I launched Thames when I was very young. I must have been. Either that or it wasn’t much of a launch… though, come to think of it, there’s no reason why both of those statements can’t simultaneously be true. Anyway, Thames has been a part of my life for the part of my life that my humble hippocampus deems worthy of remembering, and then some.
I was, I’m told, one of those children who like drawing cartoons as much as they like watching them. If there’s a pinpointable, pivotal moment at which the type of art that suits skateboards succeeded the type that suits screens as my principal source of aesthetic inspiration, it’s the moment I first set foot in Slam City Skates. Thinking about it now, the words ‘sensory’ and ‘overload’ spring to mind. If you could see that vast and varied board wall, that altar of a display cabinet, slapdashedly adorned with stickers, and that ceiling with thirty years or more’s worth of names, epigrams and crude illustrations etched into and scribbled upon it through my 12-year-old eyes, or through your own eyes, for that matter, however old they may be, you’d no doubt understand — alas, the shop has long since closed.
So when, in 2013, the above began to carry my products, I was proud. Again with the pinpointing: I’d say it was at this moment I first realised that my GCSE art project was a brand, and vice versa. I was then on the brink of 16.
A little under a year later, I partnered with Palace Skateboards. Thames did, I mean; I had already been skating and — believe it or not — modelling for the brand for a couple of years. I tend to think of the chapter that ensued as Thames’s adolescent years — growing in no particular direction other than up. In 2019, aged 21, for reasons we haven’t the time to get into, I brought the partnership to a close and the business with it.
Fast forward to that September and you’ll see me, Blondey, putting the finishing touches on my first collaboration with adidas and contemplating who or what ought to host it. My own website –– from which I had been selling my art and art merchandise –– was the obvious answer, but something stopped me from seeing it as the right one: Thames. I knew that a fresh start felt like the move. I also knew that the decision to actually make it was one that would require careful deliberation. I asked myself what the point would be and arrived at three intrinsically-linked answers: firstly, to connect with people; secondly, to get my creative fix; and thirdly, to represent British skateboarding on the world stage in a fresh and unhackneyed way.
Looking out the window, pondering point three, I was reminded of something I’d heard of Dame Vivienne Westwood saying in the early ’80s, once Punk had gone off the boil: that the most subversive thing a man could do at that time was wear a suit and tie. Well, I don’t know if those words rang true when she supposedly said them –– I wasn’t nearly alive yet –– but it struck me that they did in 2019, and that if Thames Phase Trois, A.K.A. THAMES MMXX., were to be inspired by them, it’d have a place in the real world and my own for as long as this were the case.
It is, at the time of writing, the 2nd of January 2022, and I’m pleased to say, dear reader, that this is still very much the case.
FOUNDER AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR
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