Street Beat: Vans
May 27, 2010
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Steve Van Doren, VP of Events and Promotions at VansFew companies personify the Southern California lifestyle more than Vans. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone from SoCal who hasn't owned a pair of waffle-sole kicks. Vans shoes have classic style, yet are able to transcend generations and remain current.
Founded by Paul Van Doren in 1966, the Van Doren Rubber Co. and its shoes came to be known simply as "Vans." From the Slip-On to the Authentic, Vans has put their signature on the skateboard and fashion world for over 40 years.
While the company has grown tremendously, Vans has kept much of the original family in-house. Steve Van Doren, son of founder Paul Van Doren, currently serves as the VP of Events and Promotions. I've said enough, let's let Steve do his thing...enjoy!
- Danny Spyra
BNQT - THE CUSTOM CULTURE CONTEST LET KIDS SHOW THE "SOUL BEHIND THE SOLE." WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS FIRST ANNUAL CONTEST?
Steve - The Vans Custom Culture high school art contest was great. We've always been driven by creativity and by young people's creativity especially. Our most iconic shoe, the checkerboard slip-on, was inspired by kids I saw drawing checkers on the sides of their shoes when I was in school. When we give kids a pair of Vans as their blank canvas, I'm always amazed at the creativity they show us.
The Larkin in Herringbone, part of the OTW
BNQT - THE NEW OTW COLLECTION BLENDS SIMPLE YET DETAILED SHOES WITH PREMIUM MATERIALS. WOULD YOU CLASSIFY THIS COLLECTION AS MORE OF A STREET OR LIFESTYLE LINE?
Steve - The OTW line comes from Vans skate background, but the designers have been given the freedom to create a collection that isn't limited by the restrictions of performance skate shoes. We have shoes for every kind of skater from those who need more support to those who are about boardfeel. The OTW line is for guys who want Vans style that is at the front of the streetwear look.
BNQT - DURING THE RECENT PRO-TEC POOL PARTY, VANS GAVE AWAY RAD PRIZES TO THOSE WATCHING THE ONLINE WEBCAST. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR VANS TO INTERACT WITH ITS FANS?
Steve - Interacting with our consumers in the ways that they want to be connected with is one of the most important things we do at Vans. Not only are we making them feel that they are involved in Vans and our lifestyle, but we also learn from them. When we do contests like the Pro-tec Pool Party or the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, we're talking to fans whether its at the venue or with on-line chats during the webcast. We learn what they like and don't like about our events and we listen to them.
BNQT - THE SURF SERIES SHOES MIX COASTAL DESIGNS WITH ECO-FRIENDLY MATERIALS LIKE BAMBOO AND RECYCLED CAR TIRES. ARE THERE PLANS TO UTILIZE MATERIALS LIKE THESE IN OTHER LINES?
Steve - Yes, we already are using more sustainable materials across other Vans lines. The surf line is probably always going to lead in green products because the health of oceans is so important to surfers, but we now offer organic cotton Classics such as slip-ons and Eras and we have a line of organic cotton t-shirts. We're also trying to be more eco-friendly in the way we conduct business from using recycled cardboard in boxes and store displays, using water soluble inks and glues in manufacturing and taking back used shoes for recycling at our Southern California Vans stores.
BNQT - EXPANDING ON THE SURF SERIES, VANS NOW HAS A COLLABORATION WITH ICONIC WATERMAN JOEL TUDOR. WHERE DID THIS IDEA COME FROM?
Steve - Joel has always been a Vans guy and has ridden for us for a long, long time. Our apparel line has grown a great deal the past few years and originally was focused on skate. We've broadened the line to include apparel and accessories for surfers and we couldn't find a better person to start our surf line with than Joel. He's always been a trendsetter in surf and surf style plus he has always stayed true to his roots.
Joel brought in a duffel bag full of his favorite items from the vintage and surf shops he likes to shop and said "Let's start with this" and our designers took it from there. The Joel Tudor collection blends classic surf style with improvements our designers can make today and has a great selection of boardshorts, shirts and items such as that original duffel.
BNQT - I RECENTLY SAW A FRESH BANNER IN RIGHT-CENTER FIELD AT ANGEL STADIUM FOR VANS OFF THE WALL . HOW DID THIS COME ABOUT AND CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE PARTNERSHIP WITH SURFRIDER?
Steve - We are actually just down the street from Angels Stadium and we've always joked around the office about how an "Off the Wall" sign would be perfect at the ballpark. Before the season, the Angels approached us about the sign and we told them we'd consider it if we could include a promotion with Surfrider Foundation that every time an Angels batter hits a ball of that sign, we'd donate $500 to Surfrider. It was perfect...we got our "Off the Wall" sign and Surfrider got extra visibility of more than 2 million fans this summer right in the heart of the SoCal surf scene in Orange County. Torii Hunter and Hideki Matsui were the first ones to hit it!
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