MM URL: http://www.modelmayhem.com/reddragonapparel
Tracing a family's roots can be a daunting investigation. When it comes to the Red Dragons, the writing of its now-iconic logo has been on the wall, literally, since the late 80's when the energetic teenage angst of Colin McKay, Rob "Sluggo" Boyce, Moses Itkonen and company exploded into the downtown Vancouver streets from the transitional haven of Kevin Harris' Richmond Skate Ranch.
"We swarmed in groups and it was always Red Dragons for years, spray-painting walls outside of the Ranch," Sluggo remarks. "It was FSU. There was no rhyme or reason to it - when life got in the way, we smashed it [laughs]."
RDS maintained underground crew status, achieving momentous notoriety amongst skateboarding's elite by the time it started showing signs of becoming a brand. This occurred when the first business venture, a skateshop, opened in '96 - North Vancouver's RDS skate Supply. Shortly after that, a full Red Dragon Apparel line, spearheaded by Moses in 1998, was distributed by Centre - the distribution house started by Colin and Sluggo in 1997. RDS as a skateshop, clothing company and crew went on to release its first video, RDS/FSU/2002, followed by Skateboard Party three years later. Along with Kevin Harris, they opened the massive 20,000-square-foot RDS Skatepark in Richmond, an indoor endeavor that spanned from '03 to '06.
"We were promoting Red Dragons as a crew for about eight years before any business came of it," recounts Moses Itkonen. "If there's a secret to our success, thats it right there." Sluggo adds: "It's loyalty and friendship that carries RDS. When the first video came out in 2002, some of the guys had other clothing sponsors, but they could fly under the radar and say RDS was their shop sponsor. Once you become a part of RDS, it's for life."
The well-established roots of this skateboard family has awarded them with cult status in far reaches of the world, and it attracted some of Canada's most talented to represent the apparel brand's continued evolution.
"These new guys aren't just riding for RDS because they get free clothes, they're riding for it because they like being a part of it's legacy," explains OG Red Dragons photographer and current plan B marketing director, Jody Morris. "You can't deny the fact that RDS as a crew has done a lot for Canadian skateboarding, and skateboarding, period."