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Highsnobiety / Lucien Clarke C/O Huxley World

This story expands on some of the themes from Blondey McCoy’s cover story in Issue 19 of Highsnobiety Magazine. You can buy the new issue here.

In the late ’90s, former Thrasher editor Jake Phelps (RIP) started calling heavy tricks “hammers,” a term Baker/Deathwish pro Jim Greco ran with, turning it into his own personal signature and occasional line of skateboards. And since pro skaters are beloved just as much for their off-the-board hijynx as their on-the-board tricks, some skaters began calling any exciting or outlandish thing a skater did off the board a “lifestyle hammer.”

Ever since 2011, when Supreme dropped its collaboration with Thrasher and pro skater Brian Anderson appeared in Adam Kimmel’s spring 2012 runway show, skateboarding has exercised an outsized influence on high fashion. Since then, pro skaters like Dylan Reider (RIP) and Ben Nordberg have worked as models, while others like Eli Reid and Jerry Hsu have launched boutique lines that sell at Opening Ceremony and Dover Street Market. Some, like . Alex Olson, have done both.

But no skater has represensented this mixture of glamour and grit quite like Blondey McCoy, the half Lebanese, half British 22-year-old native of New Malden, a suburb on the southwest side of London. Discovered by Palace skateboards guru Lev Tanju as a young teenager, Blondey quickly became the face of the brand, appearing in videos and lookbooks, despite never having a pro board for the company. Under Palace, Blondey showed speed and power on his skateboard, combining those skills with his irresistibly cosmopolitan London look that drew heavily on classic English subcultures like football casuals and mods.

Of course, Instagram, and the emergence of the influencer economy, also played a huge role in high fashion’s enmeshment with skateboarding, offering casting directors and editors a pool of young, authentic personalities who were available for online perusal 24/7. With his distinct personal style and natural charisma, Blondey proved particularly adept at leveraging his 283k Instagram followers and friendships with legends like Vivienne Westwood, Pharrell Williams, Mark Gonzales into modeling deals, adidas endorsements, his own clothing line Thames, and even an art career.

In this way, Blondey is a new kind of skate celebrity, using his enviable lifestyle as a platform for promoting his skateboarding, rather than the other way around. And though he’s since left Palace, McCoy lets slip in his cover story that Thames is undergoing a resurgence, along with recent news that Blondey trademarked his own name,  it’s clear that he’s far from done.

While this all started with his talent on the board, Blondey’s success is due just as much to his charm and lifestyle as it is to his enviable backside 360. In some ways, both aspects of Blondey’s life—his skateboarding and his personality—are equally integral to his triumphs. So we’ve decided to combine them here, bringing you a list of his best tricks alongside his biggest fashion industry accomplishments—or “lifestyle hammers,” if you’ll humor us.

Honorable Mention: Hit by a Car and Lands on His Feet

When it went down: Palace’s Palasonic, 2017

You’ve probably seen this clip before. But when Blondey appeared in the Palasonic video getting hit by a cab after completing a wallie and an impossible, he became an internet sensation, causing skaters and non-skaters worldwide to wonder how the hell he landed safely on his feet here, avoiding injury or even, gulp, death. We had to include it.

5. Signs to Kate Moss’ Modeling Agency

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Fashion fwends! @KateMossAgency

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When it went down: 2018

“Face of a generation” gets thrown around a lot, but in the 1990s, Kate Moss truly was the face of a Generation X, going on to become perhaps the coolest, most famous British model of all time. When Moss signed Blondey to her eponymous modeling agency, her approval marked Blondey as one of the most important faces in contemporary fashion. And that’s a flex no one can argue with.

4. Wallride Shuv It

When it went down: Bronze 56K’s Serenity Now, 2019

Shortly before leaving Palace, Blondey appeared alongside teammate Shawn Powers in the Serenity Now clip for popular NYC skate crew Bronze 56k. Despite being recognized throughout this New York-centric clip for on-board fashion flexes that included skating during winter wearing Prada shorts that cost nearly $900, Blondey’s skating also shined here. No more so than when he honored his stylistic forebearers from the East Coast with a wallride shuv it that accented his powerful skating with just a hint of technicality.

3. Walking Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton SS 19 Debut Show

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When it went down: June, 2018

Sure, for a skater whose appeal is directly tied to his fashionable Britishness, being tapped as the face of Burberry’s fall 2017 trench coat campaign might seem like a career high. But Blondey was able to do one better — walking in Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton debut.

Sure, as someone who’s made use of his skateboarding roots to build his fashion and art careers, Abloh remains controversial among skaters, but no one can deny the importance of him being named the first African-American artistic director of a major European fashion house. For anyone who cares about progressivism and fighting racism in fashion, this was an undeniably huge deal. And Blondey was there from the start, helping add youthful authenticity to the whole venture.

2. Backside 360 Ender

When it went down: Palace’s Palasonic, 2017

Blondey is a true urbanite and his skating reflects that fact. Bypassing technicality for strength and style, his skating is rife with wallies, wallrides, and big ollies, recalling the template set by skaters in videos like Underachievers: Eastern Exposure 3. But Blondey’s best trick is his backside 360, something he hurls with a mix of style, control, and abandon. This one, off of a stone wall and out over a sizable sidewalk gap, is his biggest and best. That’s why it was the ender for his biggest video part.

1. Seven Seconds of Southbank Destruction: Frontside noseblunt; Wallie Frontside 180 Fakie Manual; and Wallie Backside Noseblunt

When it went down: Palace’s Palasonic, 2017

As a London skater, Southbank has always been Blondey’s spiritual home. And he proves it here, with three tricks nestled right in the middle of his 2017 Palasonic part. Starting off with a frontside noseblunt on picnic table and into a bank, Blondey builds on the difficulty quotient, following that trick with a wallie frontside 180 fakie manual, finally closing out seven seconds of carnage with a wallie backside noseblunt, likely the hardest trick he’s ever done. When he wants, Blondey can bring it. That’s why these seven seconds are number one on this list.

Words by Andrew Luecke

Andrew Luecke is a fashion editor and writer whose work has appeared in Esquire, Complex, and Range Magazine. He is the co-author of Cool: Style, Sound, and Subversion, a history of youth subcultures, He lives in Brooklyn and loves dogs.