The Lizzie Aramanto
(Written for the Vegan Skate Blog but not published)
There is an absence of female skaters with their name on a shoe in modern day skateboarding and even fewer that have helped design those shoes. Vans has a better track record than most when it comes to not only having female pro model shoes but also shoes designed by women who skate (the rest of the industry is pretty abysmal when it comes to female representation in the bigger brands so the bare minimum that Vans does puts them ahead of everyone else, so keep in mind it’s a very low bar right now). Vans premiered Cara Beth Burnside’s pro shoe in 1994 and that was officially the first female pro skate shoe, Cons put out a One Star colorway with Alexis Sablone’s name on them, but other than that the skate shoe world has been surprisingly lacking with a female presence. Though I know more than a few people skated Adidas shell toes because of Elissa Steamer’s part in Welcome to Hell. Which is just another way women have influenced skating without the industry supporting them the way they probably should have in the past. Kids will always back what’s cool even if the industry is lagging.
So, in 2022 we got a lot more alternative skateboarding getting the shine and women skaters are in the mix with everyone else pushing this thing we love along into a better future, hopefully. Lizzie Armanto has been a skateboarder I’ve always enjoyed watching despite the fact that I gravitate more towards the crusty street side of things. I always appreciate someone that has a lush bouquet of style, creativity and gnarliness regardless of the terrain they skate and Lizzie has that in spades. She also seems like an extremely genuine person that’s very down to earth in a world of similar “vert/contest” type skateboarders that have egos that are about as big as a blackhole. Her vibe is so legit that even after getting a boost in notoriety for taking one of the worst slams on the mega ramp (it rivals Jake Brown’s X Games slam IMO) she embraced it and talked openly about it in some of the most honest and vulnerable skater interviews to have come out in recent memory. She recovered from the slam and kept going, not letting it get in her head it would seem. The point I’m trying to get across in this overly long intro to a shoe review is that it seems that Lizzie Armanto has the heart and soul of a skater that I can get behind.
When I heard Lizzie was putting out a shoe, I was curious so I peeped the Vans site to see what they were about. A few clicks and I saw that she had made a vegan friendly version of her shoe so that’s when I knew I’d be buying a pair. I asked around to see if anyone had any or if anyone had an opinion on them and the main thing I heard was that they were sort of narrow and had a slimmed down toe box so I bought a half size larger than normal for me. My first impression of the shoe was that they looked like a Vans take on the Nike Blazer and the white material they have that flaps over the heel cuff sort of gives this shoe the appearance of a Blazer. I’ve never skated a pair of Nike’s so I can’t say how close they are in feel. The hi-top cuff of the shoe has a decent amount of padding without being as puffy as a Halfcab. After putting them on I felt I probably could have just bought my usual size but the extra room didn’t really bother me too much.
The vegan version of the shoe is made of canvas and a sort of rubber faux patent leather upper that’s really durable but has a lot of flex to it. By the end of the first session in Lizzie’s shoe they felt pretty broken in. I’ve been skating them for a month and I usually skate 3-5 days a week and they’re holding up well. No holes in the usual places from flipping my board. I hope that this rubber faux leather becomes more common in vegan skate shoe manufacturing because it’s way more durable than the usual canvas that companies have been offering since the price hike for synthetic nubuck leather.
When it came to colorways, they had a few options but for the vegan version they only had a basic black and white or a grey/white/purple and I went for the latter because I love purple. I do wish they would have put Lizzie’s name on the shoe a little more distinctly, it’s hidden under the heel cuff flap. It had me wondering if that was Lizzie’s idea or one of the designers at Vans as all the marketing for this shoe is saying that she had a big hand in designing the features of the shoe.
My only real complaint about these shoes is the sole. While they have a nice flick to them they aren’t as grippy as I would like. I would come off my board a lot if I was jamming into a crusty ledge real hard for example. The texture of the sole is a sort of scaled down waffle texture that Vans is known for but in my opinion doesn’t quite work as well as the OG waffle sole. The next thing is that Vans makes a good insole usually but for some reason the insole in this shoe did not keep my feet from hurting after a long session. I’m not one who hucks. You will not see me doing big gaps or anything like that but after skating a DIY and a few ledge spots one day filming my feet were toast and that’s not usually an issue with other pairs of Vans I’ve had in recent memory.
Another thing I wondered is why this shoe has a vegan version? As far as I know Lizzie isn’t vegan and from what I gathered from Van’s website they aren’t really pushing the vegan thing in the marketing as hard as they could be. My memory might be failing me but I could have sworn that Vans pushed the vegan angle on the old pre-bloodmouth Rowley XLT’s. I could just be misremembering though because back in the olden days of the vegan skate community if a company made a vegan shoe word spread fast even if the company never mentioned that the shoe was vegan safe. Looking into it further I found out about Vans’ “V3 Checkerboard Globe” stamp of approval as part of Vans initiative to reduce waste and carbon emissions by 2030. What the V3 certification is amounts to Vans certifying that products with this V3 Checkerboard Globe stamp are made of at least 30% more sustainable of their four main manufacturing materials (cotton, rubber, leather and polyester). My first thought is that it’s kind of fishy that this sustainability certification comes from within Vans and not from a third party so there’s a lack of accountability there for me that doesn’t quite sit. The other thing is when I tried to look up more information about this V3 thing all I found was a lot of vague corporate jargon without a lot of actual numbers for me to look at and to me that just makes me feel that this commitment to lessening Vans’ impact on the environment might just all be for show.
