TRANSIT is a new video series by Vans that aims to explore the different forms of public transportation in China, South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia. The series follows members of its Asia skate team as they explore and rip up the pavement in iconic cities across the four countries. At the helm of the videography efforts is Tommy Zhao, a Shanghai-based skater, photographer, and filmmaker who’s been documenting the Chinese skateboarding scene for nearly a decade. Having witnessed firsthand the growth of Asia’s skate scene over the years, Zhao believes that there are better things ahead for the sport, especially with brands like Vans helping to champion local skaters. “I’ve had a really good relationship with Vans since they’ve started up in China, and they’ve been really supportive of not just my skate videos but the whole skateboard scene,” says Zhao. “Having a skate team, going on tours, and doing grassroots events, Vans has given the opportunity to a lot of skaters in China to live the dream life of skating and traveling to some of the best skate spots in the world.”
Having witnessed firsthand the growth of Asia’s skate scene over the years, Zhao believes that there are better things ahead for the sport, especially with brands like Vans helping to champion local skaters. “I’ve had a really good relationship with Vans since they’ve started up in China, and they’ve been really supportive of not just my skate videos but the whole skateboard scene,” says Zhao. “Having a skate team, going on tours, and doing grassroots events, Vans has given the opportunity to a lot of skaters in China to live the dream life of skating and traveling to some of the best skate spots in the world.”
By bringing together skaters from each featured region and giving them the chance to explore one another’s home turfs, TRANSIT captures the strong sense of community that’s intrinsic to the sport, demonstrating skateboarding’s status as a universal language that transcends cultural barriers. “When you get taken around by local skaters versus being there just as a tourist, you kind of become a local for that short amount of time,” Zhao comments on the experience. “It’s also refreshing to be reminded that even though we may all be from such different places, when we all sit down for a meal or to hang out, everyone’s the same. We just want to have a great time and share it with friends and family.”
However, as to be expected, local authorities tend to be less than enthused with skaters visiting their neck of the woods. “Getting kicked out of spots is just part of skating,” Zhao says, shrugging. “It might rain, someone might get hurt, security might show up, or all of these might happen at once. When you travel around with eight to twelve people on these trips, it doesn’t make it any easier. It draws a lot of attention and a lot of the times you just have to figure out how to deal with security guards or the police.”
Skateboarding has long held a bad rep among non-skaters, being defined by its anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment roots. But with its induction into the 2020 Summer Olympics, skateboarding is becoming recognized as a legitimate sport on an international level. Zhao sees both the ups and downs of skateboarding’s newfound validation. On one hand, skateboarding will receive more exposure and support, which will in turn produce more skaters and open up opportunities for emerging talents. However, once skateboarding becomes propped up in the mainstream, it’s doomed for commercialization. “It can produce a lot of greed within the sport, and when a lot of politics get involved, things can get messy,” Tommy comments. “Apparently the Chinese Skateboard Olympic team are some kids they picked from the Shaolin Temple and have never skated in their life. They will be coached and taught how to skate as if it were gymnastics. Their mentality towards skateboarding will probably be a lot different than other kids who pick up skateboarding just for fun. But who knows. Maybe they’ll win gold.”
Check out TRANSIT episodes one and two below.
The debut episode, “Shaolin Shadows,” sees Vans skaters from China, Hong Kong, and Malaysia meet up to explore China’s Hunan province and rip up the streets of Changsha and Zhengzhou’s Shaolin Temple.
In the second episode, “Satellites,” Australian skaters Bibi Bradbury and Ben Currie join Vans riders from Hong Kong, China, and South Korea as they explore and skate the less-visited areas of Seoul.
在第二集影片《Satellites》，澳大利亚滑手Bibi Bradbury和Ben Currie加入香港、中国和韩国滑手的队伍，跟着他们去探访首尔鲜为人知的场地。
The rest of the series will see the Vans skate team hit Southern China, Singapore, and Malaysia. Stay tuned to this space to watch the remaining episodes in full!