Vans: The Resurgence of a Culture

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Vans is a shoe and apparel manufacturer who is known for providing a generation of skaters with the perfect shoes. At one point in the 1980s, if you were a skater, you had to have a pair of Vans. The shoe manufacturer could be credited with having been the focal point of the skater culture and at one point in time, was a perfect way for skaters to express their free spirits.

This all changed when Vans faced competition from newer brands. In order to compete with other brands, they tried a number of new ideas and overextended themselves. This resulted in the eventual downfall of the brand and a general loss in public interest. The brand lost its identity and couldn’t find a steady idea to build on.

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In 2004, the first step to Vans‘ revival as a brand came when they were brought under the VF Corporation. This led to a revamp of the old styles that gave Vans its identity as a brand and a pillar to build on. In the last few years, the brand has grown exponentially and is now a powerhouse worth more than 2 billion dollars.

What did Vans do right and how did they create a new culture? The answer is: Stylish simplicity, Quality and price range, Large Audience and last but not least, celebrity exposure.

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Stylish Simplicity

Old Skool Vans LB
Old Skool Vans

The first aspect that Vans focused on is the reinvention of their retro designs to fit this generation and blend in with the change in trends. They brought back the simple designs and made them the base while messing around with different colour combinations and textures on their shoes. The checkerboard slip-ons, the old skool sneaker and the SK8 Hi sneaker are some examples of the old shoe designs that they have reinvented and are now selling.

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Quality and Price range

Vans shoes are comfortable to wear as well as pleasing to the eye, so if you go out and have to walk a longer distance, you definitely don’t have to worry about blisters or shoe-bites. As long as you maintain the shoes well, they should last a long time. When it comes to the price range, they are quite cheap seeing as they are versatile and don’t have any limit as such. You could probably buy a pair for as cheap as Rs 2000.

Large Audience

Vans has managed to do what many shoe brands have tried and failed to do and that is; cater to an extremely audience. Many wonder how this is possible, and the reason is straightforward, the shoes have a simple yet easily recognizable design that makes it possible to pair them with anything. The versatility and overall appeal of the shoe have made it something that everyone can wear. For example, Frank Ocean wore a pair of Vans to the White House in 2016 and most people have a pair of Vans to wear on a regular basis for casual outings.

Frank Ocean wearing vans LB
Frank Ocean wearing Checkerboard Vans at the White House

Celebrity Exposure

Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Kanye West, Kendell Jenner, and Justin Bieber are just some of the celebrities that have been spotted wearing a pair of Vans. This shows how the brand has tapped into a new market and gotten celebrities to wear the sneakers without really trying to appeal to them. The main point is that high profile celebrities are wearing and endorsing the product in a very organic manner.

I’ll leave you with this, a survey in 2018 showed that Vans as a shoe manufacturer stood out for its popularity with teens and are the only brand to compete with and some would say, overshadow Nike. The tide of the streetwear and sneaker culture has benefited Vans greatly and it doesn’t look like that will be slowing down anytime soon.

Further Reading:

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Pranay Mukherjee
Pranay Mukherjee is a Mass Communication student who has a keen interest in writing articles on a variety of unique topics.

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