As a skater that’s been vegan for over half of my life, I’ve gotten used to never feeling 100% confident that a skate shoe aligns with my ethics but it’d be a lot easier to know just how far off the mark a company is when they aren’t being transparent about what they are doing to try to lessen skateboarding’s impact on the eco system. Despite these criticisms and unanswered questions, I do like this shoe and I’d recommend it as one of the longer lasting vegan skate shoes. If you’ve been waiting for a good hi-top the Lizzie Armanto is about as good as it gets in the current era of skate shoes. I’m hoping that this shoe becomes a staple much like the XLT was.
What’s up with that?
Woah, haven’t updated in awhile. I don’t think anyone reads this anyways so I could probably type anything here. I might just write the new great American novel… but probably not because then I’d have to be relatable and be able to type my thoughts out clearly and communicate ideas effectively. Ya’ll know I ain’t about that life. I’m mostly gonna talk about what Broke has been up to which is mostly what I’ve been up to since this is a one man show still.
I moved to Pittsburgh for about four months and that was an experience. In that short time I skated a lot in the streets and at a few parks. Now I’ve got to say I’ve lived in the Bay Area and thought I had seen some gnarly hills but Pittsburgh has them beat by a lot by being completely unskatable for the most part. They’ve got the steepest street in America in that town and the road conditions are so bad it’d be a suicide mission to bomb. God speed to anyone that tries to GX the hills in Pittsburgh. The concrete situation is pretty bad there as the city is pretty much crumbling, in fact a major bridge collapsed while I lived there completely fucking up traffic in the Squirrel Hill area. I have a lot of respect for the street skaters of Pittsburgh that make it happen everyday there.
I helped put in a rail at Oakland DIY and I think they have a really great crew of folks helping out around there. It’s a small but solid crew for sure and they have a few guys that work with concrete and masonry in their day jobs so they build stuff pretty solid at the DIY. A lot of the people I met in Pittsburgh were pretty blue collar and down to earth people and in a lot of ways reminded me of the Milwaukee skate scene so I felt pretty at home.
Got a part time job at Switch & Signal Skatepark too. I’ve been skating there since it opened whenever I’d come to town and knew about it before it was built. Kerry and I met in Chicago in like 2009 at a vegan restaurant and we’ve been pals ever since. We even lived in Oakland at the same time and skated a bunch together. The saddest thing about leaving Pittsburgh to come back to Milwaukee was quitting the skate park. That park is one of the best ones in the country and is really well designed and planned out on top of it being one of the most inclusive and accepting places I’ve ever skated at with the coolest coworkers. I got spoiled being able to go there whenever I wanted to skate. I even started to teach kids how to skate at some of the skate camps and did two one on one lessons with some kids before I left town. I didn’t think I was going to enjoy teaching people how to skate, I mean, I can barely skate myself so I felt like my advice was kinda lacking but somehow the kids I taught had a fun time with our lessons and so did I. Maybe I’ll do that again sometime out here.
I also frequented Radio Skate Shop and made friends with Eric. Radio is probably my favorite skate shop outside of Sky High. Just a really cool vibe where you can drop in and shoot the shit with people and hang out. Radio also carries all the stuff I like to skate and the shop is run by people who care about skating and want to see it grow but not just in a financial way or an industry way, they want skating to grow as a community too. As skating has gotten more blown out it’s becoming more and more rare to see people in skating with that mentality.
During the pandemic and everything it was hard to keep Broke going. Some of the people I was helping with boards found bigger and better things so I was sort of feeling like Broke was losing a lot of momentum. Stuff was slowing way way down. The video project I was working on didn’t go according to plan and that was sort of disheartening. I think I was looking for something to kickstart some new ideas and new projects for me with this little skateboard company and give me something to be excited about. It hasn’t really happened that way though. I still love skateboarding and do it just about everyday but loving skateboarding isn’t enough to justify doing something that’s essentially a solo art project at this point. BUT!!! I still have a ton of fun doing Broke, and to me that’s the most important thing! I don’t really care if Broke is popular or considered cool. I’d rather just do what I want to do and have fun and put stuff out there in skateboarding that I want to see. So until it stops being fun I’m going to keep doing this dumb little skateboard company.
I had big plans this summer. I had a few spots picked out and had planned some tricks and some lines that I was going to push my 39 year old ass to get filmed. As much as I was trying to motivate myself to get this done there was a part of me that was also sort of afraid I’d not be able to accomplish it and the video I had envisioned would become another idea that never became fully realized.
