of the hand-painted leather jackets created by
Olympic gold medal-winning snowboarder and
entrepreneur Shaun White, photographed inside the
showroom of his fashion line WHT Space, on Aug. 9,
2016 in downtown Los Angeles.
ANGELES ó Shaun White, the two-time Olympic
gold-medal-winning snowboarder whose aerial feats are
enough to make you leap out of your skin, is finally
comfortable in his own.
never go back to my 20s," White says during a
recent interview in the downtown L.A. Arts District.
"Well, maybe a few of the (years in the) later 20s,
but Iím much happier now."
certainly looks relaxed and, well, happy. In early
August, less than a month before his 30th birthday, the
pro snowboarder and skateboarder is kicked back on a
couch in a shared atelier and office space surrounded by
a few rolling racks of clothes, a makeshift conference
table and a couple of desks. On one of those desks sits
a framed black-and-white photograph of a longer-haired
version of himself with Rolling Stones frontman Mick
Jagger. On the white brick wall behind him hang a series
of black motorcycle jackets decorated with white paint.
next day heís going wheels up to Rio de Janeiro, where
heíll do some on-air commentary for NBC ó and
officially put the world on notice that heís training
for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyongyang, South
Korea. But today, the athlete-turned-businessman (or
"Shauntrepreneur," as one associate jokingly
calls him) is eager to talk about his recently launched
menís clothing line, WHT Space.
dressed in all black: a tone-on-tone graphic print WHT
Space T-shirt paired with slim-fit AllSaints jeans,
black lace-up Vans sneakers and a black baseball-style
cap embroidered with the name Air + Style (a music and
snowboarding festival he bought in 2014). Heís kitted
out in gold accessories: a gold Rolex adorns his right
wrist, a gold chain link bracelet encircles the left;
one finger on each hand is graced by a chunky gold ring
emblazoned with the Olympic logo (one representing each
of his gold medal years 2006 and 2010); and tucked
inside his tee are three gold chains in varying styles,
including one studded with tiny diamonds.
got used to wearing jewelry because of the rings, which
you get from the U.S. Olympic team," White
explains. "And since they were already gold, I
couldnít really wear silver." The gold chains, he
says, were an impulse purchase made after seeing the
music video for Trinidad Jamesí "All Gold
Everything." White cracks a wide smile and adds:
"I bought three so people wouldnít call me 2
may sound like a silly aside, but after spending a few
hours with White it becomes clear that even his
over-the-top wardrobe choices are thoughtfully made ó
like the American flag trousers he wore on the cover of
Rolling Stone back in 2010. "I set silly goals for
myself, and Iíd decided that if I won the Olympics a
second time and got invited to be on the cover again, Iíd
wear the American flag shorts that Axl Rose had been
(seen) wearing," he says. When the call came, he
opted for a longer pair of star-spangled pants, which he
had custom made by the L.A.-based Kill Spencer label.
is hardly new to the apparel arena. He and his older
brother Jesse have been designing technical snowboarding
gear for Burtonís White Collection since White was
barely in his teens.
lot of people donít know this," White says,
"but the first boot we designed for Burton had this
puffed quilted pattern inspired by a quilted Chanel bag
my brother had seen. That boot really blew up and was a
segue to us doing more products." (Burton is a
White sponsor, as is eyewear brand Oakley, whose
White-designed Holbrook sunglasses became a
first foray into off-the-slopes clothes came in 2008
when Target tapped him for a streetwear collection aimed
squarely at his young-boy fan base. Over the course of
eight years, Shaun White for Target expanded to offer
footwear, accessories and even a handful of quirky home
goods. Eventually, White says, he outgrew the line ó
were shooting images for look books and in-store
displays and that sort of thing," he recounts,
"and I donít fit the clothes anymore. We had to
make extra-large samples, so (this) was a natural segue.
The Target line was full of these pops of color ó
greens, reds and blues, and (WHT Space) was designed by
pretty much going through my closet, which is full of
grays, whites and blacks."
who grew up near San Diego and currently calls the Los
Angeles area home (he has a place in Malibu and another
in the Hollywood Hills), says the aesthetic shift
reflected in his closet came partly as a result of time
spent on the East Coast looking for an apartment.
wear all-black a lot in New York," he notes.
"Itís a thing."
changing vibe also came with age. "Slowly, as I got
older, my taste went in this direction," White
says, gesturing a sharp left turn. "I had some
money at that point, and I was appearing on late-night
television shows and going to red-carpet events where I
wanted to wear suits."
he does don a suit, his short list of go-to labels
includes Saint Laurent ("If I need a suit the night
of (an event), the suits pretty much fit me right off
the rack," he says), Japanese label N. Hoolywood,
Tom Ford and Burberry.
from a practical business perspective, White is eager to
avoid becoming the branding equivalent of a specimen
trapped in amber. "This isnít necessarily bad ó
and I love Tony," he says, referring to his mentor,
the legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk, whose namesake
label skews toward a demographic that wasnít even born
when it launched in 1999. "But he never aged up. He
stayed in that younger clothing place, and thatís
where (his brand) lives."
in the pursuit of authenticity, White and his design
director Daniel Golden decided that the starting point
would be some of the athleteís favorite pieces from
his own wardrobe: a notch lapel faux leather motorcycle
jacket ($98) takes inspiration from a vintage leather
version found on a trip to South Korea; and an ivory
short-sleeve button-down ($48) with an allover diamond
print riffs on one of his favorite shirts. That shirt
ó and several others in the mix ó are
reverse-printed so the patterns are slightly subtler, an
effect inspired by a vintage reverse-print Bob Dylan
to Macyís stores and Macys.com for the first year, the
debut pre-fall 2016 collection of 20 pieces that hit
store shelves in mid-June includes a range of T-shirts
($24), button-fronts ($48), hoodies (ranging from $38 to
$48), a few bomber jackets ($98), a long-sleeve T-shirt
($30) and a pair of white slim-fit jeans ($68). A
sophomore collection is currently slated to hit stores
in early November, and thereís another season in the (half)pipeline
mentions ó for a second time ó how much he enjoys
this side project.
living in my own skin, which is nice," he says.
"Itís exciting to see someone wearing one of (my)
shirts. Itís, like, ĎWow. This person stood in front
of a whole rack of stuff and liked mine whether they
knew it was mine or not.í Itís such a fulfilling
STORY CAN END HERE)
so fulfilling, mind you, that heís giving up the day
job that brought him fame and fortune in the first
place. Yes, he took some time off after a disappointing
finish in the Sochi Olympics in 2014, and yes, 2016
started out under a cloud because of a sexual harassment
lawsuit filed recently by the drummer in his now-defunct
band Bad Things. (When details of the claims went viral
last week while he was in Rio de Janeiro, White said
through his attorney that the suit is baseless.)
as for the future, heíll soon be heading to New
Zealand to start training for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
then thereís the Aug. 3 International Olympic
Committee announcement that his other professional sport
ó skateboarding ó would be one of the new sports in
the lineup at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
depends on the format, which they havenít announced
yet," he says about the prospect of a summer run
for gold. "So Iíll have to cross that bridge when
I come to it. Ö But Iíve already been running tricks
in my head. To be a winter Olympian and a summer
Olympian would be so amazing."