Something primal about a skateboarder, huh? Something beautiful about a skateboarder, huh? Take glue, take wood, take rubber, take metal. Drill it all together and find the magic. Something alchemical about a skateboarder? Something vital about a skateboarder? They show us what’s possible, what’s primal. Something real about a skateboarder like Leandre Sanders, huh? Tall. Chandelier-bright smile. Heat and soul and guts in the wind. 25-years-old. The first attempt at the infamous ollie at age 8. Born and bred in none other than Venice, California—the land where the going gets weird and the weird turn motherfucking pro!
With such a mythical backdrop, and its sinking sherbet sun, it’s hard to imagine that anything could be better than that kinetic mind-body connection so few of us on planet Earth ever come close to tasting. Yet here we are, with an infinite stretch of sea cradling said sun as it recedes o’er the axis, ready to contemplate the space between chunky sneaker and deck. So without wasting any more valuable time on metaphors and anomalies, let’s chat with the man himself about his craft, what compels his laugh, and before we’ve any more chances to rhyme, what he might be skating toward after this convo has run its course.
What is it, Leandre, about skateboarding that compelled you to give your life over to it?
Skateboarding changed my life. It kept me out of trouble. It made me happy, and I loved it more than school. I wouldn’t go to school if I didn’t take my board with me.
Why do skateboarding and fashion intersect so well?
Skateboarding is such an open culture. I like dressing weird. Skateboarders are easy to work with. I feel like they’re supposed to be together. I grew up in Venice where weird is cool. I feel like New York has the best skating and fashion, though. In New York you see it all. LA has it, but it’s a different type of style. New York really has that fashion-skate thing hardcore.
Favorite pastime aside from skateboarding?
I get that question a lot. Hanging out with my dog, Missy, probably. I named her after Missy Elliott—she’s bound for Hollywood. I also like going to the beach because of the nature. It opens my mind. Whenever I’m stressed out, I go to the beach. Even when I don’t want to skate, and I end up going to the beach, I’m going to skate— that’s how much the beach puts me in a good vibe.
How often are you skating?
Every day. I recently went to Florida for a skate contest, the Tampa Pro—it was my first pro contest—and I kind of slowed down because of a knee and toe injury, but otherwise I skate every day.
What is the greatest gift you’ve ever been given?
My dad gave me my first skateboard. It gave me so much in return—I have my own place to live, I have a pro-model board, living an adult life, and I’m super proud because my skateboard gave me that. And then of course meeting people and traveling around the world. It changed my whole life.
What exactly do you mean when you say you’re skateboarding everyday?
Well, I don’t want to take it too seriously, because I feel like whenever I take it seriously, something goes wrong. I just like having fun. But I skate every day and bust my ass, but in terms of transportation, I use my car more than the skateboard.
What do you hope to offer the world through skateboarding?
I know there are so many kids and people in this world that could have their lives changed by a little piece of wood. I would love to show the world that, and have a brand myself, so I can help other people coming up and show them that it’s possible to be something. And you can start not knowing how to ollie or kickflip, and you can make your dream come true. I see a lot of people get big from skateboarding and do other things—rapping, acting. And I came from nothing. Literally nothing. Like $2.50. $5 for me and my brother to split every day. We had to go from Inglewood to Venice Beach on $2.50 for the day. So I believe that if I can change my world with skateboarding, then I also believe other people can do the same thing.
Photographed by Shane McCauley
Styled by Britton Litow
Groomer: Josephine Wissenberg at Crosby Carter Management
Videographer: Mason DePaco