I knew I needed help with this video and also I wanted to film some of my friends that I grew up with to show that the old crew was still out there making shit happen. Especially I wanted to make a part for Stuart because he has always been one of my favorite skaters here locally and I never felt he put out a part that really showcased his ability. After a few sessions and some group texts it seemed like it was on track to go down. We were all going to film and put stuff out in our late 30’s for the world to enjoy. I was hyped.
Well we got maybe three sessions of serious filming done before the whole thing fell apart. Stu got a lot done in those sessions but I still feel it doesn’t do his ability on a skateboard justice. Oh well, I didn’t film much either because after those three sessions I couldn’t ever find anyone to film the tricks I wanted to do for me. I spent most of 2020-21 skating by myself. Thanks a lot COVID.
Anyways, I threw this together in a day. It was still fun to make but it’s not even close to what I envisioned.
Eating shit and grinning.
All hail the new flesh!!!
Razors in the Night
New sticks. 8.25” and 8.5”
Pushed Out of Everywhere
Warning: This is just one person’s opinion based on being involved in a lot of DIY projects not just within skateboarding but also in independent music/art spaces and activism. Everything written is from my personal experience and I haven’t done a ton of up to date research on the topic I’ve chosen to write about outside of my observations, conversations with other skaters and community members. This won’t be from a perspective of someone in the housing/real estate investment industry so I’m not going to speak on what their perspective might be. If you want that go read Forbes or something.
One thing that I think a lot of people outside of skateboarding don’t get is how connected to our environment skateboarding makes us. If you mention an area of the city to any skater, they will have a spot that they have skated or know of in that neighborhood. Not only that, they will know a lot of specific details about that spot like what the concrete conditions are like, the likelihood of getting kicked out/ticketed/harassed, and possibly even know the vibe of the neighborhood and if it’s friendly to skateboarders or not. We’re always looking for a new spot to skate, we tend to notice the abandoned spaces where we can skate free from harassment that normal people don’t notice even if they pass by the spot everyday.
Because of this skateboarders tend to have interactions with their cities homeless/disenfranchised communities that a lot of other people don’t get to have. Historically skateboarders tend to occupy the same spaces with these homeless folks. Whenever anyone mentions a famous plaza like Love Park or EMB there’s always stories of interactions with people on the street and the cast of characters that also call these spaces a home. Sometimes these stories aren’t the most sensitive to these folks on the streets’ situations. Sometimes skaters aren’t super tuned into what someone on the street might be going through and sometimes these interactions become confrontational and sometimes they can become violent and shitty. Granted we’re all just people, and skateboarders are a diverse group, we aren’t always perfect about being compassionate or understanding to others especially when it’s fucking up the session. We’re just trying to skate, right? “Why won’t these bums just chill?” is something I’ve heard a few times over the years.
I think we could all maybe do with a little more compassion towards these folks honestly. In our pursuit of finding and skating the next spot we sometimes forget that a lot of these spots are people’s homes. People who don’t have a roof still have to occupy a space and still have to live their lives. And as much as I love DIY building I think that it displaces a lot of these disenfranchised folks and more than that it’s almost an insidious way that gentrification begins in an area.
Think about it, we find a spot that would be good for a DIY and we just start building hoping that the property owner doesn’t care or won’t find out. Which is why we tend to look for the most abandoned spaces possible. The more remote and overgrown the better so that we don’t draw attention to our build by the cops or the upright citizens brigade. But these spots are oftentimes also attractive to the homeless for the same reasons and many times already have a homeless community in place before skaters even discover it. But I don’t think we as skaters really ask these folks who are just trying to get by and live if they’re cool with us building a skatepark in the middle of their home. A lot of these folks seem to just go with the flow because they don’t want to lose what little they have by resisting people with more economic standing than them (ie- skaters) and I can’t blame them.
I’ve seen some DIY projects get encouraged as a way to purposefully remove some of the blight in an area with little investment from the city government and once the area becomes safer because of the increased traffic of skaters scaring off homeless folks and drug dealers only to get bulldozed to make room for condos. Basically the skate community did the job of the gentrifiers and got nothing to show for it. This isn’t benefiting us as skaters or the homeless that are already having the deck stacked against them.
I’m trying to look for ways the skate community can work with homeless folks to prevent this from happening but I don’t know if radical autonomous zones for skating and living is a conversation that the skate community is ready for. But I think it all starts with communicating with these groups that already occupy these spaces. At least putting it out there that these people can be heard by us is a good start. I’d like for skateboarding to look more like a place where the voices of disenfranchised people has a place and can be heard and respected. I want skating to be more than a community only out for itself and it’s interests and I think DIY culture is a good doorway to this mindset.
Country Club Lavish
Yesterday we had some decent weather and so some of the crew decided to visit this tennis court spot. This guy Mike from NY brought a parking block and joined the session. It’s crazy what a day of 55 degree weather will do to make you seize the day.