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SKATE SHOP VIDEO AWARDS 2023
SKATE SHOP VIDEO AWARDS 2022
VANS SKATEBOARDING x SPITFIRE WHEELS

"My job is to protect skateboarding and make sure that Dickies is properly represented and showcased in a way that is respectful to skateboarding." Joe Monteleone is the man behind Dickies Skateboarding.
──JOE MONTELEONE (ENGLISH)

2024.03.21

[ JAPANESE / ENGLISH ]

Special thanks_Dickies Japan
Photo_Sam Muller

VHSMAG (V): Can you tell us briefly about your background in skating?

Joe Monteleone (J): I guess I've always worked in skateboarding. When I was a kid, I worked in skate shops and then I worked for a skate manufacturer called Chapman Skateboards out of the East Coast. I was skating and filming the whole time. Me and my friends would make local videos, and then as you get a little bit older, you meet more people. Some of my friends were getting sponsored and then I would meet people that way as well. I got a job to be the Brick Harbor team manager, which was an online retailer out of Boston. And I was filming a bunch of skaters, moved to California, never looked back, and I've been doing that ever since. I've been doing the Dickies program for the last 10 years. This October will be my 10th year. I worked for Transworld in the meantime as well. I also made the 30th Transworld video Duets with my buddy James Buchmann. So I made the last Transworld video.

V: You're originally from the East Coast? You used to work for Ray Mate's Mighty Healthy too.

J: I'm from Long Island, New York. I used to help Mighty Healthy. Ray and Mighty Healthy was one of my first transitions into the pro skating world from Long Island. And he allowed me to shoot photos and film Gino Iannucci for Mighty Healthy. Through Ray and Gino, I was able to work for Brick Harbor, and from those relationships I started filming PJ Ladd.

V: What was it like filming all those legends?

J: Gino had a shop called Poets out on Long Island, so I'd see him all the time. My best friend worked for him, so we knew each other. It wasn't too weird. It was just going out and filming with my friend. We eat a lot of pizza and go skateboarding and drink coffee and make fun of stuff. So that was cool. PJ was a little bit more intimidating when I first met him. I didn't know him but we became pretty good friends during that time period. You just show up, work hard, try and be positive. It was fun.

V: What brought you to California?

J: PJ asked me to move to California to help him film for the Plan B video but that didn't work out. Anyway, right around then, Brick Harbor ended. I didn't want to go back to the East Coast and I didn't want to go get a normal job, but I didn't have a place to live and I didn't have money. And Sam Muller, who works for me and he's my best friend, let me sleep on his couch. Sam was the photographer for Transworld. So he introduced me to all those guys and that's how that relationship started.

V: Was Dickies' skate program already happening when you started working for them?

J: Not really. They had a program going for maybe a year or two, but it was kind of falling apart when I got there. It was in October of 2014 when Dickies found me. I spent the last decade trying to reshape and grow that portion of the brand. So the team existed. Vincent Alvarez and Ronnie Sandoval were two of the guys that were part of the original group. They're still on the team 10 years later with me, which is good.

V: What's your title at Dickies Skateboarding?

J: Global Brand Manager is my title. But over the years when I started the Instagram account, we had zero followers. So I was doing all the social media, I was doing all the filming, marketing plans, advertising plans, working with retailers, working with our merchandising team to make the product correct. Basically every single job outside of shooting photos. We had our sales team, and I had a long time partner. He just recently left the company, but he and I pretty much grew the business from an infant standpoint. And my wife is our graphic designer, so she laid out all the ads and she's been doing all that stuff on the back end with me the whole time. So Dickie Skateboarding was done on my kitchen table for the last nine and a half years, pretty much.

V: Was it hard to get skaters to wear the skate line?

J: It's not too hard because there's improvements that are made for skaters. Instead of a clasp, you have a button. The fabric stretches a little bit more, a little extra stitching in certain spots. The subtle changes do make the pants better and they speak to the skate community. Also, I thought it was important to give skateboarding its own thing. The skateboarding line Dickie Skateboarding launched June of 2021, so it's relatively still a newer thing. We had a different collection that was called something else years ago, and we redid those into a better design.

V: How do you balance staying true to the brand's heritage while adapting to the trends in skateboarding?

J: I don't chase trends. If you look at our team, they're some of the best skaters in the world and there's nobody there that's trendy. They're all people that I consider to be very individualistic and they've either made trends or they don't care about them. There's nobody chasing hot tricks or changing up the way they look. I think good skateboarding will always shine through. And the people that wear Dickies aren't really that flashy, so we don't really make flashy clothes. There's enough in the skate line, and then in the regular line to dress however you want and kind of express your individualism. I'm not a trendy guy but I understand good skateboarding. So that's all we're trying to do is just elevate that.

V: You built the current team. What do you look for in skaters?

J: I mean, there's that intangible thing and you're looking for that. I look for people who want to ride for Dickies. For example, I lived behind this theater where the Isle video Vase premiered. I'm good friends with Paul Shier and he invited me, so I walked over and watched it. Tom Knox had the first part in the video and at the end of the video I was like, "Tom Knox needs to ride for Dickies." So I got his phone number, I called him and we talked about it for a little while. He had that "it" thing. I wanted him to ride for Dickies and stuff like that will happen. And sometimes it's as easy as Guy Mariano telling me that he wants to ride for Dickies. Foy was already wearing Dickies. Frankie Villani, same thing.

