My first book Flat Track Fashion: The Roller Derby Look Book has just been published this week. I spent a lot of time over the last year putting this project together, and now that it is finally finished, I can’t believe it’s real! I’m so pleased with the way the book has turned out.
Writing has always been a big passion of mine. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager and studied English literature at university, both for my undergraduate degree and my Masters. After I finished studying, I continued to write fiction and poetry on my own and as part of a writing group, as well as bits of journalism here and there wherever I found an opportunity.
While I was still a postgraduate student, I got my first job working in publishing. I have since become an editor for a small publishing company and although editing books is a job I enjoy very much, there is nothing I enjoy more than having a large writing project to get my teeth into, other than playing roller derby of course!
In my previous job, the editorial department I used to work in had meetings every month where ideas for new books would be presented and discussed and then were eventually commissioned if they were deemed to be ‘good ideas’. At the time I started working there, I was just getting into roller derby. My colleagues listened and looked on in horror as I told them all my stories of what we did at practice, came in with bruises, played my first bout and fell in love with the sport. After I had been playing for a while, I started suggesting to my boss that we should publish a book about roller derby. I never dreamed that she would take the idea seriously and at first she laughed it off but I kept talking to her about the idea until one day she said ‘Ok then, write me a proposal’. So I did. I was editing fashion books at the time so I thought it would be great to make a beautifully designed, illustrated book with photos from all the leagues that have formed all over the world and really showcase the whole culture and style of roller derby and how it has developed over the years.
To my surprise, the company really liked the idea so I suggested that I write the book and manage the project myself. I really enjoyed the challenge and researching and writing about it all. There are chapters on everything from the history and origin of the sport to uniforms and logos, personal styles and fashions from leagues around the world, protective gear and skates, including the history of the roller skate, to menswear, referees and men’s roller derby, make up and tattoos, as well as a Foreword written by veteran skater Virginia ‘Cheap Trixie’ Evans of the Texas Rollergirls. I wrote to leagues all over the world and got some pretty amazing photos of some very stylish rollergirls from around the globe. We also did an exclusive fashion photo shoot with rollergirl models from London Rollergirls, London Rockin Rollers and Croydon Roller Derby especially for the book here in London in the atmospherically moody setting of a graffiti spattered tunnel under Waterloo station.
Photo by Danny Bourne
Photo by Danny Bourne
You can view a sample of the book here:
Check out the Facebook page:
Watch a video about the book here:
Or buy the book here:
Here are some great roller derby gift ideas
A subscription to Fiveonfive
Customizable Pivotstar trackstar hoodie
Derby or die water bottle
Derby skinz in a variety of colours and patterns
Skate cardigan by Wicked Skatewear
Custom helmet sticker with your name and number
A subscription to Inside Line magazine
Gumball toe stops
Antik AR1 skate package
Bad Ass socks
Need new knee pads? Wanna be the hottest rollergirl or guy on the track? Here is a most comprehensive list of roller derby suppliers for all your derby needs.
Roller Derby Clothing
Café Press- roller derby gifts
Opus Oils – roller derby perfume
http://www.team-colours.co.uk/roller-derby/ (bespoke uniforms)
Skulls and Rainbows
Free Radicals HQ
Skates, Pads and Other Kit
Planet on Wheels
Cruz Skate Shop
Rocky Mountain Skates
Low Price Skates
Skates n Such
Fast Girl Skates
Roller Guy Skates
As you may have noticed from my blog page, I LOVE animal print and there are some great animal pieces out there at the moment. Leopard print is the all-time favourite of mine both on and off the track so here are some of my favourite leopard print items around at the moment. Of course, second hand is always preferable for green minded people out there, and often more interesting or creative. However, the high street can be good too if you don’t have time to go trawling through the charity shops.
All over London I see people wearing fabulous leopard print scarves. I think this one from ASOS is pretty good. A bit of animal can just brighten up an otherwise totally boring outfit.
Another great shop for all things animal that I have discovered lately is Collectif. http://www.collectif.co.uk/
It specialises in vintage and rockabilly clothing and has some excellent leopard print items at the moment. I think this leopard-trimmed bolero is lovely.
They also do some great leopard trousers in either traditional or snow leopard
This leopard trimmed dress is fabulous too
My favourite on-track leopard item right now is this pair of pink leopard hotpants from retrorebels.com. True derby style: they’re grrrrrrrrreat!
Fashion has always been a big part of roller derby as it is a medium of self expression. How many other sports can you name that feature players decked out in fishnet tights and miniskirts, knee high socks and gold hotpants as well as a showcase of tattoos? Roller derby is a sport, but it has also has its roots firmly planted in performance and the look is part of the whole package. And, as with athletic experience, there is room for all styles from pin-up and vintage looks to punk, goth, athletic sportswear, to nu-rave neon and though team mates are often unified by an overall uniform design or colour scheme, there is plenty of room for individual style and interpretation.
From the very origins of the sport, fashion always had its place and the original roller derby stars such as Ann Calvello used personal style to express themselves as larger than life characters on the track. In her derby memoir Rollergirl, Melissa Joulwan describes Calvello’s style: ‘Ann, a proud Leo, decked herself out with lions-on the rings she always wore, her eyeglasses, her eight tattoos…When the management gave her a new jersey, she’d attack the neckline with scissors, all the better to show off her assets…Her hair was a rainbow of colours: Wendy O. Williams platinum blonde, green for St. Patrick’s Day, lavender, fire engine red, blue, hot pink, even polka dots. She wore a scarf around her slender neck, and it fluttered in the wind she generated as she sped around the track, her black pivot’s helmet tipped at a rakish angle on her head.’
With the rapid growth of the sport over the last few years, derby fashion is getting more and more attention from the media. It seems everyone wants a piece of the action- In 2009 Sophie Kercher wrote an article for the LA Times detailing how the sport and its wiley fashions are infiltrating mainstream culture and large high street brands and retailers. Kercher writes: ‘Search keyword “derby” on forever21.com and you’ll find look-at-me silver hot pants. Do the same at Hot Topic and you’ll come up with a ruffled plaid mini; skate-shaped charms; a black wristband emblazoned with the phrase “talk derby to me”; and knockoff Derby Dolls tees. Even the more staid Nordstrom offers derby-inspired fashion. Our favorite is a Jean Paul Gaultier velvet pencil skirt with a provocative fishnet inset that looks like a naughty window to the thigh.’
She’s not the only one to comment on this in the mainstream media either. Marie Claire also jumped on the derby fashion bandwagon in 2009 featuring cover girls Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page, stars of the first feature length film on roller derby: Whip It to accompany an interview by Jessica Henderson- they even put together a series of outfits inspired by the sport. Many independent clothing lines such as Wicked Skatewear, Pivot Star, Dolled Up Derby and Derby Skinz have been launched to cater to skaters’ needs and ensure they can play in maximum style and custom hotpants are now readily available from a whole host of different sources.
Some people seem to be of the opinion that fishnets and the like are on the way out because they detract from the seriousness of the sport and take the focus away from its athleticism but i think there is plenty of room for fashion and sport to coexist and be taken seriously. I say keep rockin’ those hotpants!