Vans has been rocking long before #DamnDaniel became a viral spectacle. After setting up shop in two permanent locations in Brooklyn and London, the shoe and lifestyle brand plans to expand their reach even further with a global takeover in honor of their 50th anniversary on March 16.
From March 16 to 19, Vans will be activating ten worldwide celebrations including a special SXSW set-up that includes performances from veteran soulstress Erykah Badu and Kelela to a Brooklyn bash with New York native Nas. Wu-Tang Clan will hold down the festivities in Mexico City while Dinosaur Jr., Jazz Cartier and Tommy Genesis bring the party to Toronto.
“We really wanted to honor our heritage in enabling creative expression,” says April Vitkus, the senior director of global brand marketing. “The global idea was to expand the accessibility to the House of Vans. It’s such a unique, cultural hub for the brand that it was important to us to celebrate in as many communities as we could.”
Other House of Vans events — each will include D.I.Y. workshops, shoe personalization, art installations, skate and BMX demos among other activities — will touch down in London, Sao Paolo, Seoul and Kuala Lumpur.
“We’re bringing in some collectors to do a design retrospective [that are] all gonna be through a regional lens so in places like Hong Kong and Mexico City, there’s a focus on art, live painting, workshop while somewhere like Austin, which is going to coincide with South By Southwest, we’re going to be host to over 90 musicians throughout the week,” explains Vitkus of the celebrations. “So every location has a unique local flavor but it still feels inherently Vans.”
The mix of both local and global artists comes from Vans’ off-the-wall mission statement of embracing individuality and authenticity. “I think like Vans, I try to have a style that could be seen as timeless,” says performer Nas. “I never tried to make things just so it could withstand the test of time but some of what I’ve done has. I look at Vans that way as well.”
The 50th anniversary won’t be just a week-long celebration but rather set the tone for the brand’s future. “One of the key things about celebrating the 50th anniversary is that it’s not just about March 16th. This is really a pivot point for the rest of 2016 and beyond,” notes Vitkus. “We want to ensure that people are going to experience the House of Vans and interact with us one-on-one. This is really a time that we’re giving back and connecting with, and inspiring the next wave of Vans enthusiasts and creative thinkers.”
Adds Nas, “Any time you celebrate longevity it’s a beautiful thing. You are thanking your supporters and laughing at your doubters at the same time.”