Why Do Skaters Wear Baggy Clothing?

Skater clothing has evolved along with the sport into its own distinctively recognisable style. Loose-fitting logo t-shirts, wide-cut baggy jeans and low-top skate shoes have become hallmarks of the skateboarding scene, and the popularity of the style has spread far beyond its origins in 1970s California.

This guide explores the garments associated with the skater look, their use and functionality, along with some recommendations from the iconic Vans range.

What do skaters wear?

Skaters wear clothes that are durable to cope with regular wear and tear. Baggy shirts and hoodies are comfortable and don't restrict motion. Hardwearing trousers will last and offer protection from minor injuries. Skate shoes need tough uppers and grippy soles.

Skater t-shirts and hoodies are usually made from thick fabrics so that they can handle the impacts and friction along the ground that are a regular part of skateboarding. Graphic prints are common on oversized fits. This baggy style offers a fuller range of motion than tighter fits and has become synonymous with the skater look.

Skateboarding trousers and shorts tend to be a straight-leg cut rather than a skinny fit as a lot of time is spent in a squatting position on the board. Cargo pants and corduroy are valued, along with denim, for their durability and are commonly cut off or rolled up at the ankle.

Skateboarding shoes are specifically designed for traction and durability. Friction is essential for controlling the skateboard and is achieved with minimal tread and a wide sole creating a large surface area. Fabrics are selected to be hardwearing.

Caps and beanie hats are another key part of the skater look. The Vans range of caps and hats includes a range of colours featuring the classic Vans logo or the signature 'Off The Wall' patch. Beanies range from the subtle MTE cuff beanie to the distinctive Off The Wall Pom Beanie.

Why do skaters wear baggy clothing?

Skaters wear baggy clothing for comfort, movement and protection. Skateboarding needs a wide range of motion, and baggy clothing is less restrictive than tighter fits. Skateboarding involves frequent falling, and clothing offers protection when you wipe out. Baggy clothes were popular with early skateboarders, and the style has become associated with the scene.

When skateboarding originated, clothing was chosen for practicality and comfort. Oversized fits were favoured to avoid inhibiting range of movement. Tough, hardwearing fabrics were ideal for coping with the many scrapes and skids along the ground.

As skate brands began to rise in popularity, graphic tees and hoodies were easy to print up and sell, becoming the look of choice for skaters. Ripped jeans from multiple falls started to become a trend rather than a consequence of wiping out.

As the skating subculture grew, these styles began to influence the wider fashion world. Today, the baggy skater style is popular outside the skateboarding culture. Brands commonly associated with skateboarding, such as Vans, began to be adopted by a wider cross-section of society. Over the last five decades, the distinctive Vans style has become an iconic look around the world.

Why do skaters cuff their pants?

Skaters cuff their pants to avoid interference with the skateboard or wheels. Cuffing is rolling or folding up the hem of your trousers to make them shorter. Cuffing can be done in a variety of ways, from a quick roll-up to larger folds. Alternatively, skate trousers are sometimes cut off rather than folded.

While baggy trousers work well for movement, extra length in the leg can become problematic if it gets in between your shoe and the board. Cuffing pant legs by folding or rolling them up ensures that no fabric is interfering with your feet and the skateboard.

An alternative is to buy trousers with a shorter length or cut the legs permanently. The size of the cuffs is completely up to your personal sense of style. High cuffs or cuts do leave your ankles more exposed to scrapes and cuts, and so not all skaters cuff their pants - some prefer to allow the leg to bunch up slightly at the top of the shoe.

The Vans Authentic Chino pants have been a skate favourite for years with a durable heavyweight twill blend and a loose fit for a simple, casual vibe. With cuffing in mind, the Vans flag label inside the leg opening will be visible when cuffed.

If a baggy fit isn't your thing, don't be afraid to express your individuality. The Authentic Chino Slim Pants maintain a slim fit through the thigh with a slightly tapered leg opening for a smooth and simple look. The cotton blend adds flexibility so you don't need to worry about limiting motion.

To help you choose the right fit, the Vans trousers guide walks you through all our cuts and styles to find the right trousers for your needs.

Skate shoes

Skate shoes need to be hardwearing and provide maximum grip without sacrificing the 'feel' of the board. Since the earliest days of skateboarding, Vans shoes became popular due to their rubber sole, tough construction and recognisable style.

The Vans Era was originally introduced in 1976 and quickly became the top choice for skaters due to the sturdy uppers, padded collar and signature rubber waffle outsole. For five decades, Vans has developed designs and features for skaters.

Heavyweight suede and reinforced canvas are used to construct uppers that can handle heavy wear and tear. With the Vans Sk8 Hi-Shoe, padded high tops offer protection for exposed ankles. The Vans Authentic Shoe range merges modern construction with the timeless Vans style for comfort and performance during long days or relaxed nights.


Skatewear wouldn't be complete without accessories. Vans socks include the classic checkerboard style which looks great with cuffed pants. A belt is essential to hold baggy trousers up and a backpack to hold all your gear should be worn with the straps at maximum length for the distinctive skate style.

Skate clothing

Since 1966, Vans has been proud to create the go-to footwear and clothing for skaters and beyond. From the famous Vans stripe of the Old Skool shoes to the classic checkerboard slip-on shoes, the essential Logo and the authentic chinos, when it comes to skate clothing, we've got you covered.