As the Seine sparkles under the Parisian summer sky, a ripple of anticipation sweeps the fashion world. Vans, a beloved stalwart of the surf, skate, and streetwear scene, is gearing up to launch its new premium label, OTW by Vans, during the Paris Men’s Fashion Week. Shedding the Vault by Vans moniker, this transformation is a bold declaration, underpinned by a determination to redefine the pinnacle of product expression and brand experience.
Vans, now a member of the VF Corp. family, is embarking on this venture under the careful guidance of Ian Ginoza, the newly appointed visionary helming this avant-garde initiative. Ginoza, armed with his rich history of orchestrating collaborations at adidas, Nike, and Converse, is poised to redefine Vans’ image. He teases, “ We’re launching a new platform where we’re going to house our most pinnacle product expressions and brand experiences. This is also where the brand will intersect with innovators in the culture of skate, style, design, and entertainment. ”
Vault, Vans’ previous premium label, was a celebration of classic art, heritage, and craftsmanship since its inception in 2003. It offered an array of collaborations with luxury brands, streetwear designers, and artists, ranging from the likes of GUCCI to Frida Kahlo. But now, OTW by Vans is shifting gears to embrace the daring, exploratory ethos inherent in skateboarding culture. As Ginoza states, the new label seeks to “really push the boundaries of product expression and brand experiences.”
The label’s first collaboration, set to drop in early 2024, will be with Los Angeles multimedia artist and former pro-skater Sterling Ruby. His profound connection with Vans and skateboard culture fuels this partnership. Ruby reminisces, “ I bought my first pair of Vans at age 11, about 40 years ago now. Vans represented how I envisioned West Coast freedom, something I later chased. ”
OTW by Vans is not just about reimagining footwear; it’s an entirely new brand expression, marking the end of Vault by Vans by 2023. The label will have its e-commerce platform and a curated selection of fashion wholesale partners globally. Ginoza envisions two distinct lines under the new label: OTW, a platform for collaborators, and Premium Standard, an elevated collection of classics. The prices, while higher than the main line, won’t be chasing the luxury sector.
Ginoza’s recruitment of Dylan Petrenka, formerly of Nike, and Lanie Alabanza-Barcena, founder of HlzBlz, underscores his commitment to assembling an elite team for this new venture. He declares, “ I’m fans, they’re experts in what they do and they come with a pedigree and an acumen that’s much needed for what we’re trying to achieve. ”
The launch of OTW by Vans at Paris Men’s Fashion Week serves a strategic purpose. According to Ginoza, Paris, with its rich skateboarding history and influence on style and fashion, offers the perfect backdrop for this introduction. Vans has sought the help of Playlab, the creative firm behind numerous celebrity collaborations, to create a skateable installation at Pont Alexandre III.
Vans is no stranger to navigating peaks and valleys in the market, but Ginoza remains confident. He expresses, “ In many ways, OTW is a reorientation back to who we truly are, Off the Wall, and I think that will be our uniqueness and point of difference amongst the competitive landscape. ”
As the City of Lights embraces OTW, the first glimpses of the upcoming collection emerge. The campaign images, shot on location in Paris, feature a tantalizing peek at a revamped Old Skool 36 sneaker, reimagined through the OTW lens.
But it’s not just about the product. Ginoza is mindful of the brand’s connection with its roots. He speaks fondly of Paris’s vibrant skateboarding scene, “ There’s a deep and rich skateboard history in Paris and a massive community. It’s such an iconic historical city and seeing how skateboarders interact with that environment, it’s quite beautiful. ”
Moreover, an important part of the OTW launch includes an exclusive, star-studded party, alongside a skating installation open for public sessions on the banks of the Seine. Friends of the brand will be given shoes hand-customized by Sterling Ruby’s S.I.R. Studios, ensuring a sprinkle of the artist’s magic throughout the OTW debut.
Despite the challenges facing its parent company, VF Corp., and a decline in revenues, the team behind OTW by Vans appears optimistic and focused. The pressure for a successful turnaround is palpable, but it is clear that they are not shying away from the challenge. Instead, they have chosen to seize the moment, and in doing so, are reinvigorating the spirit of Vans.
In the end, OTW by Vans isn’t merely a new collection. It’s a statement, a philosophy, and a love letter to skate culture. As Ginoza poignantly states, “ Vans like a lot of brands has gone through peaks and valleys but the one thing that Vans has that our competitors don’t is we were born from skateboarding. ” This brand renaissance aims to reassert Vans’ position at the epicenter of the skateboarding universe, where its legacy was first forged.
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