NEW YORK — Paul Van Doren started his Vans sneaker company in 1966 out of a corner shop in Anaheim, California. The store offered three canvas styles of vulcanized-rubber-soled shoes, at prices ranging from $2.49 to $4.99, but when a dozen customers tried to buy them on opening day, they found that only display models had been made. Van Doren and his partners had to close the shop for a few hours to have the shoes made at their nearby factory. Later that afternoon, when the customers returned to pick up their orders, Van Doren realized he had forgotten to have cash available for change.
It didn’t take long for the sneakers to become cult favorites among skateboarders, BMX riders and beach kids in Southern California. But after Sean Penn’s iconic depiction of Jeff Spicoli in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” the shoes became a more widespread trend. For “alternateens,” Vans were a cultural phenomenon on par with MTV — a brand keyed into skating, music and the cult of cool. And, again like MTV, the company has kept a loyal following among the adults who grew up with it, and has managed to stay current at the same time. Despite, or maybe because of, its lackadaisical beginnings, the company has grown into the dominant brand for the alternative-sports crowd. But the shoes are also sported by the likes of Gwen Stefani, Avril Lavigne and Pink. Meanwhile, discontinued styles can command as much as $300 on eBay or in vintage stores such as L.A.’s Resurrection. Seeking to capitalize on this, the firm will introduce the Vans Vault in June, a shoe line that features unique twists on the popular classic styles, luxury materials and collaborations with fashion designers.
“English girls who go to New York make a special trip to Magic Shoes on Bleecker Street to buy Vans,” says Luella Bartley, who created Vans high-tops for her spring collection. “Their essence is based on kids knocking about. They’re like a best mate.”
Steve Mills, head designer of the Vault collection, says, “Ten years ago, fashion was a taboo word, but now that world has intersected ours.” The new collection riffs on the firm’s classics. Mills and his team went to town with unpredictable but infectious colors that range from citrus green to bright fuchsia as well as brown and tan. Women’s, men’s and unisex styles are being carried at such stores as Classic Kicks in New York and Conveyor at Fred Segal and American Rag in L.A.; retail prices range from $65 to $110. Mills projects that 32,000 to 38,000 units will sell globally for fall, and is projecting 200 to 228 retail accounts for the season.A 3,500-square-foot Vans flagship is slated to open on London’s Carnaby Street for fall 2003. It will feature women’s and men’s footwear, clothes and accessories.Meanwhile, at Manhattan’s 99X, a specialty athletic footwear shop, a waiting list has been growing for the Vault line since customers had a glimpse of them at the Luella Bartley show in September. Says Amy Stevons, manager and buyer, “They stand out from everything else, and in New York people want what is different. More than a few people end up bummed out when limited styles sell out.”
Mazik Saevitz, who owns Conveyor at Fred Segal, says, “I had to hold back when I was ordering, but in the end I couldn’t resist. I wish all of the shoe companies could look like this. They are the freshest styles, and there is a real buzz surrounding them.”
While shoe designer Edmundo Castillo creates ultrafeminine women’s shoes for his own collection, he’s also a self-proclaimed Vans fanatic who scours boutiques in London, Milan and New York for unusual styles. “I nearly crashed my car the other day when I saw a guy wearing a style I’d never seen,” says Castillo, who owns more than 30 pairs. “Their whole attitude makes you relaxed and easy. Even when you’re stressed out, you’re still just chillin’ in Vans.”
“It’s not unusual to find these ‘sneakerologists’ whose obsessions help to set trends,” says Mills.
In fact, Rebecca Taylor — who, like Luella Bartley, is collaborating with the company — had her interest sparked by her husband’s collection of Vans. Taylor’s designs include suedes perforated with floral motifs and multicolored pointelle dot slip-ons. “The beauty of these shoes is that they bring out your inner tomboy,” Taylor says.
Taylor and Bartley will continue to contribute designs to Vans Vault. Taylor finds that working with the firm makes her feel creative and relaxed. Says the New York–based designer, “There is really nothing like having them call you up and say, ‘Dude, I’m really stoked about the sneakers.’ ”
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)