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.
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.
To commemorate this historic moment and Rowley’s overall contribution to skateboarding, Vans has erected a bronze statue of the icon himself at the L.A. Convention Center hubba, where the trick took place. While traditional sports have honored gilded superstars such as Oscar De La Hoya, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wayne Gretzky and others in similar fashion, Vans makes a subversive move to memorialize Geoff Rowley, a true legend of skateboarding. Within sight of the said sports superstar statues, Rowley’s monument sits at the ledge across from Star Plaza and will live there for 30 days as a tribute to skateboarding and Vans’ recognition of the sport’s magnitude in our culture.
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.