They say a picture tells a thousand words...but to us as skaters, a t-shirt can do a whole lot more. Over the years we've made a ton of different tees all reflecting the time which they were designed....being broke, gettin paid, vert, booze, punk, TV, insults, trends etc - all got thrown into our tees in one way or another.
Before we can start with the history of SUD Skates, we need to back up a few years before...the Regency Ramp represented the first wave of skating to return after the death of skating in the early 80's...located at the Regency Hotel in Niagara Falls, locals such as Hack, Grant, Rodder and Son somehow convinced the owners to let them build a vert ramp next to the parking lot. That didn't last long, and the ramp was soon rebuilt behind Foy Chevrolet. The highlight of that ramp's existence were the "Skate Bash's"..the t-shirt above was the last bash before that ramp came down. Pretty sure it was designed by Hack in 1986
Back then the only shops selling skate stuff were the Shoe Tree and Patrick Bros...but the stuff was all out-dated garbage. Across the river in Orchard Park, NY was a shop called Big Bob's...his shop had all the new shit..at 1/2 what we were paying for the old stuff back home. Big Bob ruled - he even had a vert ramp in the alley out back.
With the death of the Foy Ramp in 1986, we started looking for a spot to build our own vert ramp down in St Catharines...but insurance fears had everyone telling us no way. We knew about a spot on the escarpment near our house that had a level area. We checked it out - poured some footings and started building. Located on Hydro property hidden away in the woods - it was soon dubbed the Hydro Ramp and it was up and skateable by the fall of 1986. At the end of a long session, someone would show up with a case of beer. Beers were drank and runs were taken...until the beer was gone, or somene got hurt. This part of the session was called a "Sud Skate"...and always preceeded the trip downtown to Jerry's Alley. While away at school - all I could concentrate on was coming home on weekends to skate the new ramp...and I started hand painting my own shirts. Back then tees were all a surf style - big pic on the back, small corp logo on the front...with the backs finished I needed a corpo style name for the front...and the first Sud Skates Inc was born....
During the summer of 1987, the popularity of the Hydro Ramp was huge...people came from all over to skate it - most never found it. By the end of the summer we put on a fresh layer of ply and threw our first 'invitation only' Skate Bash.
While away in school, the auto industry was taking a huge hit, and I had no co-op job to go to. I applied for a $3000 Student Venture Loan to start my own summer business, and needing a name for the new skateshop - SUD Skates seemed the perfect choice. We opened in May 1988, and Danny Z screen printed our first official t-shirt shown above. (Matching the store sign he made for us)
During the 1st year we sold a TON of shop tees - as many as Danny Z could make! Two of his designs above - screened and air-brushed on the left, and one of our most popular logo's ever on the right. Note the infamous "skater owned + operated" stamp.
1988 was also the year we had our first "Team" shirt - only team-riders could get one. We ripped off one of the most popular logo's that year "Vision Street Wear" and eventually got in a lot of shit at a bmx contest in Waterloo the following year (Vision big-wigs were there and saw me sneak on the vert ramp wearing mine). We got a cool cease and desist letter...when I find it I'll post it up. L-R: Joe Wing, Sean Quinn, Trevor Lumley, Rob Strauss, Meredith Nelson, Sean Lavoy and Hack
More Danny Z designs - multi-pull bleeds were unheard of back then - and these turned out bad-ass
During the summer of '89 we had our 1st pro demo - Santa Cruz riders Jason Jesse and Jeff Kendall skated the Cage Ramp out front of the old shop, and later Massebrooke at GRD's house (it was the Hydro Ramp cut down). Fishlip's Perry Gladstone designed this tee - and the demo also featured Mike Pragnell and Trevor Amodeo
In 1990 we had our first big skate event (not counting the Pit Contests!) at Crystal Beach amusement park. Street Attack attracted skaters from all over - even pro vert skaters that entered amatuer street! I designed the t-shirt above. The ballroom floor ended up getting wrecked, and the park sued us for $10,000 to repair the floor. Luckliy the park went under the next year. Either way, the promoter took all the dough and the park kept all our ramps...but it was a fun-ass event!
In 1991 we came up with a new logo - borrowing from the still popular graffiti style on the fonts...and the fact that a competing shop in town "Footloose" was telling parents we were a bunch of dirty, drunken drug addicts (which we resented - we didn't do drugs)...but the scratched up board became our image - skaters that actually skated. Another trend at the time was Canada pride...it came from the success of Canadians turning pro, but also the popularity of canadian snowboarders, namely Sean Kearns and the Whiskey videos.
A tribute to our good friends at Footloose showed up in this t-shirt above..the image was taken from a Leons furniture add (the owner) but everyone knew who it was supposed to portray. Manufactured by a bogus company named D-Grade, they sold out in about 2 weeks. Out of all the shops that claimed they would "put us outta business" Footloose tried the hardest, and in retrospect the above tee pretty much sums up why they failed.
