If you told Lizzie Armanto as a teen that she, or even just the sport of skateboarding itself, would be bound for the Olympics in 2021, she wouldn’t believe you.
“It's kind of crazy because when I started skating, the Olympics was nowhere near the map for me,” she tells NYLON. “I think it's really special that so many people are going to see skateboarding for the first time and maybe be inspired to try it themselves. I'm so excited for them because skateboarding has given me so much.”
Armanto started skating at the age of 14 in her hometown of Santa Monica, California. Almost every day after school, she and her younger brother would go to Cove Skatepark, a mile away from where they grew up.
“I really loved the scene and how everyone was trying to learn a new trick and pushing themselves,” she recalls. “The skate community itself was really cool because it was an eclectic cast of people. You could be a little kid skating with a 50-year-old, and you could be on the same level.”
From there, she started getting boards from local companies and competing in contests. The rest, as they say, is history. Now, at the age of 28, Armanto is gearing up to go to Tokyo this summer to competitively skate for Finland, where she holds dual citizenship with the U.S. She’s also teamed up with Vans to custom design her sneakers for the Olympics, inspired by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, whose wooden and sculptural work, Armanto says, reminds her of skateboarding and skateparks.
Armanto’s partnership with Vans has a charitable aspect to it, too. From now through August 30, Vans will donate $10 for every pair of its Custom Skate Classics purchased to the Tides Foundation, which will support Skateistan, a non-profit organization that introduces skating and empowers communities around the world, including Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa.
“Skateboarding is so accessible, compared to a lot of other sports,” says Armanto. “It's pretty minimal, you just need a skateboard and some flat ground.”
If you’re thinking about trying out the sport for the first time, or are curious about what else you need beyond just a board, Armanto shared some of her go-to fashion, beauty, and wellness essentials to help get you started.
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Skate Fashion Essential #1: Sneakers
“When I'm picking out a pair of shoes, the first part is that they should look good, and then the more essential part is them fitting on your foot so that when you take a step or move, the shoe is moving with you. That all translates to when you're on your skateboard and you have good board-feel.
I really like high-tops, that’s my go-to. I wear a lot of the Vans Sk8 Hi sneakers. I've also been enjoying this one shoe, called the Sentry, which kind of looks like a platform boot and a high-top. It feels like a combat boot, but not too over the top.”
Skate Fashion Essential #2: Jeans
“I'm so particular about jeans. I definitely am one of those people that will look at all these little details of a pair of pants that is probably overkill, but I honestly love it. And I like jeans that are really thick and you can run around in them. And they're not going to give up on you, especially for skateboarding, just because if you're rolling around and then you fall, you want your pants to not rip, that's so embarrassing if that happens. I usually wear Vans pants and I've been really liking the men's jeans.”
Skate Fashion Essential #3: T-Shirts
“I like T-shirts that you can move around in and not feel restricted. I think that's super important. A lot of the time, I'll get a T-shirt and I'm like, ‘Oh, this graphic is so awesome.’ But if I just wore the tee by itself, it doesn't really hang that well. Or I'll just cut it and it will feel more fun or even more comfortable. I like thrifting T-shirts and am very much into making something your own. Sometimes I'll get tees and I'll cut them up and make them the length I want.
It's all personal preference. Some people feel like if [a shirt is oversized], if they roll around, they're going to be more protected. But part of skateboarding is learning how to fall. If you know how to fall, you can kind of avoid certain mishaps, but in the end there will be that fall that is going to get you no matter what. I think it's fun to just wear something that you feel good in. That's how you're going to skate best.”
Skate Fashion Essential #4: Gear
“If you're just starting out skating, go to a local skate shop and ask someone to help you put a board together. You can pick out all the pieces to get it perfect for your build. Also, it's a really fun thing to do. You choose all the colors and the graphics and, in the end, that's going to make you more excited to go skate.
If you're going to try to learn how to skate transition, you should definitely get some pads. I always skate in 187 Killer Pads. They're really good. The stuff that they have at most stores is not going to do much for you, but these are like marshmallows on your knees and elbows. Knee pads, elbow pads, and a helmet are essential if you're going to start learning how to skate transition. And if you just want something to feel extra protected, even for just learning how to skate, those are a great place to start, too.”
Bonus Tip: Skate Beauty And Wellness Essentials
“I usually have protein powder shakes, and I use Vega protein powder and Vitamineral Green. I'll throw them in a smoothie. I use this one oil to moisturize my face from Supernal, called Cosmic Glow. I also use Mrs. Meyer’s lotion. I love the hand lotion. There’s an oat blossom-scented one and it's the best. Because I’m always out in the sun, I use Neutrogena and Coola sunscreen, especially now that it's summer, you'll get fried if you don't put on sunscreen.”