"We were on a skate trip in Japan last year and we got recognised in the middle of Tokyo. We were like, 'What the fuck is going on? We're just a little company from south-east London.' We were tripping on that."
I'm outside The Royal Albert on New Cross Road with Daniel Kreitem, the 25-year-old founder of Yardsale, and Curtis Pearl, 22-year-old Yardsale team member, team manager and owner of a face you'll absolutely recognise if you've spent any time in or around Mile End skatepark. We're talking about the moment they realised that the skate brand Dan started in his bedroom four years ago had become more than just a little company from south-east London.
"It was around that point I was like, 'Okay, I need to do more shit – I need to make a full line of clothing,'" says Dan, an ambulance tearing past us towards Deptford. "So I did that, and when that line went live and started selling we were all: 'Yes – this is crazy!' I mean, it turns out there are a lot of people who are into it."
Like many great things, Yardsale exists because of boredom. In the winter of 2012, Dan was working in the Covent Garden branch of Size, selling trainers to children and shivering Italian tourists, and realised he didn't want to spend much longer doing that. "Also, at the time, except for Palace and a few other brands, there was no one doing anything in the UK skate scene," he says. "No good videos, clothing, products; nothing you felt like you could be into."
"It was only Palace," adds Curtis. Dan nods. "So I was like: 'Let's do this.'"
Thing is, you don't just go in two-footed on an idea and blindly expect it to work. You can, obviously, but then you end up with a Fyre Festival on your hands, or £50,000 of debt and a repossessed car. Sensibly, Dan spent a full year filming footage of his friend – and first Yardsale team member – Darius Trabalza, and then later Curtis, after spotting him skating in east London. He also got his friend in LA to send him videos of their mutual friends on the West Coast, Jhian Namei, Adriand Adrid and David Bowen, all of which he cut into Yardsale's first video, LDN–LAX. In 2013, the video was premiered at the Wayward Gallery, and "a lot of people fucked with it". Which was a good start.
For almost the entire year Dan was putting the video together he was also stressing out over the design for a Yardsale logo. "It took me nearly a year to be happy with something, but when I finally was – the circle logo with the palm trees, which I designed with my cousin – we got a run of 50 shirts printed," he says, "and Slam City Skates, where I worked at the time, was down to stock them."
The next step was putting a full team together. "We had Darius and Curtis, then we got Jake Church, who's a kid I've known my whole life," says Dan. "And then other riders, like Kyle Wilson, Sam Sitayeb and Sam Robots, they're just kids we've seen and bonded with, and it's turned into this thing where we all feel part of something, you know? It's more than just some advertising guy sending all the team members T-shirts from Manchester, or wherever. It's actually like a family."
Family holidays so far include LA, Japan and New York, the trips spawning videos like Fantasy Island, Softcore and Hotel Romance – all of which were filmed and edited by Dan, and showcase the kind of skating that's become Yardsale's signature: super fast, on janky surfaces that wouldn't be much fun to fall onto at high speed. "The UK is so different to skate than America, and it's all got a special look to it," says Dan. "We're not skating polished marble ledges; we're skating old brick banks and rails outside estates. It's the same in LA – we always want to show the side of the city we know."
Understandably, skateboarders have been paying attention: within four years, Yardsale has become one of the UK's most exciting companies. And unsurprisingly – now that Beyonce's Instagramming her Supreme clutch, Bieber lives in a Thrasher shirt and the Palace tri-ferg has become the new Birkin bag – so too have the style blogs. Since that first run of T-shirts, Yardsale's clothing output has evolved into full collections of hoodies, track tops, slacks and polo shirts, which could all be described, aesthetically, as somewhere between LA jogger chic and mid-80s Mafia casual-wear. And it's clearly going down well.
"We've dropped stuff that's sold out within a week," says Dan, who has no fashion background but designs all of the collections and handles the whole production process, from sketches to samples, research to racks, backed up in the office by Tom Delion, who deals with orders and logistics. "We're being distributed all over Europe and East Asia. Kids being this into it is really cool."
Skate brands have always been worn by people who don't skate. Vans is one of the biggest shoe companies in the world; your uncle almost definitely wore an Etnies T-shirt to his last Christmas work do. But over the past half-decade, thanks almost exclusively to Supreme and Palace, skate-wear has been fully co-opted by celebrities and luxury fashion houses, attracting millions of non-skaters in the process. Queuing up to own these clothes has essentially become a subculture in itself – the stretch of land between each brand's Soho store becoming the Snapchat generation's Blitz Club, only with bursting bags and maxed-out cards rather than silly hair and sequinned waistcoats. I suggest, with that in mind, that Yardsale has come about at a convenient time.
"There are two sides to this," says Dan. "You've got these kids who want to wear the clothes – which is cool; they can do their own thing; they can wear the clothes. But then you've also got the kids who are just so into the skate side of it. The kids who are into the videos and want the clothes because they're just a part of all that."
"There's definitely been an increase in kids skating in London, too," adds Curtis, pointing out one tangible benefit of this sudden and meteoric rise in interest. "And sticking with it – not just picking it up for a little bit."
"Yeah, that's so cool to see," says Dan, adding: "We only sell at skate shops – that's the rule. It's great that people are into the clothing, but it's one of those weird things – we don't want it to be seen as just a fashion-y hype vibe, where people are only in it for the clothing. Yardsale is about skateboarding at its core. Everything has to be thought about a lot, to make sure that whatever we do is true to that and true to the company."
At the Yardsale office – a space off Blackheath Road that's become a regular drop-in spot for various cliques of skaters from all over London – I see some of the clothes in development for the upcoming collection, which I'm sure will gain the company a few new fans. But on the wall beside them is an edit schedule for an upcoming video, and back at the pub Dan and Curtis discuss all the upcoming filming trips they've got planned; all the UK spots outside of London they've enjoyed skating over the past year. Listening to them speak, I doubt very much that they're going to have a problem sticking to their guns.
"To be honest, skateboarding is the best industry to be in if you have no fucking clue what you're doing, because it's quite forgiving – you can do things quite makeshift and learn as you go," says Dan. "I was running everything from my bedroom until not even this time last year, and now we're here. I should have got another job when I started out, to make some money, but I didn't – I put all my eggs in one basket and properly went for it. And I'm glad I did."
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