Lizzie Armanto is one of the most groundbraking female skaters in the biz. Here she talks about her new signature collection from Vans.
──LIZZIE ARMANTO (ENGLISH)
[ JAPANESE / ENGLISH ]
Photos courtesy of Vans
Special thanks_Vans Japan
VHSMAG (V)： How did you start skating?
Lizzie Armanto (L)： I started skating when I was 14 and it was because my younger brother wanted to try it. My mom pretty much signed us up for our local skate park. It was like a mile down the street. And from there on it was just the place that we'd go after school and in the park there's mostly transition. So naturally I went to that.
V： Who did you look up to when you were growing up?
L： Growing up skating at the Cove there were a lot of people that came by and I remember I used to skate with Pat Ngoho and Bernie O'Dowd... I remember seeing Steve Olsen coming to the park. I didn't know that the level of skating was really high compared to most parks, but I thought it was normal.
V： Were there many female skaters there when you were growing up?
L： At my home park there was this one woman Melissa and she rode for SMA and I used to just see her around. Then I started skating with this girl who lived next door because my brother ended up falling and hurting, chipping his tooth and then he was kind of over it. And then eventually I would skate with Allysha Bergado and she was really, really good. I would say Allysha is probably the person that I looked up to the most because she ripped. She still does.
V： What do you look for in a skater and what makes a skater a good skater from your perspective?
L： I would say a good skateboarder is someone who just skates with ease. There's one part of it that's technicality, there's a lot of people that can skate and do really hard things. But then, there are people who flow around and make it look effortless. I feel that's when someone's really mastered something. There's so many ways to do it, but it's all on how each person does it.
V： You mentioned Chris Miller as your favorite skater. What's the best thing about his skating?
L： Chris Miller's my favorite skater and I like his trick selection and the way he skates. He's older now and he still rips... he's just got it.
V： You're the first female skater to make the loop in 2018. What was that like?
L： So Tony Hawk asked me if I wanted to skate the loop and my initial reaction was... I don't know if I want to skate the loop, because the loop's really gnarly. It was a really stressful question because it's very real, especially when he's asking it to you. I told him if you bring out the loop, I'll look at it and then maybe I'll try it out. And so he ends up getting this VR Company to put up the loop and they're going to do a live event and he invited me. I skated it and I couldn't figure out the technique, but I just kept trying. And then I kept skating it, eventually they had the show and there's a crowd, there're cameras. There's a bunch of people trying to skate this thing and there's some people freaking out so it's really hard to be in the zone to figure this thing out and not get wrecked. It turned out that someone else wanted to do it so I started pulling pads out and took a seat.
V： So you made it after the event?
L： Yeah, right before they started to take it down. I wanted to keep trying. Tony was like, "If Lizzie wants to try it we'll wait." So I was trying it and trying it, still doing the same thing, not figuring it out. And then Shawn Hale told me, "You don't pump." And then I was sticking to the wall and kind of getting around. At that point it was very real and it was probably the scariest point for me because I decided that whatever was going to happen I'm going to continue. I kept trying and got into a rhythm. They started pulling pads out one by one and it got to the last pad. And the first one I did without any pads, I bailed before 12 o'clock, which is the worst thing you could do. But somehow I bailed all the way to the other side. It basically looked like I knee slid at 12 o'clock and I was okay.
V： Were you skating that thing alone?
L： Jaws was there. He was skating the loop with me just so I wasn't skating alone. He was up at the top of the loop, so I'd climb up the ladder and he'd be there, just hyping me up and then I'd go. Then the next one I made it all the way around, but at the end I fell off my board. And there was one where I made it out but fell five feet off of the loop. Everyone ran towards me and was like, "You did it, this is sick!" But I fell right after and I didn't feel it was legit. So I ran back and I was trying to keep the same head space. I did another one where I went forward and pinched. And I did another one where I went backwards and fell back at the end. I'm making it through the loop each time. And then by the fifth or sixth one, I made it out. I'm riding across the parking lot. It was crazy because no one filmed it for real. It was just iPhone footage. Tony threw his phone and everyone was running towards me, like a mob. That was really a good day.
V： That's amazing. How did you get on Vans?
L： I remember going to Bowl-A-Rama in Australia. It was this contest on Bondi Beach. I was wearing a different shoe brand, which I didn't usually wear and my friend Jeff Grosso was asking me, "What are you wearing?" kind of thing. I was like, "Oh, this company's sending me shoes and I can't really afford to keep buying skate shoes." And he was like, "Oh, what? I thought you were getting hooked up by Vans already." Because I used to wear Vans sometimes. He ended up talking to them, and eventually I got a box.
V： You just got your new Vans signature collection.
L： My latest colorway and collection, I got inspo from this one drive through Camp Pendleton and it was in the spring... the hills are all green and there's all the mustard plants and I took inspo from those colors. And I didn't want to do too many crazy colors. It's a black and white shoe pretty much. I wanted to play with textures so I have a clear side stripe and debossed checkers. The more you skate it, the checkers start showing up more because of the dirt. I like the worn-in look of it. As for the graphics on the insole, I went with this anatomical heart. I remember growing up, I was a big fan of that. It reminds me of when you go in the dictionary and look something up, those little pictures in there, they're done in a certain style and they're very classic. I also have a heart kanji on it, because we were supposed to be going to Tokyo this year, but it's postponed for next year.
V： The checkerboard in the side panel reminiscent of pool tiles.
L： I just wanted to do Vans checkerboard because I think it looks sick and super classic. I like skating pools and I definitely could see how it's reminiscent of pool tiles. But pool skating's super fun and I feel it's like an art. You have to go and find pools and if you're skating an actual backyard pool... It wasn't made for skating and it's so cool that you can just go and find those kinds of things. It's really challenging and I feel like one trick sometimes feels like the same as doing 10 at a skatepark.
V： Vans is putting out great contents. What are some of your favorites?
L： My favorite would be the most recent Loveletter to the LGBTQ community.
V： I know you're close with Jeff Grosso. A piece of advice you got from Jeff that you'll never forget?
L： Definitely got a lot of advice from Jeff. I would say for me, he was the person who I could tell him, whatever situation that I was dealing with. I feel like I could tell him and then he'd have some sort of advice, good or bad. Him being a professional skateboarder, he had the knowledge of how certain decisions affect your career and he would definitely be like a nice voice of... I don't know if I'd call him the voice of reason, but he helped me figure out what my decision is. He was just there. He had time for people, he had time for me. Everything that he did, he really did it. He didn't half-do things, which is sick.
V： Do you have any favorite Japanese skater?
L： One of my close friends is Mami Tezuka and she rips.
V： You've visited Japan before and you were supposed to come this year. Anything you enjoy doing in Japan?
L： I always enjoy hanging out there. I really like the food in Japan and I really enjoyed going to the botanical garden. I like the way the cities are structured too. Everything is just so different than everywhere else. And the culture is very interesting. I always think it's so crazy how much tradition there is there and it's a beautiful place.
V： So you just released your signature collection. What's next for you?
L： Right now, I'm kind of keeping it mellow being at home and I've been taking things as they come. I'm looking forward to traveling again. It feels like this past year is kind of surreal in the sense that it's been so different, but it makes me appreciate all the things that I do have. It makes me really appreciate skateboarding because it's such a cool outlet. I can just go skate for an afternoon and feel normal and have all the support from the community... I'm grateful for all that.
Born in 1993, from Santa Monica. She's the first female skater to make the loop and has been featured in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater game. She just released her collection from Vans.