Vans and Los Angeles-based brand Kids of Immigrants are launching on Oct. 2 their first sneaker collaboration, Work a Day in Our Shoes, through Greenhouse.
Cofounders Daniel Buezo and Weleh Dennis put their spin on Vans’ Lowland CC sneaker, a new silhouette for the sneaker brand. The all-white canvas pair bears dual-branding and distressing hand-done by all the Kids of Immigrants members themselves. That’s for all 400 pairs being unpackaged, distressed and repackaged with a toolkit.
“The shoe material didn’t distress straight from the factory like we wanted it to look so we took it in,” Buezo said. “It was five to six days of working 10 hours a day. That process of touching every product and seeing it go forward is huge.”
Dennis said they designed the sneaker to not have excessive branding, but also to allow the wearer to customize the sneaker how they see fit with a paintbrush or stenciling. The collaboration will retail for $100 on Foot Locker’s Greenhouse app, the Foot Locker web site and Compton store and the Kids of Immigrants web site.
The duo sees the collaboration as a full circle moment as well, as Dennis used to work at Vans on a retail level at Santa Rosa Plaza before launching Kids of Immigrants with Buezo, who relocated to Los Angeles with Dennis from New York City.
The collaboration is one of several that Vans has released in the last month. The footwear brand is launching a partnership sneaker with MoMA on Sept. 30.
Dennis first used the name Kids of Immigrants seven years ago as the two bonded over the similarities of their respective cultures. The two are first-generation Americans from Honduras and Liberia, and were inspired to move to Los Angeles while figuring out their friendship and partnership.
They launched the label in 2016, working with artists such as Big Sean and Kehlani, and it’s since been worn by Lil Wayne, Bad Bunny and Odell Beckham Jr., among others, and on the shows “Insecure” and “On My Block.” The brand is available direct-to-consumer and at specialty stores like Fred Segal.
“We started the brand before the Trump era, but this brand represents something in real time, but also the future,” they said.
They also focus on philanthropy and inspiring youth to be creative. They partnered with Make the Road, an organization for immigrant advocacy, on Juneteenth hosted a voting initiative with Blackout the Ballot at Watts Labor Community Action Committee in Watts, Calif. in Los Angeles, and the campaign shoot for the Vans collaboration, featuring family members of each Kids of Immigrants member, benefited A New Way of Life, a women’s home helping women exit the criminal justice system.
“I feel like more than anything, it’s our time and it’s on us to be the leaders that we’re waiting for,” Buezo said. “We’re not looking for anyone to save us and if there’s anything missing, we need more of, that might be a calling for each and every one of us to step up.”