Few skateboarders have managed to garner the same admiration and affection from fans as Geoff Rowley. Renowned for having a heart as big as the gaps and rails he conquered, the much-loved Brit has been honoured at a special 20th anniversary event at Vans HQ, California.
A glorious celebration of Geoff’s career in skateboarding, and his 20-year partnership with Vans, the occasion was highlighted with the premiere of Vans’ Take It Back documentary, a retrospective display featuring Rowley pro models throughout the years, and the unveiling a commemorative statue of Geoff himself.
Fellow skate legend Tony Alva was on hand to introduce Geoff, who spoke extensively about his humble beginnings and his friendship with the OG Z-Boy. Shortly after, Vans stalwart Steve van Doren presented Geoff with a unique celebratory ring, signifying the strength of the 20-year partnership.
‘I’ve been asked the question recently ‘why I ride for Vans’, and I can answer that in a number of different ways, but the most natural and comfortable thing to say is, I actually ride for Steve Van Doren,’ Geoff told Sneaker Freaker in an exclusive interview (stay tuned for the full Q&A).
‘I wanted to ride for the Vans brand because of what his family built. That’s what I wanted, you know?’
And we’re glad he did. The Rowley line of pro models is synonymous with the early-2000s skate obsession. A favourite among fellow pros and local park rats alike, the Rowley line was hardwearing, classically styled, and changed the way the industry looked at skate shoe design. Senior product designer at Vans, Natt Iott, explains:
‘[Geoff] changed a lot of perceptions in what a skate shoe should be pretty quickly. So myself, being from a previous generation – vulcanized shoes and grip was the main thing. Then, as street skateboarding and trends changed, it wasn’t the most important thing. I don’t know how else to put it. It shifted toward people turning to feel and control.’
A bona fide skateboarding trailblazer, Geoff is still going huge – just check out fresh footage from Take It Back for proof. We’re looking forward to seeing him add to his legacy in the years to come, all with Vans laced on his feet, of course.
You can check out exclusive interviews with Geoff and Natt Iott in the upcoming Issue #42 of Sneaker Freaker magazine.