Photos by Nadiia Rebrova
Skateboarding in 2018 is a strange beast.
On one hand, it’s a “sport” that’s going to be an event in the next Olympics. Venture capitalists are paying serious cash money for stakes in companies like Supreme and The Berrics. Sport’s shoe companies have flooded the market. Then, on the other side of the corporate coin, skaters these days seem to have a renewed respect for the tiny, DIY companies that are skater owned and skater run.
One example is The Details, a little board company out of Perth owned by a homegrown WA skater by the name of Barry Mansfield and his girlfriend Nadiia Rebrova, a Ukrainian artist and photographer with roots in the punk scene. I’m meeting the pair through a slightly delayed, intercontinental Skype call to chat about their new project.
“Do you skate?” Nadiia wants to know before we get started, so I explain that I’ve been pushing the wooden toy around for over 15 years and I still suck. They both nod, giving me guarded looks of approval as if to say, Okay, as long as we’re talking to a skater.
Barry has also been skating for about 15 or 16 years, though he’s got an effortless style, scored a pro model board on Folklore way back, circa 2005, and has just released his first solo part for The Details. Having grown up in Ukraine, where snow is on the roads for nine months of the year, Nadiia has only been skating for about a year and a half. Her main focus is skate photography though.
For now, The Details is just a three-man team: OG Perth shredder Cameron Owens, stylish Frenchman Fabian Zuffo and Barry himself. The brand has only been up and running for about six months, and their first video feature is in the works, set to drop later this year.
“As a skater, it’s everyone’s childhood dream to own a skate company,” Barry explains. “I guess the strength I needed was to meet my partner Nadiia. Her background is the punk scene… There was a lot of common ground.”
The lightbulb moment for the creation of The Details was when Barry saw some lino prints that Nadiia had done during an artist’s residency in Iceland. She was moving house and there was a pile of her linocuts on the floor, among them a hummingbird, a hand clutching some roses and a portrait of the legendary Minor Threat and Fugazi frontman Ian MacKaye. Barry convinced her that the images needed to become board graphics. Now they are, and they’re being sold in a whole bunch of skate shops in Perth and “over East”.
“For an artist, it’s like a dream,” Nadiia laughs. “You’ve got your art that you thought you were going to put on the shelf and never look at again and now there are little kids in Sydney that are skating at the skatepark and reposting [photos of] it with their friends.”
The Details’ aesthetic really stands out. Between the lino cut board graphics, grainy film photography and collage-style ad mock-ups, it’s not hard to see that both Nadiia and Barry are visual art kind of people. They run the company with a close eye, and they’re getting a good response both in Perth and on the East Coast. Barry explains that injecting a bit of diversity and ambition into the Perth skate scene is a big part of what The Details is about.
“The general Perth skate scene kind of dies out and then flourishes again and then dies out again,” says Barry. “Only a few progress to the top, to the point where they’re like, ‘I’m going to move to Melbourne and try to make this.’” Barry continues, “I had my chance with that but that’s why I decided to stay here and try to keep it in Perth: so that [skaters] don’t have to move to Melbourne to do something big.”
Since Perth is one of the most isolated cities in the world, it makes sense that the city’s best skaters tend to move away. There are simply more opportunities in Melbourne or Sydney. Then, if you really make it, you move to the US. Some pretty big names—guys like Nick Boserio and Andrew Brophy—have come out of Perth, but they don’t live there anymore.
“Supporting the local scene is very important,” Nadiia agrees. “We’ve got a company and there are heaps of mates… Obviously if we see the passion we’re happy to give out a few boards to our mates just because we want to support them and acknowledge their awesome skating.”
Being so isolated, it’s not just the Perth skate scene that needs love. Nadiia explains that there’s a lot of space for arts and music to grow in the West. “Arts are not funded here so heaps of venues have shut down throughout the last few years, and then it’s really hard to organise an exhibition because there are only three spaces that you can apply for and they’d be booked for the next half a year. We’ve got a few bars, but you go there every Saturday and you get sick of it.”
“I’m trying to contribute and make the place better but every now and then, everyone just gives up and moves to Melbourne,” she laughs.
Rather than move away for good, Barry, Nadiia and filmer Phil James recently took a trip to the US to get some footage for The Details first proper video project. “We were just staying in Motel 6’s and not really having anything too planned,” Barry recalls. “It was really mellow, it worked out really well.”
Barry must be an optimist because when he gets to the part of the story where they arrived in San Francisco, it doesn’t actually sound mellow at all. “Within the first hour of being there we had all our shit stolen, which was fucked. Our hire car got broken into. It was really hectic.”
Without bitterness, he explains, “We lost like nine or 10 grand worth of equipment. We weren’t insured at all, the cops couldn’t do anything and it was just long gone.”
Aside from their laptops, cameras and a whole bunch of rolls of film, Nadiia’s Ukrainian passport and Australian visa got pinched, which saw her spending the next few days waiting in the embassy for a new one. But it was losing the film photos that really bummed Nadiia out. “I was really devastated… Australia’s so safe so we didn’t really realise how bad the situation is in the US,” she says.
“It was a crazy trip man, we saw some crazy shit,” says Barry, but if there was a silver lining, it’s that filmer Phil James was out skating and he had his VX1000 on him. The skate footage wasn’t lost. Plus there’s 12 rolls of Super 8 to add to the edit. So keep your eyes peeled for The Details first vid.
“It’s quite a lot of work,” says Barry. “It’s really hard because I’ve never really edited a video before.