Au Revoir, Cliché
We were sad to hear that Cliché Skateboards will be no more as of this winter.
While Flip brought European skateboarding to us in the States, it was Cliché that brought us to Europe – both through its videos and the plane tickets to Barcelona we’d eventually buy after watching said videos. In recent years we were never quite sure what was up (what did this have to do with the Gypsy Tours? Anything?), but Cliché still gave us a ton of great skating to look back on.
Europa has some great footage (including a part from a post-Mad Circle, pre-era of obscurity Pontus Alv, along with lots of windpants & Koston 2s), but Bon Appetit is really where we got to know the brand. This is the video where we got our first look at Lucas Puig (which is more than enough to make it a must-watch), the video where we got to see the many of the plaza spots with perfect ground that Europe seems to have in every city, and the first time we saw someone pull off skating to Frank Zappa (Lucas as well). Also, Cale Nuske was a beast.
Cliché is also notable for pulling JB Gillet back to Europe after stints on established American companies like New Deal and Deca, where he starred in tech classics 2nd to None and Rodney vs Daewon Round 2. Teaming him back up with Cliché filmer Fred Mortagne for his Freedom Fries created one of our go-to 'watch to get hyped to skate' parts.
In it’s heyday, Cliché was comparable to the Girl & Chocolate camp. It was a company whose videos followed a Crailtap-type formula: they featured high quality, stylish skateboarding, were low on gimmicks, and didn't take themselves too seriously. This made for videos that are still fun to watch and have heavy replay value. Additionally, this ethos made the connection of JJ Rousseau, JB Gillet and Lucas Puig as part of the Lakai super squad in the Fully Flared days make so much sense.
Ultimately, it was the deviation from this formula that made the brand feel like something else entirely. At first, the changes were welcomed. Joey Brezinski was an interesting novelty when he came aboard in 2006 with the video Hello Jojo. His ledge / manual based approach to skating fit the bill just fine, not to mention him adding some levity to the Gypsy Tour. As great as it was to see the company growing, it was only a few years later in 2009 when Cliché was brought into the Dwindle camp that things slowly started to look not that chill.
As the team became stacked with American riders and the videos more focused on heavy tricks rather than the stylish European plaza skating we'd come to expect from them, Cliché's videos became less interesting.
Bon Voyage, which came out while under Dwindle in 2013, was an aptly named video. It was as if on some level it was signaling a ‘Goodbye’ to the old Cliché, and a ‘Hello’ to something different and, unfortunately, not nearly as special. While the skill of guys like Kevin Bradley and Daniel Espinoza is undeniable, they did little to help further the image of Cliché we had grown to know and respect over the years. This coupled with some questionable music and editing choices left us wondering what happened to a brand whose videos would regularly be watched 3+ times at first viewing.
Despite it’s crumbly ending, we've had a great time over the past couple weeks watching our favorite Cliché videos and remembering how much solid skateboarding the company gave us over the course of its 19-year run.