Mike Vallely Quits Element
Mike V wasn't too happy with how Billabong was handling their business.
He speaks freely on his blog.
I've never met Mike but from what I hear he's a really nice guy.
He doesn't come across as one who's ok with compromises.
So him leaving Element after Billabong buying up half the industry (Von Zipper, Element, Nixon, Sector 9, DaKine, RVCA to name a few) doesn't come as a surprise to me.
Taken from his blog at: www.mikevallely.com
“Quitting Element was a tough decision in many ways because of the personal relationships I had and have there. Johnny Schillereff (Element’s founder and president) has always been a great supporter of mine, even when no one else was, and I won’t ever forget it. When I got on Element in 2003, I just wanted to not have to worry about the business of skateboarding. I wanted to be able to put my head down and get to work just being me and doing what I do and he and Element facilitated that quite well. I was very happy and proud to be associated with the brand. I was on the front lines in skateboarding, right where I wanted to be and really I felt that I and the brand could do no wrong. I saw my sponsors as a means to an end. They allowed me to continue doing what I love most, traveling the world riding a skateboard, who could be bummed at that?”
“Today I feel differently about things. You see, I still love Element and the people who I worked closely with there but unfortunately those people are ultimately powerless to steer the ship that is the conglomerate that owns Element. And it has become clearer and clearer to me that the parent company of Element is only looking to build their business and improve their bottom line on the backs of people like me. They can buy admiration but they can’t buy achievement. They can own skateboard companies but they’ll never be skaters. And this really bothers me. It bothers me so much that I can no longer give one ounce of my energy or another second of my time to their cause. Thus, I’ve started my own thing because I simply can’t and won’t be apart of their thing anymore.”
“By The Sword has actually been a project in my head and in the works for sometime but things really started to heat up and take shape when at the end of 2009 Element’s parent company decided to no longer make good on a footwear deal I had signed with them. Somehow my contract was suddenly no longer being honored. This really put me in a tough spot and left a really bad taste in mouth. Wait, you can just tear up a contract? Then why the hell did I sign one in the first place? Beyond that, since the day I started riding for Element until the day I quit, I was always made to feel that I somehow had to prove myself on a daily basis and earn my keep. Prove myself and answer to some shadowy entity of sales people, sales reps, message board lurkers and some board of directors I have never met. I have been doing this for 26 years, 23 professionally. I’ve never quit, I’ve never walked away and I’ve always given skateboarding my all — what do I have to prove? The bottom line is I’m just not about to be at the mercy or the whims of sponsors or the skate industry as a whole anymore. I helped pave this road, I’ve given my blood and sweat to make skateboarding what it is today but I’m left now to sometimes feel like a World War II Veteran watching a bunch of ingrates run rampant on the skateboarding landscape with no regard for who and what made their moronic short sighted actions even possible. They may still continue to do what they’re going to do but I won’t endorse it and I won’t play some lame PC game of “It’s all good” because it’s not all good.”
“By The Sword is an act of necessity. I’m going into the garage and I’m doing it my way and I’m not asking for anyone’s permission. Corporate Skateboarding sucks. It sucks because it’s soulless. See, I still love and value skateboarding and know it to be a profound and sacred experience. I’ve always been about this as a professional skateboarder but I’ve also always had to navigate my way through sponsorship deals that haven’t always lined up with who I am and what I represent. Those days are over. Win, lose or draw I’m doing what I’m doing for fun, so really, I can’t lose.”
– Mike V
Mike was a very influential skater in the 80's (and arguably par of the 90's).
Just watch the following videos in case you didn't skateboard in the late 80's / early 90s.
The first one is from a Powell Peralta video and from what I know Mike's first appearance in a major video.
The second one is from 1989 demo he did with Jason Lee. I REALLY love this clip. Too see Mike and Jason skate this semi crappy street course in a raw unedited format is too amazing to describe in words.
In the third clip he does a fs 180 ollie over a picnic table (1:46) which I remember thinking was unreal. We could barely ollie over a skateboard and he flew over a table!
He was also skatin one of the first skateboards with a big nose. If you happen to have one of these in your basement you might want to put it up on Ebay and sell it to a nostalgic skater for about 40 times more than you paid for it.
Here are some more current videos of Mike.
The first one is his Battle Commander from The Berrics.
The second one is a montage from his tv show Drive which was (is?) a show where he in a somewhat philanthropic way travels around to promote skateboarding. Great show imho.