Lugano's Warriors Family recently decided to stop operating as a commercial business and instead moved to become a non-profit association. Intrigued by this change we spoke to Igor Fardin to find out the reasoning behind the decision. Read on for a bit of Warriors history, what their current status as a non-profit means, musings on the state of the skateboarding industry and more...
Can you give us a bit of a history of the Warriors? Who’s in the crew, how did it start?
To make it short Warriors started as a crew around the mid ‘90s. Just a group of young guys traveling and skating together, all with a good attitude towards skateboarding. After a while one of them, Yari Copt, drew a logo and from then on the crew started to make videos. At this time they also moved into a party house for a while, The Casotto, and brought some younger people in. These younger people built new connections and so the crew got bigger and bigger to include other Swiss cities and people from different countries. At a certain point we decided to turn this crew into a brand, it lasted for a while, and now we are making this new thing.
Regarding who is in the crew, I am not really sure. I see it more as a platform to create something, so basically anybody that we are close to and that is into doing something that we like is in the crew I guess.
Dennis’ skating seems to really embody the word ‘warriors’, not afraid to throw his body on the line. Does he always skate like this?
(Laughs) yes he definitely does, and it’s not just skateboarding that he approaches in this way - he’s got the same attitude in many other aspects of life, such as driving. Also I am pretty sure he picked up boxing at his father's gym.
I’ve seen Martino skate in person a couple of times now and it’s pretty mind blowing, what’s the most impressive thing you’ve seen him do?
I personally can’t pinpoint a specific trick or spot. He’s impressive pretty often, but I guess he is the most impressive in the Lugano bowl on a late spring afternoon when the sun is out, there aren't many kids around and he’s in a good mood. When that happen it’s always incredible to see him skate.
The company has recently changed, you’ve moved away from any business interests and operate as a non-profit. Can you explain the reason for the change and what difference it makes more generally?
I guess there were some internal struggles when Warriors was a ‘real brand’ because there were people who had different priorities. Some of us wanted it to grow as a brand and some of us wanted it to just be an outlet for our ideas in skating, without the need for it to grow or be recognized.
This internal conflict was very tiring on both parties so we decided that the best thing to do would be to end the Warriors as a brand and start over with a different premise. So that is what we did, the fact that we’re now registered as a non-profit is super good because it allows us to run everything as a cooperative. This way the brand is not only a skate brand, it also allows us to do basically whatever we want, from events, to zines, to exhibitions and so on.
Warriors has become a platform we can use to develop different projects and ideas that we might have. Also being a non-profit association allows us to stress less about growing or being effective in the marketplace. As long as we get our money back it’s fine, nobody had do leave a job to do this, so the way I see it is it’s just our little outlet to do stuff we think is cool.
This platform also allows us to keep contact with all the people we like across Europe, which is a very important thing for us, trying to gather good people together.
"I think it’s cool to see all these new little brands, because we need that in order to stop skateboarding from becoming stagnant"
With this in mind, what is your take on the current state of the skateboard industry?
I can’t really give you a good solid answer like it’s good because… or it’s bad because… I guess it has pros and cons. We are definitely going through some big changes - the corporate brands have a very solid position in the market, the older core brands are struggling and there’s the cool new little brands coming in.
Personally I think it’s cool to see all these new little brands, because we need that in order to stop skateboarding from becoming stagnant. But on the other hand the fact that there are so many little brands might also cause some problems. If there are no more core big brands that can pay pros, the pro job - and I don’t mean Street League pros but people like Jake Johnson that we all hope might keep on getting paid for doing the beautiful thing he does on the streets - might disappear, because nobody is paying them enough to make a living out of skateboarding. The only brands that would be able to keep on paying pros would be the big corporate brands and that will augment their power and might make individuality less relevant in skateboarding.
I say that because if the only paying sponsor left is going to be corporate shoes brands skateboarding is bound to lose its identity to some extent. There would be less brands that create identities that kids can relate to, and that would be sad.
This wave of small new brands has really given skateboarding a breath of fresh air, something that was needed. I really think that it is worth the risk, and these brands might grow enough to get a more stable position in the industry and keep on influencing kids through pros and so on. It has happened before and why shouldn't it happen again?
Small brands may not all be able to pay top class pros but they are usually very active and important on a local scale. They could become something akin to how a skate shop holds a scene together, I feel that is what we try to do in Lugano.
Concerning the corporate brands it's easy to hate them but they are here and it doesn't look like they are going to back out any time soon, I am not sure there is any point in saying that I don't like them, they are here. The best thing to do would be to learn how to not let the situation slip out of skateboarders’ control.
What changes would you make if you had the power?
I really don’t know, I don’t want to end up saying one of those beauty queen style sentences like “I wish everybody could live in peace" so here as well I can’t really give a simple answer. In general I wish that the cultural side of skateboarding would have a more important role than the one it has currently.
In your latest video, Protagonist Arrogance, you guys have managed to find some pretty unique spots. Do you have a method for spot hunting? I know a lot of people like to use Google’s Street View.
Personally I don’t really have a method, I guess the unique spots in the video come from driving around and hearing about spots from locals, the old school way. The spots are also unique looking because most of us live in areas which are off the skate radar and therefore not really seen to often and, as a result, stand out more.
You guys are mostly based around Lugano, can you explain a bit what the wider skateboard scene is like there? The scenery looks incredible!
Lugano has a good skate scene for the town small town that it is. Being a small town forces everybody to know everybody and that is definitely a plus when it comes to building and maintaining a solid skate scene. It’s a pretty town in the summer, but the winter is long and boring.
"I wish that the cultural side of skateboarding would have a more important role than the one it has currently."
How can people support the Warriors should they wish to?
Get in touch with us through Instagram and we would be more than happy than sort something out for you. If you live in Belgium you can hit up our distributor there, Jean Jaques Distribution, if you live in Spain we can also hook you up through our friend Marcel (laughs). Since Warriors is a platform, you can find Warriors influence in the bands Pussywarmers and Frank Powers.
What is coming up this year for the Warriors?
We’ve got a pretty cool new board series, hopefully some trips and other little projects here and there, basically just keep on having fun doing what we do. As dumb as it sounds that is what we’re going to do!
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions Igor, all the best.