2016 saw the deaths of an unusually long list of political titans, sports icons, famous musicians and actors. There was the boxer nicknamed The Greatest but most know his by the name of Mohammed Ali, the musician known as Price, the revolutionary leader saluted as El Comandante, pop star George Michael and many others. The talented skater, model and designer, Dylan Rieder has joined the greats as he passed away at just 28 years old.

When the news broke out of the death of pro skater and model Dylan Rieder many, well-respected personalities sent a torrent of tributes expressing their emotions. “He had style and grace that most of us can only wish for,” legend Tony Hawk spoke of the beloved skater. “You were my favourite, for just being you. I love you and I’ll miss you deeply!” said pro skater Alex Olson. “One of the kindest, most down to down, incredible human beings I have ever encountered,” said Cara Delevingne, with whom Dylan once modelled. English singer, songwriter and actor, Ozzy Osbourne also had kind words to share: “One of the most talented and brave men. I feel blessed to have known you.” Longtime best friend, mentor and manager Mark Oblow says Rieder died peacefully, surrounded by family and the over 50 friends that flew in from around the country to be with him at City of Hope, a cancer treatment and research centre, in his final moments.

Rieder’s death, after two-year battle with leukaemia, can be considered the biggest catastrophic loss for skateboarding; extreme sport which was once associated as a pseudo-sport purely for social outcasts and rejects. Dylan’s breakthrough moment took place in 2006 when he was featured in “A Time To Shine“. Only a couple of years later, handsome skaters such as Theotis
Beasly, Shane O’Neill and Alex Olson acquired sponsorship deals from sportswear specialists such as Nike and Adidas who focused their attention on the talents and later helped them become teen pinups.

 

Dylan who grew up in Westminster, California and turned pro around 18 went on a mission to combine high fashion and skateboarding. It quickly gained the counter-culture appeal as skaters often tend to be lanky, tall and very good looking, sheer characteristics of Rieder. He pissed off many fanatics along the way as old-school skaters often rejected the idea of commercialised skate world and its association with fashion was a widely rejected issue. However, as always, Dylan’s attitude helped him get through it, and he became quite the rebel in the culture as he simply didn’t give a fuck about other people’s opinions. The argument can continue as skateboarding was largely born from poor people whose skateboards fashioned out of scraps of wood and repurposed roller-skates by poor kids in the 40s and 50s. Skateboarding flourished in the slums of Southern California and the trendiness of skating has in fact caused the price of skate clothes, shoes and equipment to become more expensive, however the sponsorship funds pumped into the sport not only revolutionised it but also allowed people like Rieder become a worldwide phenomenon inspiring young skaters.

He was often seen with his vest or t-shirt tucked into a pair of slim-fit jeans. He was a true iconoclast who didn’t go by anyone’s rules and created his own of what a skater was supposed to look like. His style was effortless and he claimed to have never really practised for any of the official events such as the skateboarding Street League and yet he was able to succeed, sheerly because of his immense, natural talent which cannot be thought.

He crossed over as a model for major labels like DKNY and Alexander Wang and won hearts of fashion writers with a soft spot for all the sweaty, careless skaters in “cool clothes”.

Skateboarding has blown up so much that even modelling agencies are currently putting out their own “skate videos” for promotional purposes. We all know Rieder amongst few others (Ben Nordberg, Alex Olson and few others) were the catalysts for this explosion. Fashion is highly associated with skateboarding now, from the Thrasher T-Shirts and hoodies (a version of which appeared in the fall 2015 Vetements collection) to the ripped-up Vans. Dylan Rieder will continue to be a tremendous icon and influence on the visual culture of skating.