Rob Welsh: A Journey From Fresh to Hesh

Rob Welsh has had a lengthy and prolific career in professional skateboarding. When I was first introduced to him, I liked him instantly. Every trick he does is nothing short of textbook, his style is absolutely timeless. Much has been said about the switch 360 flip, the noseslide pop outs, and of course, the sweatpants. You see, Welsh isn't necessarily the first person you think of when you talk about #fashion, but having grown up admiring the dude his outfit choices played a very large role in my middle school/high school experience/embarassment. It's hard when you're young and unsure of who you are, especially as a skateboarder. You take pieces and scraps from the dudes that inspire you on a board and soon before you know it you're seeing if you can really get away with wearing a XXL white tee and weighing 120 lbs.

But Welsh, like myself, was on a fashion journey himself. By the time Welsh had become the Expo TM, his warddrobe had transformed from that of fresh, to hesh. Once donned in enormous sweatpants, doo-rags, and white sneakers, Welsh now settles for chinos, Chuck Taylors, and a fitting flannel. While some on the fresh camp have slimmed their kits, (Biebel, Rodrigo, Stevie), few have made the jump to the other side. Much was said of Elijah Berle's kit change, though quickly forgotten, as he simply went from Corey Duffel hesh, to DIY/Peter Hewitt hesh. Again, same side.

In the later years of his career Welsh has crossed over and found a new comfort not in sweatpants and it seems to be working. He's still the chainsmoking, foam rolling, tech wizard we know and love, with just a new kit. We've snapshotted his journey from Hesh to Fresh, and explored our favorite Welsh outfits along the way.

Mad Circle Welsh - Before the gruff beard, the camo, the sweatpants, there was Rob Welsh from Mad Circle. He fit the vibe there for sure, but there's nothing particularly unique or shocking about his gear. As far as his style on a board goes, I mean that's classic Welsh. You could spot that from a mile away. Seeing that there's not much to discuss about his clothes, let me just run down on the trick itself: the foot placement, and the shit he does with his hands is just too good, dude. Welsh doesn't settle for anything less than textbook. Mad Circle was a cool company too. The end.

Aesthetics Welsh Pre-Ryde or Die Vol. 1 - This is some like foreshadowing shit right here. Aesthetics had a total hip hop/team fresh vibe to it, but looky here - Welsh is already blurring the lines of hesh and fresh. Hefty sized frontside boardslide down a handrail, a hipsterish beanie with ear flaps, a DC jersey/shirt thing, and a sweatband on his wrist. What do you even call this?! Fashion wise he's all over the place here...though in his heart he yearns for heshness. Let's take a look at where Rob's outfits went during Ryde or Die Vol. 1...

Aesthetics Welsh Mid Ryde or Die Vol. 1 - This was the first time I was ever introduced to Welsh. I used to think he grew up in San Francisco, totally unaware of his Maine roots. Regardless, the doorag is what we should be focusing on here. They’ve been gone for a while and maybe for good reason, but honestly there are some people that just look natural in that fucking thing. Welsh, Biebel, Ja Rule, 2002 Cam’Ron/Dipset, just to name a few. This part also includes one of the greatest kickflips ever done, a borderline “hesh” maneuver in a part highly focused on “fresh” maneuvers. I mean its very likely this dude filmed tricks with gold fronts in his mouth. I can’t even skate with change in my pocket, dude. 

Welsh Post Ryde or Die Vol. 1 - Nothing but fresh. Goddamn this sequence is sick. The trick, the gloves, that fourth frame...fucking, A. Ryde or Die Vol 1. is one of the best videos ever made, no matter what side of the hesh/fresh fence you're on, that video fucking rules and Welsh's part is insane. This is the height of Welsh's freshness, the epicenter of bling and camo. We don't even have to talk about how no one even does the trick he's doing today...do we? Didn't think so.

Sweatpants at Tampa Pro - Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is at SPOT, ya? Like, in Tampa, Florida? Are you seeing those fucking sweapants dude? The average temps during Tampa Pro are in the lower to middle 80’s. Now couple that with Florida humidity and on a hot day that’s like closer to the lower 90’s and you are sweaty. Now I’ve never been to SPOT, but I’d assume that the air conditioner is nothing out of the ordinary...especially with so many people crammed into one room, skating, drinking, etc. there’s no proof it even makes a difference. Do you see what I’m getting at here? Welsh looked at those sweatpants that morning, with all of the above factors in play and thought “Yeah, these’ll work.” That is some legend shit right there. Above all odds and all temperatures, Welsh chose the sweatpants. Celtics jersey for breathability, sweatpants for style and comfort. Unreal.

Raiders Welsh - I like this look for two reasons: 1.) I have never successfully pulled off rocking a football jersey, they are the largest, widest, and worst fitting of any sports jersey one could wear without a hoodie underneath, so Welsh making the seemingly impossible work to his favor. 2.) He chose this outfit without knowing that what this day would become...because this is the day he changed the switch 360 flip game forever. Even in 2003, where stairs and rails where quite common place and quite large, Welsh’s three up three down switch 360 flip got fucking slow mo’d. Not cause it was a gnarly set, literally because he did a switch 360 flip that good. I didn’t even mention that he did a “hardflip” up the three to begin with, but he did, and that’s pretty insane too. You should notice too, that his beanie matches the lettering of his jersey almost perfectly. Peep game kids, that’s how you film a clip.

Fully Flared Welsh - Fully Flared Welsh is an interesting breed. I heard that he cuts his hair at the beginning of a video part and doesn’t cut it until the part is done. Well, seeing that this video took like five years to make, Welsh’s mane was out of control. The sweatpants are still a staple in his warddrobe, yet we notice a sharp decline in the cleanliness of his attire. If you watched the Fully Flared documentary, we even get a glimpse into actually how grimey this dude will live while on tour (note the stain on the foam roller, fucking insane). This might be my favorite Welsh because of his willingness to embrace is Maine-ness. He had his days out shining dudes at Pier 7 or cruising lines in full camo outfits, in his later career he just wanted to be comfortable and take care of business when he was out on tour. Big sweats, Telfords, and a dirty wife beater...now THAT is a dude from Maine if I’ve ever seen one. Fully ripping, too. Of course I wanted more, but the frontside flip to fakie manual pop out remains in my mind as one of the best Welsh clips ever. For real.

Team Manager Welsh - Welsh the T.M. has fully embraced the hesh lifestyle and I’ve got to say, if you asked me 10 years ago if I thought someone like Rob Welsh would ever make the switch from fresh to hesh I would have laughed in your face. But hey, times have changed. We’ve got a black president, a probably soon to be woman president, Biebel’s kits are slimmer, Eli went off the fashion deep end...I mean the lines are so much more blurred these days. Welsh is flannels, chinos, and chucks now, and I think if you look at the timeline of his outfits over the years he was always headed this way. He’s got responsibilities now; a team manager can’t be flossing harder than his riders, he needs to let them do the flossing (Aesthetics Welsh would be flossing the hardest on any team in any time period, period). He even put Remillard on Expo, another power hesh move, something again, had it been said to me 10 years ago I would have thought it so strange, it could have never worked. But hey look at those dudes, they got a solid team and aesthetic (pats self on the back) and they’re under management who knows good skating and style. Team Manager Welsh is all good in my book.