BY CHLOE STUART
A sport synonymous with the 1950s and 1970s is making an unexpected comeback during lockdown, with a new generation of skaters ready to roll.
COVID-19 restrictions have inspired a roller skating revival, with TikTok leading the way for beginners to take up the hobby and participate in the Moxi Skate Daily challenge.
The challenge, created by Californian skating brand Moxi Skates in 2017, originally formed part of a competition to win a free pair of roller skates.
The resulting surge in demand for roller skates has led many to believe there is a worldwide roller skate shortage.
Melbourne resident Ellie Toss, 24, recently took up roller skating after two of her close friends adopted the hobby during lockdown.
“I’ve only been skating for a couple of months, since the start of stage three lockdown in Melbourne,” Ms Toss said.
“I think people are looking for a hobby that gets them out of the house and gets them active and socialising. Roller skating has all of those things.
“It’s crazy that the demand is so high.
“There was only one shop left in Melbourne that stocked Impala Skates when I bought a pair.”
Impala Skate was founded in Melbourne in 2017, first selling roller skates before expanding its range to include inline skates, skateboards, apparel and accessories.
The brand’s retro-aesthetic inspired by the 1970s, coupled with its appeal to young women, is believed to have been largely responsible for roller skating’s revival.
Impala Skate CEO Matt Hill described the demand for skates as “truly unprecedented”, with sales increasing monthly for the past 18 months and substantially sharpening in the past few months.
“Demand has been huge and we are hustling to keep up,” Mr Hill said.
“That energy really fed on itself when we saw [the] roller skating trend on TikTok, with some fun videos that had a viral expansion into mainstream media.”
The skate brand’s philosophy revolves largely around inclusivity, with its aim to “foster a community that is encouraging, supportive and welcoming of all”.
“We love that skating is helping people get through lockdown, keep healthy, and stay connected as a community during a time that can otherwise feel quite isolating,” he said.
Madison Quail is a roller skating teacher and enthusiast also based in Melbourne.
As a roller skater of almost 10 years, Ms Quail and her friend made the decision to start their business, Rad Roller Skating, in 2018 with the goal of sharing their skills and educating as many aspiring skaters as possible.
“People all over are learning net skills and gaining confidence in a sport that most people’s mothers only told them about,” Ms Quail said.
Ms Quail believes the shift in demand for skates could be attributed to the growing number of options available to beginners.
“These days there are more brands and skating is more accessible to everyone. It’s becoming more mainstream, especially as people look for things to do during lockdown,” she said.
Ms Quail said roller skating contributes towards a general sense of well being.
“Skating brightens your life,” she said.
“It improves your mental and physical health, creates a sense of community of inclusive and safe spaces, it’s a fab activity to share with your friends...I can’t talk it up enough.”
Aspiring roller skaters from Melbourne need not look far to get involved.
“There’s a fantastic group of skaters called Melbourne Skate Odyssey,” she said.
“They’re a group that have been living and skating here for ages.”