V: What are some of the memorable projects at Dickies?

J: Like I said, I'm from Long Island. We did this video called Another Day, Another Bodega, and we took two different trips to New York to film for it. That one came out really good, I'm pretty proud of that one. The Loose Ends promo that we did turned out really good too.


 

V: I love that Ronnie Sandoval part. That's one of my favorites.

J: Thank you. Yeah, we filmed that over Covid. Zach was really killing himself and Ronnie, we were just filming a lot and we had a lot of stuff. So that one was really fun. I made the Transworld video Duets while I worked for Dickies, so most of the team is in that video. So Duets was pretty special.



 

And then the pro campaigns are all special in their own way because they're all filmed on a very limited timeframe. Like Foy's Sunshine State part was three weeks. Frankie's video part was two weeks, Ronnie's was a month and a half. So they're all these really conceptually close-knit projects that are fun. Just try to make them good so that people enjoy the skating and hopefully pick music that people don't hate.


 

V: Who picked that Nancy Sinatra's "Bang Bang" song for Ronnie's part?

J: That was me. I was watching a lot of Kill Bill. I was on my Tarantino kick during Covid watching a bunch of movies, and I was surprised that nobody skated to it. And it fits Ronnie's whole thing.

V: Who's especially fun to work with filming wise?

J: Everybody is a little different. For example, Ronnie is kind of the easiest. Ronnie lands more than he falls. Nothing takes him very long and he can do everything he's ever done. I've had him do a lot except for a few things that are enders, but he can pretty much do whatever he's going to do. And he's a really funny person. Foy is really easy too. He's very professional about the whole thing and he's also very fun. I mean, everybody is fun. They just have their own little quirks in terms of ease of getting tricks. And then Frankie is like a magician. Everybody has their own little shocking things that make them really special. I love all of them.

V: Skateboarding is not the same as it used to be. How do you see skating today?

J: It's different. I try not to sound too old but we talk about it a lot. We went from uninterrupted decades of people obsessing over videos. You would watch it a thousand times and the songs are in your brain. Now you watch things that exist for a week. Instagram is a thing. Skating is a little weird now. But the thing that I always have to tell myself is, "Who are we doing it for?" In the world of professional skating, you're doing it for the kids. You're making videos to entertain kids and the youth, who are going to take it and they're going to push it. I think that the wasteful part of it is that a lot of it goes straight to Instagram and nobody can catalog it anymore in terms of where it used to live in a video. So I kind of wish that everybody who uploaded their clips to Instagram would also have put it on YouTube and be like, "Here's the date, here's what I did." Catalog it so that if people wanted to go back and find it, they could.

V: What excites you the most about leading Dickies Skateboarding, and what do you hope to achieve over the next few years?

J: The exciting part is traveling with the team and growing the brand. And I think the opportunity now is to elevate our program in a more global way. That's probably the most exciting opportunity in that regard, is hoping that I can help grow an international business to where there's enough belief to regionally expand it to where we have a Japan or a Europe team. An opportunity where we can sponsor a lot more skaters and help a lot more people achieve their dreams and give back to skateboarding. We built a skate park in Texas. It'd be cool if we could figure out more ways to do stuff like that. I don't necessarily care about anything besides helping more people do what they want to do with their lives. We need more brands to do that because it can't just all be up to a few. And if riding for Dickies or Dickies being able to help people get a platform is a way for them to expand their art or their filmmaking or their photography or whatever, I think that's really cool.

V: What are the things that you can never compromise in regards to running Dickies Skateboarding?

J: Skateboarding. You can't compromise the integrity of the way things are supposed to be done and how it's supposed to be represented. I have fought many battles with many people who didn't know what they were talking about over the years. You have to really do this the proper way to make sure that you're respectful of the community that you're involved with. There are rules to this shit and nobody talks about them, but they're there and you have to do it the right way. That's why anytime you see some fucking bank ad with somebody grabbing a board mongo or the trucks on backwards, you scoff at it. My job is to protect skateboarding and make sure that Dickies is properly represented and showcased in a way that is respectful to skateboarding.

V: Nice. What are the projects that's in the works right now?

J: Guy Mariano's collection is coming out later this month. He's filming some stuff for that. And then we have a few things this year that are pretty big. And then in the summer, we have the Honeymoon video. It's a full length video, full parts, whole team. It's 11 video parts. I'm trying to cut the bullshit and keep it all killer, no filler. It's a big year for Dickies Skateboarding. I think the full length video shows a commitment. They take time and energy. People get hurt and bones get broken. I'm trying to make it as good as it can be. That is the big thing for this year. Honeymoon.

Joe Monteleone
@dickiesskate | @thejoeface

After working in the skate industry for pretty much all his life, he's been building what Dickies Skateboarding is today for a decade as the Global Brand Manager. He's also made Transworld's last video Duets.

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