Vans' Legends Division: Tony Alva, Steve Caballero, Steve Van Doren, and Christian Hosoi outside the Duomo di Milano, Italy, 2018. Photo Alex Mayol.
The name Tony Alva is the rhythm of skateboarding. Cutting his way into history with a single slash, Alva’s an original that translates attitude into motion and personality into legacy. His story in skateboarding is the true beginning of danger, art, and opposition, turning Dogtown into skateboarding’s intrepid capital. Along with the Zephyr Skateboarding team, Alva and the Z-Boys showed that skateboarding was more than a fad, toy, or pastime, but rather, dire, necessary expression, in a post-modern wasteland.
In the 1970s, he turned teenage unrest into unstoppable ambition, collaborating with Vans to create the brand’s first true Off The Wall shoe for skateboarding, as well as creating his own namesake brand—both historical feats at the time. With one foot in the emerging California hardcore punk scene and the other pushing skateboarding’s boundaries, Alva’s become the skateboarding archetype and subject of editorial, documentaries, and fictionalized movies, looking to tap his essence. Forever linked to skating’s origins and immortalized as a revolutionary, no one could have touched, changed, and shaped skateboarding in the way Tony Alva continues to do, just by being the definition of an individual.