The whole Canada pride thing spilled over to the popularity of skating as an anti-sport borrowing heavily from traditional sports. Deck graphics started biting the NFL and NBA..so we bit our fave mainstream sport - hockey. It was our first stab at embroidery and it was a fave logo circa 1991
1992 was the year of the Olympic "Dream Team" where the US sent MJ, Magic, Sir Charles et all to crush everyone in Barcelona. There was a Champions factory outlet in Niagara Falls, NY where we bought Team USA blanks for $5 a pop...some creative artwork produced our most popular SUD piece of all time. The reference to Old English 40 (oz) malt liquor - a huge trend at the time (you can see the bottles inside the star) was an added bonus. Touring pro's bought the jersey and were pic'd in the mags wearing it (JTMR) and tons of bands wore it onstage (and still do "the Carryouts"). Look for a throwback during our 20 yr anniversary next year.
As snowboarding became more popular, we added the snow logo to our Dream Team theme. Offered in a ton of different colors - the above example was a tribute to Charles Barkly's team at the time...the Phoenix Suns.
More Canada themed product - starting with our first real flexfit cap (only the skate co's had em at the time) and a clean logo that bit the old etnies logo (kickflip)...folowed by another flag logo.
I'm still missing a bunch of team tees, but this one came out around 1997....using the famous (in Canada) CCM logo ....only available to team riders...using the traditional team sport theme with a twist was still popular
1998 - March Break Madness was our annual answer to all the "rich kids" that always got to go somewhere warm. We put on a whole week of events capped off by a mini ramp competition. The above tee was given to everyone that participated. South Park was huge at the time and we used Kenny as our tribute the the show (that still rules)
Over the years we had a ton of pro demo's roll through, and they always gave out free shwagg at every stop. Blind did a cross country tour with a custom tour tee, so we decided it would be a great idea to make our own tee for the Tum Yeto tour. We put every tour stop on the back concert tour style and we gave away the shirts for free. Not sure how many of those shops are still around, but I was at On Deck last week and Trevor still has his tee hanging on the wall.
By 1998 the whole Punk thing was coming back, and happily for me we could design up some punk themed tees. Also, as shops began to drop off, being in our 11th year became something to brag about...so we revisited incorporating that status in our tees, stickers etc.
1996 is when I built my first lowrider - and the above Old English type font was my first stab at throwing some lolo style into the shirts. Unfortunately, everyone was still pretty yo'd out at the time, and this shirt was pretty much a failure! Note the first use of our 1988 established date. The flexfit, on the other hand - sold like crazy - go figure!
In 1999 we released this free shirt during the March Break Madness. Black Flag, my fave band all-time became my fave t-shirt design all-time. Next to our basketball jerseys, this is the most requested SUD shirt we've ever put out.
2001 - probably our only tribute to the Simpsons - another free March Break Madness tee we gave out
1999 - we opened a 2nd shop in Niagara Falls and documented it on these two new tees - one a clean "corporate logo" ..the other a bite off the Sex Pistols (another free March Break Madness tee). We kept the shop open till 2006 but got tired of dealing with a sporting goods shop that gave away all of the same product as us - at cost. Little did we know they would go bankrupt later that year - owing over $7 million!!
Our weekly Snowboard Bus to Kissing Bridge was a shop favourite...we closed early every Thursday so everyone could go ride. Our good friends down at Ski Pro Shop told everyone our bus sucked cause a) it went to KB instead of super-awesome Holiday Valley and b) it was basically a booze cruise. The free give-away shirt above said it all.
2004 - more Sex Pistols' inspired logo
2003 - nice clean University inspired piece thats been used on everything from stickers, to signs, to website ...to one of our most poular tees to date
2005 was a great year in our history, we were able to see years of hard work and dedication pay off - in the form of 2 skateparks THE SAME YEAR! As the only shop that helped out with the development of the NF park, we were bumbed they let everyone jump on the bandwagon once the park got approved. While we watched them all fall all over themselves trying to make $$$ off the grand opening, we donated a ton of product, gave away over a 100 hotdogs and 200 of these limited edition tees that day.
Later that year in September, the park developers did the same thing to us and let everyone jump on the make money off the park bandwagon....so we did the same thing at the St Catharines grand opening day (except hotdogs - no giving away allowed). Yeah this LTD edition t-shirt was the same as the Fall's one, but hell, its a different color...and it was free!!
March Break Madness tee from 2007 - a blend of an old corporate logo with a nice little sequence shot thrown in for good measure!
Yeah, we're missing a bunch of holes here - if you have any SUD tees you'd like to contribute, please email pics to firstname.lastname@example.org - anything we use we'll give you full credit in the description below.