Cruising Around in Celine with the Sk8r Carlisle Aikens
For Carlisle Aikens, skating around Los Angeles with friends after school was just a hobby—until it wasn’t. “There was a moment when all my friends stopped,” he says, “and I kept doing it.” Now, just two years since the 22-year-old made the move across the country to New York, Aikens has made quick work of the city’s skate and fashion scene: he inked a sponsorship agreement with Adidas, and recently signed with Next Models. Interview spent the day getting to know Aikens, who was decked out in head-to-toe Celine for the occasion. From what we can tell, this skater is just getting started. —ERNESTO MACIAS
FRED SAHAI: How did you get into skateboarding?
CARLISLE AIKENS: My friends and I started in junior high school. We rode our skateboards together every day at school. We always got together after class let out, learning tricks, and things progressed from there.
SAHAI: Can you pinpoint a moment where it went from being a hobby to something you wanted to do more seriously?
AIKENS: There was a moment when all my friends stopped skating and I kept doing it. I was getting decent at it, getting better. People started to hit me up for sponsorships and whatnot, and that was the point where I transitioned into thinking, “Can I actually do this for a living?” I had always done it for fun, so I never really thought about that.
SAHAI: Where are you from originally?
AIKENS: I was born in Chicago, Illinois. Hyde Park. Then I moved to L.A. around 10, which was where I started skating as well. Then I moved to Brooklyn when I was 20. It’s been two years.
SAHAI: What’s your favorite thing about New York City?
AIKENS: I love how people are able to just go outside and do their own thing; it’s all super fast-paced. Compared to where I lived in L.A., that pace is what I always wanted. And to be around all these beautiful buildings is really aesthetically pleasing. I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid and my sister lived here for 17 years.
SAHAI: What are you doing when you’re not skating?
AIKENS: I’m modeling, I guess. I play the piano a little bit, and I love reading. I travel too, mainly for skating. The neat thing about skateboarding is, you don’t need to be bound to one place to do it. I can literally go to Paris and still do my job there. So that’s cool.
SAHAI: Where’s the last place you traveled?
AIKENS: I just went to Costa Rica a couple of weeks ago. I’d never been there and it was super beautiful, gorgeous. It was an escape trip. The skate scene’s not too big out there but they do have some stuff. It felt like more of a vacation for sure.
SAHAI: What’s the last book you read?
AIKENS: I am currently reading Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey. It’s so good and it’s about his life. He talks about journaling, traveling, the movies he’s done, and how he felt around those times. I feel like it’s very relatable to me because he’s doing the thing I want to do. So it’s cool to see what his life was like.
SAHAI: How did you get signed, how’d you get into modeling?
AIKENS: I had a friend named Luca. He skates. Super handsome guy. I knew he modeled, and I knew I wanted to get signed. So he connected me with Next Models. I’m fairly new, but that’s how it happened. And here we are.
SAHAI: I was on your Instagram and you take a lot of pictures. Do you dabble in photography?
AIKENS: Yeah. I wouldn’t say I’m good at it, but I do try.
SAHAI: What inspires you?
AIKENS: Fire escapes on buildings. I love that for some reason. I’m really big on architecture and taking pictures of my friends. A lot of my friends don’t take pictures so I make sure I’m always capturing the moment.
SAHAI: What do you like to do with your friends, apart from skating?
AIKENS: Go out to drink, have fun at a party. I skate every day. I’m a very spontaneous person, so I like to jump and do things, and they’re always down.
SAHAI: What are you listening to right now?
AIKENS: I like a lot of R&B and rap. I really like Young Phil. He’s a newer rapper. He’s pretty catchy so I’ve been listening to a lot of that shit. Amy Winehouse.
SAHAI: I think it’s the anniversary of her passing today actually.
AIKENS: I’m gonna Google that after this. I was raised on a lot of house music. My mom was really famous in Chicago actually. She still is. She does annual parties and a bunch of people pay to come see her DJ. I love house music. I try to incorporate it into a lot of my skating videos.
SAHAI: How would you describe your personal style?
AIKENS: I like to be comfortable. I usually dress based on what I can skate in, so I like really baggy pants. So, being free, natural, and having that freedom to move my legs and arms.
SAHAI: Are there any designers you feel like you gravitate towards?
AIKENS: I was never really into things like that because I’m just a skater. I mean there are certain skate brands I like more than others. But designer-wise, I mean, I always loved all of my mom’s Celine. It’s still definitely a new world to me that I’m starting to get into.
SAHAI: What are you looking forward to right now?
AIKENS: I’m looking forward to going outside and skating. I’m working on projects with my sponsors right now. But also just filming everyday street skateboarding. Reading, a lot more hopefully, and traveling.
SAHAI: Last question, what’s your favorite place you’ve ever skated?
AIKENS: I love skating in New York. Nothing will ever beat it. Like, from a filming perspective, there’s so much more life in New York than in L.A. In skate videos, L.A. is gray. Here, you’ll see everyone and everything in the background. There is a lot more going on.
Special Thanks: Polaroid