On October 12th, 2016, one of our best passed away.
I was at a rooftop bar in the Upper West Side, with a friend, Topher, who was (at the time) between jobs. It was a crisp, autumn afternoon in the city, just south of Columbia University. The breeze was present. The beers were cold, the flannels were being worn, and the conversations were relaxed. As Topher jumped to his phone’s notification (job seeking), I also defaulted to the iPhone (something I’m still working on). I went along to check Instagram account(s) and see what was happening in the greater skateboarding world (95% of what I follow on Insta is skate-centric), and the first thing that made me stop my scrolling was a black & white portrait of Dylan Rieder (@swankfuck_inc) posted by Washington, D.C.-based Palace 5ive Skateshop (@Palace5ive).
I knew that a picture of only someone’s face must have meant some sort of special message. I was right but wish I had been wrong. According to them, Dylan had died. That was something I had such a hard time grasping. I knew that he’d had (or was having) a bout with Leukemia, but Dylan was only 28 years old and I couldn’t imagine a legend so young being ripped away from his communities. Topher had been a skater in his youth and was familiar with Dylan. We chatted a bit about it, trying to get a verification. Once we did, I made a post via one of the Instagram accounts. I had caught on early in the viral process. It was an awkward thing, taking a stance on his death for the sake of promotion. Something so heavy for any “core” skateboarder (and for many, many others) yet deserving of public acknowledgement.
From Westminster, CA, Dylan always was within arms reach of major hubs for the skateboarding and fashion industries. He was obviously an amazing skateboarder, period. But he was also an attractive man with the confidence and look that it takes to be a successful male model. In the modeling world, Dylan was doing well, as a model for DKNY and other brands. Between New York, Los Angeles, Paris and many other places for skateboarding, modeling and other endeavors within the art world, he took his passion and ability to levels most of us only dream up. His talent and natural inclination for the worlds of the aesthetic were on a supreme level (no pun intended), but what may be most impressive about him is his stand-out attitude.
Dylan was on the level of potential Skater of the Year, if it weren’t for his health and resulting skateboarding hiatus. He is the favorite skater of so many and great friend of many in the industry. He will be missed, yet more importantly, he will be remembered. He was largely responsible for a popular fashion approach in skateboarding. He had a hand in shaping skateboarders’ styles, looks and focus in how they did what they did. He was much more than would-be legend. He was an influencer in the most influential sense of the word. He commanded the respect of an older generation (without demanding anything) and won the hearts of younger generations (girls AND boys). At the end of the day, no one will remember @swankfuck_inc for what he could have done or been. He will only be remembered for how he slapped skateboarding in the face and left all of us liking it.
His video parts from Mindfield, A Time To Shine, Cherry and others are just glimpses into his footprint. Not to mention, we’re not getting into his effect outside of skateboarding.
Dylan, we (today’s skateboarders) miss you, and you will always be remembered as one of the few that truly did it their way. Not for anyone else.
- 7Ply Epic