Vans Celebrates 50 Years of “Off The Wall” Heritage

In celebration of Vans’ 50th Anniversary, the iconic brand has released The Story of Vans campaign

Today marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most iconic brands in the action sports community. Vans marched onto the footwear scene on March 16, 1966, and things haven't been the same since. From the accomplishment of inventing the world's first skate shoe, to ushering in a new era of footwear that really hasn't seen an end, Vans seems to have done it all. With their venture into creating snow gear in the early '90s, Vans proved that their brand was versatile enough to create legendary footwear in any sport. Facing financial adversity, advancing fashion trends for generations and continuing to grow a brand that focuses on heritage and future endeavors at the same time are all accomplishments that Vans seems to have conquered with ease, and most importantly, style.

Vans 50th

Photos from the Vans archives show the humble beginnings of the footwear brand.

Not only is Vans built on the foundation of creating iconic footwear for skate, snow, and more, the brand is also supported by the talented athletes that make action sports a reality, and continue to push the boundaries of what our bodies can do (all while wearing a pair of Vans). Says Vans rider Hana Beaman, “To me, 50 years of Vans means staying true to who you are and what you do and love! That’s being authentic and that is really inspiring!”

Vans has commemorated its golden anniversary with the global launch of The Story of Vans. Vans says of the series: "Always original, Vans introduces a campaign that is innately imaginative and one-of-a-kind in honor of its 50th anniversary. The Story of Vans blends diverse animation methods to create one distinctive visual treatment in a groundbreaking campaign that illustrates the brand's origins in action sports, art, music and fashion. In a never before seen combination of techniques, The Story of Vans uses forced perspective drawings, traditional cell animation, paper cut outs and timeless Vans footwear, which are all stop motion animated in an intricately choreographed celebration of the brand. Directed by Reza Resoli from Pet Gorilla, The Story of Vans is brought to life through whimsical black and white illustrations by French artists Mrzyk & Moriceau and a soundtrack produced by music house Beta Petrol, who brought together different musical collaborators ranging from Tortoise's John Herndon to Wayne Kramer from the MC5. The campaign is made up of a series of five short stories, one which tells the journey of the Vans brand, and four additional spots that emphasize Vans' core forms of creative expression and define the mantra of living "Off The Wall."

The ultimate culmination of The Story of Vans campaign and Vans' 50-year legacy will come to life at ten House of Vans locations across the globe starting tonight. From New York to London to Hong Kong, guests of the House of Vans will immerse themselves into The Story of Vans. The engaging environment of each House of Vans event will include D.I.Y workshops, shoe personalization, a retrospective look at Vans' history and curated musical performances featuring Nas, Dinosaur Jr., Wu-Tang Clan, The Kills, Erykah Badu, Jamie xx, Dizzee Rascal, Yeasayer, Shlohmo and more. Vans skateboarding legends and professional athletes will also be in attendance for skate demos and signings."

Each video is narrated by an iconic Vans enthusiast, with the familiar faces of Jeff Grosso, Tony Alva, Ray Barbee and the like making an appearance in the newly released series.

We talked to Kevin Casillo Vans' Snow and Surf Footwear Marketing Manager, about Vans' 50th anniversary, and what it means for the brand.

TW SNOW: First of all, congratulations on 50 years! That's an incredible anniversary for any brand, especially one as authentic as yours, that's remained true to its original vision. How do you feel about the anniversary?

Kevin: It's an amazing feeling to be part of something this special. 50 years is a huge milestone for any brand, one that many do not get to see. I am stoked; grateful and blessed to work for such an authentic brand that has such deep roots in Action Sports and who keeps to the values they believe in. The Story of Vans video is a great testament to Vans' 50 years in music, art, street culture and action sports.

I know Vans is focused not only on the future, but has a special appreciation for the past as well. As a brand you've managed not only to stay on top of current and upcoming trends, but also to keep your heritage and history at your core. How do you plan to celebrate both the past and future during your 50th anniversary?

Where we came from is equally as important as where we are heading. We have a vast history hailing from the days of Duke Kahanamoku, Dogtown and Z-Boys to the present with the likes of Jake Kuzyk, Rowan Zorilla or Nathan Florence. The 50-year anniversary is a pivot point for Vans to be able to nod to our heritage but drive progression.

“50 years of Vans is an incredible milestone. I am very honoured to be considered a part of it at this point. They really care about everyone involved, and take every opportunity to show their gratitude towards those who have supported them and helped to bring it this far. If years ago someone would have told me I would snowboard for Vans in its 50th year I wouldn’t have believed it! ” Jake Kuzyk

 Your history in snow dates back to the early 90s. Do you have anything new in the works for your Snow division? What does the future of Vans in snow look like?

Style and creativity is what really drives Vans Snow, there are no roadmaps or guidelines when it comes to snowboarding, our goal is to inspire and enable creative expression.

I know everyone will be asking you this, but where do you see Vans going in the next 50 years? Especially with climate change affecting the landscape of snow sports as we know them, how do you see Vans in snow adapting to what's ahead?

Vans has been a part of the snow industry for over 20 years, through the ups and downs. The climate change situation is a scary one, more in sense for the future of our kids. I feel we all have to make some changes or adapt to help slow down this horrible reality. Everyone is going to have to come together and lead by example to make sure we are doing the correct things for our environment so we can provide the youth of tomorrow an open door to experience this passion that we all love.

Vans 50th

Vans’ famous waffle sole.

Tell me about the expansion of House of Vans. Not only do you have permanent installations across the globe, it sounds like for 2016 you'll have even more pop-up locations to celebrate the brand. Can you give me any insight to where House of Vans is headed in 2016?

The House of Vans is our culture hub that enables creative expression. Tapping into our brand pillars such as art, music, action sports and street culture. The House of Vans inspires and connects everyone who enters, bringing our brand to life. For the 50th anniversary we will be celebrating by hosting House of Vans activations around the world such as Brooklyn, London, Toronto, Mexico City, Seoul, Shanghai and more, all simultaneously on March 16. The Anniversary House of Vans events will also bring The Story of Vans brand campaign to life in an interactive, 3-D experience

What's new for House of Vans, and how does that tie in with your 50th anniversary?

Everyone can expect exciting new "things" happening at the House of Vans for 2016. One of the biggest things folks are going to see is the expansion of House of Vans globally – throughout 2016 and beyond. Vans will be hosting a variety of activations including skateboarding demos, music events, interactive design workshops and art installations, all to continue to encourage the creative communities that have supported Vans for the past 50 years.

Are there any 50th anniversary collections or releases you'd like to highlight?

We have created both footwear and apparel collections to celebrate our 50th. In our classic footwear and apparel lines, you will find a gold theme also known as the anniversary "Gold Pack", where in our Pro Skate category you will find the Vans Pro Classics Anniversary Collection, which consists of, reissues of historical styles and color-ways that feature new and innovative technology that responds to the modern skateboarder's needs.

I'm really digging the History of Vans video you guys have released for your 50th anniversary. What went into coming up with the concept? What aspects of the brand did you want to highlight?

We just wanted to tell out story, let the new comers understand where we came from and reward our loyalists who have been on the journey with us. We are beyond grateful to celebrate 50 years of "Off The Wall" and want to thank our supporters for helping us get here, all of this would not have been possible without them.

Congrats, Vans! We can’t wait to see what the next 50 years bring.