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How Vans became the ultimate Pop Culture Icon

When you talk about the world’s most beloved skateboarding shoe, Vans sneakers come to mind. The brand started off as a small California based workshop by two brothers with a passion for sneakers. Over the next few decades, Vans slowly gained popularity locally and started taking custom orders, which were made within the store and could be picked up in a couple of days. See a look at the first Vans store here.

Fuelled by a booming local skating scene, the company grew massively. By then the brand had launched the Vans #44 Deck Shoe (otherwise known as the “Vans Authentic”), the Vans Old Skool, the Vans Classic Slip-On, Vans Sk8-Hi and Vans Era. Vans went ahead to be named by Forbes as one of America’s best small companies in the year 2000.

 The Vans brand has always been about quality and affordable shoes. It’s best selling model The Vans Authentic, Vans Sk8-Hi, Vans Old Skool, Vans Era, and the Vans Slip-Ons have now become iconic silhouettes. Learn more about the history of Vans here.

Vans today is not just limited to skateboarding but has become a household name and fashion statement. Whether its skate parks or runways, they’re everywhere and are clearly here to stay.

Despite beginning as a true skateboard company, the massive popularity of these sneakers made them a fashion must-have. Year after year, Vans brings out countless collaborations with artists and brands from around the world. From Vans x Beatles to Vans x Hello Kitty to Vans x Marvel to Vans x Marc Jacobs, this Cali based brand has partnered with hundreds of artists and designers.

They gradually evolved by maintaining their core range as well as bringing about innovation in the form of collabs inspired by street culture, music, and art. This strategic move eventually became the foundation of their empire.

With that being said, Vans’ is highly selective about who gets to put their name and design on their canvas. “Anyone can take a graphic and slam it on a Vans shoe,” said Dave Solomon, VP of Vans footwear and equipment. “But if you’re able to tweak the graphics and bring them closer to the Vans brand, that’s when it gets fun.”

The key to successful partnerships, he said, is to blend aesthetics, have ongoing communication and develop a line that resonates with both brands and their respective consumers. “It’s about the connection between the two brands, it’s about authenticity,” said Solomon. “When they’re two authentic brands that stay true to their history and heritage, then they tend to make great collaborations.”

Here are some of the most iconic Vans collaborations:

Vans x Stussy 

Vans x Beatles

Vans x David Bowie

Vans x Marvel

Vans x FDMTL

Vans x Supreme

Vans x Peanuts 

Vans x Disney

Vans x Star Wars

Vans x Kenzo

Vans x Van Gogh

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