Vans have given pioneering freestyle skater Ray Barbee the keys to their ‘Vans Vault’ for a new holiday partnership series with legendary German camera company, Leica. The ‘Capturing The Journey’ collection places emphasis on the pilgrimage to progression both in life and in skating, reflecting the persistence and present-mindedness needed to enjoy the journey and better one’s craft. Considering that skate photography is a founding pillar of Skate culture, much in the same way that breakdancing and graffiti are cornerstones of hip-hop culture, a Vans x Leica collab is a seamlessly logical partnership long overdue in the making.
There is perhaps no better spokesperson for the free-spirited ethos of this collection than Ray Barbee. Growing up in San Jose during the genesis of skate culture in the late ‘70s, Ray witnessed first-hand the exploits of underground skate photographers tasked with capturing the artform of freestyle skating using an artform of their own. As the long-time owner of a Leica M, Ray began to capture his own journey through professional prosperity as he sought to bring freestyle and flat-ground tricks to competitions, turning pro only six years after first picking up a skateboard and a camera.
As podiums and pro-tours became his profession, the darkroom became Ray Barbee’s refuge where he developed silver gelatin prints documenting his own rise through the ranks. His out-of-the-box style of skating and unorthodox desire to document his own perspective of skate culture has cemented Ray as a true trailblazer of 90s and 2000s skateboarding. The ‘Capturing The Journey’ collection is a perfect ode to the multi-dimensional nature of Ray’s artistry, fusing distinctly 90s colorways and classic Vans silhouettes with embroidered quotes like ‘The joy is in capturing the journey’ to encapsulate both his love for photography and the 2000s skate culture he helped create.
The collection will feature a reinvention of numerous classic Vans such as the OG Authentic LX, OG Slip-On LX, OG Old School LX and OG SK8-Hi LX. Each distinct design is emblazoned with a quote reflecting the commonalities between skating, photography and Ray’s own career. “I herby decide: the risk shall be taken” Ray explains, a homage to the quote uttered before the production of the first-ever Leica in 1924 and a fitting tribute to the daredevil nature of skating. The collection goes beyond skate shows and incorporates a personalised Ray Barbee twill ‘Station Jacket’ as well as a number of Tee’s adorned with original and unseen photography taken by the collections chief curator.
Finally, a Leica collaboration wouldn’t be complete without the unveiling of a classic Vans checkerboard pattern camera. The Leica D-Lux 7 Vans X Ray Barbee is a perfect christmas pick-up for any skate or photography fan as the top plate boasts both a ‘Vans Vault’ logo and a crisp Ray Barbee signature. The ‘Capturing The Journey’ collection is officially on sale now at Vans Vault retailers.