Photography by Mr Matt Irwin | Styling by Mr Gaelle Paul
Words by Mr Yale Breslin
Although he is a well-known daredevil on the snow, Mr Shaun White isn't your prototypical sports figure. With recent ventures seeing him develop an affinity for fashion and even test out his acting chops in the romantic comedy Friends With Benefits starring Mr Justin Timberlake and Ms Mila Kunis, the skate- and snowboarding star is keen to shake off any previous labelling. We caught up with Mr White in his home town of LA, a few days before he was due to compete in the Winter X Games, and found out why the main objective for the 25-year-old snowboarder is simply to have a good time.
You are about to head to Aspen for the Winter X Games. Are you excited?
Always. It's cool because all these events are at night and they put spotlights on the jumps. During the daytime it's hard to see because if the sky is overcast the snow matches it and everything is grey, and when you're doing multiple flips you don't really know where you are. I like competing at night, it reminds me of the triumphant moments in old football movies.
What else are you working on?
I've been practising a bunch of new flip-style tricks, which is great because they are for an event that is new to the Winter Olympics in 2014. It's pretty exciting that this type of sport is going to get world stage recognition. Outside of boarding I've been doing a lot of design work with my brother for a streetwear label.
Are you enjoying designing?
It's fun. I started doing it a long time ago. I didn't know if I'd be into it but then you see someone wearing something that you made and there's a sense of ownership. We've been doing fittings, looking at Pantone colour books. I've learnt a lot.
My lifestyle off the hill is totally different. With fashion I'm geared towards styles that are driven by musicians. I've always worn tight jeans and suit jackets
You are a daredevil by default. Do you take a similar approach when it comes to style?
I love to compete but as far as being a daredevil, that's the furthest thing from me. My lifestyle off the hill is totally different. I guess when it comes to fashion I'm geared more towards styles that are driven by musicians. I've always worn tighter jeans, sports coats and suit jackets.
Which musicians do you consider style icons?
My favourite band is Led Zeppelin, they were always out there with moons and dragons embroidered on their trousers - they were way into sorcery. Robert Plant was always wearing something that was borderline androgynous. And he was killing it. A lot of my friends were into the hip-hop scene and I took a left turn and went the other direction.
Is that difficult given your profession?
I got frustrated recently because my on-hill and off-hill personalities didn't match. I took a stance at one point and started wearing skinnier trousers on the hill.
Did it turn out to be a big topic of discussion?
It was so funny because I wore these slim trousers when I won the X Games last year but nobody seemed to care about the win. The only thing people were saying was, "Did you see his trousers!" and "How did you move down the hill?" I was on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien the other week and they only wanted to talk about the trousers.
From the slopes...
Mr White in action on the Snowboard SuperPipe at the Winter X Games in which he achieved an unprecedented perfect score and took his fifth consecutive gold medal; Buttermilk Mountain, Colorado, 29 January 2012
to the screen...
From left: Ms Mila Kunis, Mr White and Mr Justin Timberlake in the 2011 romantic comedy Friends With Benefits
to the red carpet
Mr White arriving at the 16th Annual GQ Men of the Year Party held at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, Los Angeles, November 2011
What is your most recent purchase?
I bought some crazy expensive shoes that I had to have. I wore them to the GQ Men of the Year Party. I knew all these cool guys were going to be there and I figured I needed to step it up. I used to be the guy who would buy nice stuff and then save it for an occasion, but then I realised that I could just buy new shoes for those occasions. Why save them?
Your hair has always been a talking point. Is there anything you won't wear that you think clashes with it?
I think I look better in certain colours, I probably wouldn't wear yellow or mustard tones. I was told I should never wear red, but I don't think the girl who told me that was a very reliable source. I think she had her own hang-ups. I actually wore more red after she gave me her two cents. I usually like to do the opposite.
As an Olympic gold medallist, who or what are you looking forward to watching at this year's event?
Gymnastics. It was my first introduction to the Olympics when I was a kid. We would always watch it at home when I was growing up.
I wore slim trousers when I won the X Games last year but nobody seemed to care about the win. All people were saying was, 'Did you see his trousers!'
After your cameo appearance in Friends With Benefits, is acting something you would like to do more of?
It was definitely something that put me out of my element, but I found it really exciting and intriguing. Going to the premiere in New York was great. I'd love to do more acting but nothing has really piqued my interest yet.
What is the one thing people always assume about you that's not true?
People always think I'm going to act a certain way because I have sponsors and various things in my life that are very corporate. At the end of the day I'm a 25-year-old guy in the action sports world. And I like to have a good time.
What do you consider to be the best thing about your life?
The freedom. I get to do the things that I like to do. I look at other sports figures and they have so many things that they have to do and there is always someone younger and stronger trying to take their place. I find I'm in a sport where you need to be inspired. I'm not the biggest or strongest guy competing - but I can definitely do things a little differently. I get to design clothes, be in movies. I'm not really limited by my sport.