Off the back of his latest collaboration with PUMA which features a selection of footwear and apparel, we sat down with Nicky Diamonds of Diamond Supply Co. at their in-house skatepark located within their Los Angeles HQ.
Hi Nicky, thanks for taking the time to talk to us, and congratulations on your PUMA x Diamond Supply Co. collaboration, but before we get into the collection, and for those unfamiliar with your brand, can you give us a bit of background about Diamond Supply Co.?
“The brand started in 1998 in San Francisco as a skateboard hardware brand. A lot of my friends were pro-skaters that I skated with every day, so I decided to start a brand where we could all be on the same team, so we made this Diamond Supply Co. Hardware Team. Firstly, we started by making tees, and hats, things like that, and then over the years, this turned into gear, accessories, grip tape, more skate hard goods, and now, 20 years on in 2018, we’ve evolved into full apparel collections and footwear, amongst other things.”
Ok, so pre-1998, before you launched the brand, what were the sort of things that inspired you when you were growing up?
“Growing up I was always into skateboarding, sneakers and fashion. I was into many different types of clothes and went through all the stages like most kids, from punk-rock to hip-hop. I was into Polo and Nautica, all that type of shit in the early 90s, and we were skating in that stuff. Me and a lot of my friends were probably not your typical skateboarders that people would think of back then because we didn’t look like skateboarders.”
Your PUMA Suede Collection last year was really successful, was it a no brainer to work with the brand again and expand the collection?
“Yeah, I was excited to work with PUMA again because when I first started collecting sneakers, the PUMA Clyde was the first shoe that I really started to collect as I used to skate in them. I had this really good friend called Paul Shier from England and he used to find me shoes over there in colourways that you couldn’t get here. He would send them over and I would have this ill collection of PUMA that nobody around here had ever seen before. It was just a brand I was always into, I love PUMA and I wanted to continue working with them. The first launch was amazing so it’s fun being able to work on new colourways and new styles with them.”
What inspired this new collection and how has it involved from the previous one?
“We kept the Suede in the collection, added the Clyde and the Sky II, and we’ve also made our own shoe that’s coming out, but really the first drop is inspired by old 70/80’s style PUMA clothing that they had. We adopted the old styles and colourways of tracksuits, and kind of flipped them into our own colourways and changed a few things.”
Were you excited about being able to work on the other footwear silhouettes and remixing the classic Clyde silhouette?
“Yeah, really excited to be able to work on the other footwear silhouettes and particularly the Clyde as I said previously, it was one of my favourite styles growing up.”
What about the skate team? Do they get involved much during the collaborative process? It must be great to have a team of regular skaters to bounce ideas off of.
“When it comes to our collaborations with our skate team and our own Diamond footwear that we do, they definitely have a say. We basically throw a bunch of ideas at them, and they come back with design ideas that they have and we kind of mesh them together and hopefully it comes out good… usually it does! For other collabs, there’s a lot of people on the team that I’m really close with and I ask them their opinions even if they’re involved in it or not, just to get their opinions because they’re my friends you know. A lot of the OGs on the team, I grew up with them, so we are all real close.”
Obviously skate culture has been such a massive part of your life, both growing up and present day, do you think collaborations between skate stores and sportswear brands like PUMA over recent years have helped the scene reach new audiences?
“For sure, I think that it’s amazing that when people do brands in skateboarding with brand that have nothing to do with skateboarding at all. When I was a kid, I probably used to hate on it because you know, when you’re a kid, you’re smart, but you don’t always see the big picture, but now that I’m old, I think it’s great. If I saw someone back in the day say like Thraser Magazine x Levi’s, I’d be like “That’s lame, why would Levi’s be trying to do something that’s skate?” but now I would think that’s rad because it opens up a whole other audience to skateboarding, so times have changed.”
I guess something so obvious is the likes of Supreme and Louis Vuitton; with how far back Supreme go in the skate industry, back then, you’d have never put those two together.
“Yeah, exactly, that was unheard of at the time and nobody would have been down with that, but now it’s amazing, now it’s like “wow this is great!”. Skateboarding is getting recognised by a whole other world of people, which is great because skateboarding used to be so underground, and then it became not so underground, but in the reality of things, it’s better that it’s not because even though skateboarders are so grungey and like street kids, that’s just how most of us grew up, and now you can actually make money. Back in my day of skating, it was typical for like a skateboarder to make $500 a month and that was it, but now kids are signing multi-million dollar contracts with companies.”
I’d ask you what’s next but I read that you’ve opened a new European HQ in Barcelona, congratulations on that, what drew you to that particular city?
“So we did, we already opened it up. We have offices in Barcelona and we do all of our international sales out of there as we have a sales team there. We wanted to do it in Barcelona because I’ve travelled there so much for skateboarding and to me it’s like the skate-hub of Europe because there’s so many skaters there and the scene is awesome, and I have a lot of friends there too. It makes it really easy for the guy’s out there that we sponsor to get gear also, and it’s just cool man, I love Barcelona and have always loved Barcelona”
It was always quite hard to get stuff from the US to Europe years ago, and even now it can still be hard to get certain brands.
“Yeah it was hard working with all the distributors and now we just cut out the middleman and we’re doing our own things and it just makes everything easier, and makes Diamond more affordable. As before in Europe, Diamond would be astronomically expensive because of all the shipping, duties, and all that but now we have the product drop-shipped right there and we are distributing it ourselves so this makes it way better for everybody.”
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, and all the best for your 20th anniversary!
Check out what went down at the launch event for their collaboration on our blog.