.
Hey Tobey? How are you today? Can you quickly introduce yourself and Crenshaw Skate club to our readers?
What’s up, I’m Tobey. I’m from South Central Los Angeles and I am currently a sophomore at Stanford University. I started Crenshaw Skate Club in 2017 because when I grew up skating I rarely ever saw anyone who looked like me and my friends in skate videos and skate magazines. So, I wanted to create something that represented us in the skate industry.
Let’s start from the beginning. How did you first get into skating?
When I was a kid I would always be on Fairfax and hang around all of the stores. I would always go into Supreme and watch the skate videos that played in the store and that really inspired me to want to skate. I would always talk to the guys who worked there and saw them as my big brothers in a way. But, the person I grew closest to was Spoety. He was also from South Central and he treated me like I was his little brother. One day I was talking to him at the shop and told him that I really wanted to start skating. Then, on that day he gave me my first complete skateboard and I started skating. And I’ve been skating ever since.
I think what’s most impressive about you is that you started Crenshaw Skate Club at age 14, which is super young to start your own brand. Tell me a bit about that time – were you visiting factories to make your tees? Did you sell any or were you giving them all out to your friends?
When I first started CSC I wasn’t selling anything. I spent all the money I had saved up to make 20 shirts. I printed the shirts at a local print shop called Sunday Print CO. They were very patient with me and took drawings from a piece of paper and scanned them and made them into vector files for me. Print shops don’t usually do that so I really appreciate them doing that for me. I gave all the tees away to my friends. My main goal was for all of us to wear the same shirt when we went out skating. People would see us in the tees and ask how they could buy them, but I wasn’t selling them at the time. The tees were something for my friends and I to wear while we skated and to represent ourselves.
It didn’t take long until everyone wanted a piece of CSC, with Supreme becoming your first ever retailer, which is literally insane (and your pieces instantly selling out, even more insane). How did that even happen?
It all happened very naturally. Before I started selling my shirts in Supreme, I would walk up and down Fairfax, Melrose, and La Brea in LA every weekend with 100 stickers in my pocket and I wouldn’t go home until I passed them out. One day as I was making my rounds I went into Supreme to talk to my friends that worked there. And he said that he would give me the email to the wholesale buyer for the store. I sent an email to the buyer and a couple days later they placed an order for 48 shirts. At the time that was a lot of shirts for me and I had to scramble to find money to make the shirts. Finally, I got the shirts made and delivered them. The shirts did really well at the store and they kept placing reorders. Seeing how well they sold at Supreme inspired me to make my own website and shift CSC into a brand.
Now Crenshaw Skate Club has taken a life of its own, with Justin Bieber being spotted repping it, collabing with the Los Angeles Clippers. Was this success something you ever expected? Something you were striving for?
My goal when I started CSC was to represent inner-city skaters. Collaborations have given me the ability to do so on a larger scale and spread CSC’s message to a wider audience. But, when I first started meeting with brands it was not about products. When I got my first meeting with Nike, I did not ask them to work on a shoe or a clothing capsule. Rather I wanted to work with Nike to do a shoe drive at my local YMCA. Being able to use partnerships with brands to uplift my community is important to me. It’s dope to make that people enjoy, but also having projects make a real-life impact is what I strive to do. When I started CSC I couldn’t have imagined it being where it is today. But, I am so grateful to be in the position to collaborate with these brands and achieve my childhood dreams such as working with my favourite basketball team (LA Clippers).
At this point, and for a while now, CSC has become an industry-approved brand, from your collabs to your link ups with the likes of Nigo when you were only 17. Have you received a piece of advice from an industry person (fashion or skateboarding) that has stuck with you? What was it and who was it from?
A piece of advice that has stuck with me throughout my journey is some advice I got from Salehe Bembury. He told me that everyone can make “cool” products but being able to tell a story through products is what will set you apart.
And now, you’ve got a collaboration with FARFETCH, one of the biggest luxury retailers out there, as part of its Beat initiative. How did that happen?
The collaboration with Browns for FARFETCH Beat came about very organically. I was connected with Browns via an intro email, and then met them via Zoom. I connected with them very naturally on Zoom and I knew instantly that it would be amazing to work with them. From there, we discussed various ways we could work together and landed on doing an exclusive cut-and-sew collection for Browns and FARFETCH.
Your collection has tees, jeans and skate decks with fun graphics on them that almost have a childhood-like quality to them. Walk me through the pieces and the design process behind them.
I wanted to include some items with fun graphics on them to represent some of the first items CSC made. I started CSC when I was 14 and a lot of the earlier tees had heavy and colourful graphics. So, I wanted to include these in my first cut and sew collection to symbolise that even though the brand is evolving we will never forget our roots.
Skater, designer, brand owner, Stanford student. What else are you trying to add to your plate?
As of now, I don’t know yet. But we will see what the future has in store.
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