Geoff Rowley and Vans Celebrate 20 Years of Skateboarding Progression

Congratulations to Geoff Rowley and Vans for a 20-year partnership of pushing skateboarding over the edge and off the wall. From blasting over 52-foot tall container gaps and launching from tall buildings, with no fear in sight, Rowley has rolled his way to the pinnacles of what is possible on a skateboard. As Rowley explains it, “Commitment is the key to progression.”

With a team of the world’s best photographers, Rowley has taken us places that we never thought we’d go through his valiant skateboarding ability and the stellar lens work of the photographers, resulting in iconic images that only these unique and dynamic combinations could produce.

In regards to the legendary 50-50 that Rowley landed at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in 1999, with Daniel Harold Sturt there to capture the moment on film, Rowley recalls, “It was the first spot that I skated of that magnitude… I looked at it and thought, “I can do this. That’s all I was thinking… pushing yourself longer, further, faster.”

Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA 
Photo Credit: Daniel Harold Sturt

To commemorate the two decades that Vans and Rowley have been collaborating, as well as a tribute to one of the burliest tricks ever done, Vans has erected a bronze statue of Rowley at the L.A. Convention Center hubba, where his legendary 50-50 took place.

According to Vans, “Rowley’s monument sits at the top of the stairs on the Convention Center’s North Plaza on Chick Hearn Court and will live there for 30 days as a tribute to skateboarding and Vans’ recognition of the sport’s magnitude in our culture.”

Not only has Rowley surpassed what many believed was doable on a wooden toy with four wheels and two trucks, he is also credited with a return to the soul of the Vans sole with the “innovative Rowley Pro, the shoe that single-handedly spawned the rebirth of the vulcanized skate shoe and ushered in an era of slimmer-fitting, higher-performing skate shoes.”

Congrats to Geoff Rowley and Vans, and thanks to Steve Van Doren and the Van Doren family for always staying committed to the legacy and contributions of the pioneers and innovators of skateboarding.

Photo credit: Burnett

PRESS RELEASE

Since 1966, Vans has championed skateboarders, supporting the iconoclasts who pushed boundaries within action sports and brazenly lived for what they believe in. Over the last two decades, legendary British skateboarder Geoff Rowley has epitomized this ethos, living and breathing an “Off The Wall” mentality all his own, and progressing skateboarding with a level of rawness the world had yet to behold. As Rowley characteristically puts it, if my body can handle it, I will push it till the day that I die.”

Vans reflects on Rowley’s 20-year career on the Vans team with ‘Rowley Vs,’ a new chapter of the brand’s THIS IS OFF THE WALL campaign. An homage to the defining moments of adversaries overcome in Rowley’s prolific career, Vans pairs archival video and personal insight into the history of Rowley’s skateboarding evolution, and succinctly conveys his enduring mindset throughout the grueling process.

Lipslide Handrail. Photo Credit: Daniel Harold Sturt

For 20 years, it’s been Rowley versus his skateboard. And with that, came an industry in need of constant change. From the rough and tumble streets of his childhood Liverpool to charging the biggest handrails, steepest stair sets, and most death-defying gaps around the world, Geoff has always approached skating with tenacity and grit. Not pain, fear, convention, or apathy could stop him from making his mark on skateboarding. Rowley emerged from the rubble as a true pioneer, inspiring a generation of skateboarders to surpass the improbable on a skateboard, and he did it all while keeping his integrity intact. 

Chief among the series is his 50-50 on the Staples Center hubba in Los Angeles in 1999. The iconic trick on the chest high ledge—still one of the gnarliest spots ever skated—cemented Rowley as a force to be reckoned with, and laid the groundwork for the release of his innovative Rowley Pro, the shoe that single-handedly spawned the rebirth of the vulcanized skate shoe and ushered in an era of slimmer-fitting, higher-performing skate shoes.

Geoff Rowley
Photo by Julien Lachaussee

To commemorate this historic moment and Rowley’s overall contribution to skateboarding, Vans has erected a bronze statue of the icon himself at the LA Convention Center hubba, where the trick took place. Rowley’s monument sits at the top of the stairs on the Convention Center’s North Plaza on Chick Hearn Court and will live there for 30 days as a tribute to skateboarding and Vans’ recognition of the sport’s magnitude in our culture.

Container Gap, Long Beach, CA 
Photo Credit: Ryan Allan

Geoff’s vision and commitment to finding spots no one else would ever even dream of has defined his career. Among the many death-defying spots he’s skated over the years, none stand out more than the 52-foot tall container gap, which finds itself at the center of another short film in the ‘Rowley Vs’ series. “Commitment is the key to progression,” says Rowley, and with the container gap, it was “full commitment or you might never get to skate again.” With no second chances he frontside 180-ed the gap, marking one of the most unbelievable mental and physical victories ever filmed in skateboarding. Further proof that it’s in Rowley’s DNA to try the hardest trick, at the sketchiest spot, with full willingness to commit in the face of the ultimate consequence.

Photo Credit: Burnett

To engage the global Vans community and acknowledge Rowley’s international impact, the ‘Rowley Vs’ campaign will expand beyond the digital campaign with physical activations worldwide, at House of Vans locations and skateparks from Liverpool to Paris. Throughout August and September, the digital presence of ‘Rowley Vs’ will include the aforementioned shorts and a much anticipated, all-new Rowley video part, to be released by Thrasher Magazine online. In 2000, Rowley won Thrasher Magazine’s coveted Skater of the Year award, and in 2019, he’ll remind everyone why he’s a certified legend.

“Rowley Vs” expands on Vans’ THIS IS OFF THE WALL narrative, a campaign that defines what “Off The Wall” means through a diverse series of digital storytelling, contests, and immersive experiences that inspire, enable and support global creative communities. For more information on the ‘Rowley Vs’ series visit Vans.com/rowley and Vans.com/offthewall, and join the conversation by using #OffTheWall on social media.

Vans.com/rowley

About Vans

Vans®, a VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC) brand, is the original action sports footwear, apparel and accessories brand. Vans® authentic collections are sold in 84 countries through a network of subsidiaries, distributors and international offices. Vans® has over 2,000 retail locations globally including owned, concession and partnership doors. The Vans® brand promotes creative self-expression in youth culture across action sports, art, music and street culture and delivers progressive platforms such as the Vans Park SeriesVans Triple Crown of Surfing®Vans Pool PartyVans Custom Culture, and Vans’ cultural hub and international music venue, House of Vans.

Vans, “Off The Wall” Since ’66

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