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beauty is pop culture // sex rules the world 

  • Kaeshelle Rianne

Adidas Originals x Flipper’s are making intergenerational parties a thing. You had to be there.

Updated: Feb 1

Credit: Chaka Khan (stage landscape) – Danika Magdelena

When Adidas and Flipper’s combined forces, they drew the blueprint – rollerskating has the potential to inspire people of all ages and this is just the beginning.

The iconic Adidas Originals trefoil hangs from the ceiling like a glittery disco ball while the London Community Gospel Choir adorned in three-striped tracksuits sing for an audience rolling on eight wheels. The mixed-motion performance by rollerskaters and dancers leaves the crowd speechless until Chaka Khan graces the stage with “I’m Every Woman”. No one can resist singing those high notes.

This was no ordinary nod to 70s history or collection launch attended by the likes of Rita Ora and Taika Waititi. With this multifaceted work of art, Adidas and Flipper’s marked the cultural timeline, putting respect on rollerskating – and more importantly, the London scene’s name. Naturally, brands are always devising strategies to move with trends. But serious culture marketing requires tact, particularly when no-nonsense Gen Z consumers are shaping the future of commerce.

Sports shift and evolve along cultural timelines. The biggest ones are often plagued by youth, too quickly mourning its loss. In 2022, tennis fans were devastated when 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams left the sport. Despite Lebron James explaining he’s “got a lot left”, incessant chatter about his retirement on X is getting noisier – and nastier – as the 2023–24 NBA season progresses.

When rollerskating enters the chat, it brings an alternative perspective, bridging the age gap. As long as you aspire to Megan’s knees, Gen Alpha (with parental guidance), boomers and beyond are welcome at the rink, in parks and on the streets – it's an intergenerational affair.

As seasoned performer Nadia O’Garro explains: “Skating is full of DJs, videographers, photographers, performers, dancers, you name it, they’re there. You’ve got grandmothers, great-grandmothers, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins. There are friends, skate baes, besties, coaches and teachers. It consists of all these things – a whole business in and of itself.”

This collective creativity came to the fore in the event because Adidas and Flipper’s understood the assignment: community plus a well-equipped environment equals opportunities for every skater to show up and show out.

Fellow performer Tyreece Boyce, co-star of the epic short Flipper’s Skate Heist, says, “You can learn so much. It doesn't matter what generation you come from, Nadia, for example, is an OG. Sometimes she might ask ‘Oh, how did you do that?’ and it's like, ‘Wait, I'm just a baby. [...] But there's so much that she's taught me and helped to shape the skater I am.”

Still, envisioning the UK rollerskating scene as a monolith would be a grave mistake. Among the distinct styles and regular spots, there’s an element of subculture volatility now supercharged by rapidly growing, colliding communities and the threat of gatekeeping. “People forget that house and hip-hop were niche […] Not to say skating should become mainstream, but it’s becoming like that because of the social media attention. I think it needs more documentation and more understanding,” says Nadia. Without established institutions, formal systems or consistent funding, everything is all the more unpredictable.

Culture doesn’t live in a vacuum and neither does rollerskating, which is inextricably tied to music. With its gritty undertones, the London scene brought about a street-based, backwards-facing, speed style often executed to high BPM jungle records. Nadia sees it as reminiscent of grime’s trajectory. She says, “When it was Dizzee Rascal’s time, grime was always there, but like we say, it was a subculture. Now look at what grime has become today.” It’s not just breaking in from the margins but what a community layered with multiple generations can do for others. She adds, “I feel like skating often doesn't get the respect it deserves [...] skaters started from young and grew up in the scene. They could have still been hanging out with street kids instead they were learning how to skate backwards”.

As for brand alignment, with Adidas Originals the throughline is seamless. 1970 marks the arrival of the Superstar, a shoe that embodies timelessness like rollerskate moves cross the Atlantic and pass through the generations. Choreographer Aaron Bryan embraced the skaters as experts in their craft, making space for their signature moves. Between Roll Tru Harrison Peterkin’s flips, Nadia’s matrix manoeuvre and Jack Matthew’s cheeky nutmeg, these decades-in-the-making moves add authentic flair.

From Run DMC to Beyoncé and Bad Bunny, Adidas Originals consistently turn the wheels of fashion nostalgia via music; collaborations with Flipper’s continue the trend. In September, Founder Liberty Ross, Usher and friends celebrated 50 years of hip-hop at New York’s Rockefeller Center. Partnering again for this 70s collection, described as “spectacular” in Vogue Italia, Flipper’s and Adidas organised a street skate that ended inside the Adidas store.

Credit: Liberty Ross – Jesse Olu Ogunbanjo

To-be-expected rain grounded the stunt in London realness. “We were rolling with a speaker, some people had GoPros attached to their heads and others held Insta 360s,” explains Tyreece. In the absence of community-run indoor spaces and rinks, street skating was standard practice. “Before Flipper’s opened, there was Roller Nation, but the London skate scene was mostly rough, outside, rainy and windy. Then there were the car parks, they’d build up a sense of community. You can see how big we are even though we don't have a lot of resources,” he adds.

Watch the street skate on Flipper’s Instagram here.

Credit: Street Skate – Jesse Olu Ogunbanjo

Along with social media dance trends and viral videos, take Berlin’s twirling Oumi Janta or London’s very own speedy sensation Rianna Linton, the number of people rollerskating grew exponentially, so much so that British Vogue dubbed 2020 “The Summer of Rollerskating”. The scene had to adapt quickly, absorbing everyone into the fold. For communities to become a long-lasting cultural force, sustainable growth is the only option to avoid losing generational crossover and brand cannibalisation. Whenever peaks are too high in any market, low troughs lurk around the corner.

When communities are invited to the table, commercial interests can be aligned beyond a surface level to lasting effect – that’s the takeaway. In 2021, grime artist Ghetts released garage-tinged romance “Good Hearts” set in Roller Nation. The trailer of Daniel Kaluuya’s directorial debut The Kitchen, starring fellow rapper Kano, promises to showcase more talented rollerskaters, streaming on Netflix on 19 January 2024.

By holding space for multiple sociocultural markers (i.e. age, ethnic groups and music preferences), rollerskating’s vertical and horizontal commercial potential is widespread. And although these things often take time, the leap from the Flipper’s collection in the flagship store to a dedicated rollerskating tab on the three-striped brand’s website doesn’t feel too far – “Impossible is nothing,” they say.

Are you passionate about exploring the intricate worlds of beauty, sex, wellness and culture ? Do you belong to a marginalised community and have unique perspectives and stories to share? If so, Nightstand Service is eagerly seeking contributing writers like you! Get in touch:


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