It was a sweaty, nervous evening in a dangerously overcrowded theater in East Village neighborhood of New York City. The room was meant to seat 500 people but with well over 650 people standing against the walls and sitting in the aisles, the air conditioning system couldn't keep up, and temperatures rose well above sweltering. It was the year 2007, the night of the world premiere of the "Static III" video and the crowd was growing restless. A crowd ranging from New York locals, to Josh Kalis to even rap artist Jeru the Damaja. And there, at the very front of the theater, sitting on a tiny merch table in front of the movie screen sat a small stack of t-shirts, with a strange screen print of Benjamin Franklin on the front and the unfamiliar name "Theories" scrawled across the top. A little paper sign reading "T-shirts $20" dangled from the edge of the table from a couple of feeble strips of scotch tape. It was the first official Theories shirt created just for the night of the premiere and when it was all said and done, we didn't sell a single damn one.
This is how the brand Theories got it's start, launched from the little known blog site known as Theories of Atlantis, an underground skateboarding and conspiracy web site, started 2 years earlier. The Theories of Atlantis site was started to showcase the progress of the Static III project as well as to help shed light on underground skateboarding and the indie skate video scene around the world. At the time of it's start, the indie scene was indeed quite underground, and the mainstream media options were giving that side of skateboarding very little attention. It might be hard to believe, but there were only a few underground brands at the time, including Ricky Oyola's Traffic Skateboards, Coda Skateboards, Danny Montoya's Listen Skateboards and a tiny brand JUST started by Jahmal Williams, called Hopps.
The Theories of Atlantis website slowly developed into a community of skaters from around the world. With smart phones and social media platforms like Instagram, not yet in existence, most skaters flocked to websites like the Slap Message Boards to communicate with like-minded peers. Communications which usually turned into dark-natured back and forth arguments. And eventually, some of that community splintered off and began circling together on the TOA comments section. It wasn't rare for the comments on a random TOA post to quickly stack into the hundreds. Especially if the infamous "Towel" was involved.
The Towel was one of literally dozens of pseudonyms for who was, at the time, a good friend of Josh Stewart's, Mister Bobby Puleo. Bobby originally commented under countless different bizarre names, with most TOA users not being aware of who he actually was. But once he started to use the name "The Towel" he decided to stick with it and it soon became obvious what personality was behind the pseudonym. The Towel began to levy heavy personal attacks against Josh Stewart, who blogged under the title "Theorizer", and the ensuing arguments blew up the comments section into a spectacle of epic proportions. Here, below, is just a tiny snippet from a battle that developed into over 400 comments on just one post:
With the advent of social media phenomenons like Instagram, the comments section of the TOA site have basically gone the way of the dodo. But along with the development of the website and the advent of newly birthed brands like Magenta Skateboards and Polar Skate Co, both close friends of the TOA crew, TOA slowly grew into something more than just a website, and over time, into the distribution company it is more widely known as today. But, many readers may never have known the true origins of the site and especially not the history of how Theories started as an actual brand. And it all started with this one weird t-shirt that didn't manage to sell a single piece when first unveiled way back in 2007 at the Static III premiere in NYC.
Needless to say, we are pretty stoked to be celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Theories Brand. And starting with the new Spring 17 line, Theories will be offering different graphics and collaborations paying homage to the history of Theories Brand and Theories of Atlantis. So to start things off for 2017, we worked with awesome UK artist, Cosme, to offer the first anniversary graphic, named "Decade". Paying heavy homage to the history of not only Theories as a brand, but also to the Static video series and the TheoriesofAtlantis website, this graphic is riddled with subtle references that will act as a sort of Where's Waldo experience for any long-running fan. From the Lee Harvey Oswald's Mannlicher Carcano rifle, to the infamous Towel, this graphic goes deep and is a pretty appropriate start to the Theories brand 10 year anniversary kick-off.
Do you remember any crazy stories from the early days of the TOA site? Were you one of the early commentators? Do you remember The Towel, Pennypacker, Psyched Floridian and Jura? Tell us some of your stories in the comments section and help us take a stroll down memory lane. And thanks so much to everyone for 10 years of support