This past Tuesday night Vans and Stüssy celebrated the launch of their collaboration, a joint effort of two companies with long histories and more important, companies not afraid to try something new. DJ Harvey provided the soundtrack for the night and Belvedere Vodka kept the crowd sippin’. The venue by day is a showroom but for this night provided an atmosphere that felt like an old-timey speakeasy called the “Suffragettes Lounge”. Hors d’oeuvres where passed around by “cigarette girls” and the photo booth provided the opportunity to goof around in faux mustaches, derby hats and feather boas. The vibe was fun but felt a little more “grown ‘n sexy”, I do think we’re all growing up.
Lady Lexx and I had the pleasure of attending the event (thank you!!!). We were able to catch up with the designers of Vans Girls, Rian Pozzebon and Erica Young, and get into their minds about the Stussy collaboration. I was so curious as to why a sneaker company would all of a sudden offer a saddle shoe/brogue silhouette, which was first introduced with the Hellz collaboration last year. I had my ideas but had an opportunity to get the facts and I have to say I am completely satisfied with the answers!
Being able to adapt to change is important. About two years ago Pozzebon and Young noticed a shift in the market, they knew they had to step outside the box and try something different. It couldn’t be too outside the box, don’t expect hi-heels from Vans anytime soon or ever, it had to be something in between and something timeless. The answer was the “Sophie”, a black and white saddle shoe, it was important to “keep it Vans”, so they used an existing style for the base, the “Lesley” and modified the upper. There was some resistance from within, some thought it was a little crazy, could this work? Well, Lanie from Hellz was the first to test drive the “Sophie”. The success of the style was huge and continues to prove itself in the market. Pozzebon and Young felt it important to grow with the consumer, adding this fashion style to the mix was their answer to maintaining that relationship as well as gaining new ones. Due to Vans history, quality standards and competitive pricing they’re seeing new business in the fashion footwear market. Job well done!
With the success of the “Sophie”, Van’s got together with Stüssy Girls head designer, Pauline Saunders, to offer her the opportunity to work it her way. First up was modifying the silhouette a bit, for this collab the “Sophie” became the “Bailie”, this was done by changing the “last” or sole to an etched leather (attention to detail: check!). The goal with this partnership was to “keep it traditional with Stussy flavor”, this is apparent in the toe cap detailing which is reminiscent of traditional men’s brogues or wingtips and carries through to the shoebox which looks like a well traveled suitcase, we love this! Saunders said that she was “excited but a little nervous” about this project because it was such a huge leap for Stussy being that this is such a fashion style and not the traditional sneaker. But Saunders feels this footwear style has become a “basic” these days therefore felt strongly about it’s success. She also agreed that this direction was an answer to growing with the customer, stating that “the Juniors market often times stays Juniors” and that the young men’s market has an easier time growing-up, she saw this opportunity to actually grow with and grow the customer into a new direction as to not “lose the customer”.
Growth is good. Knowing the importance of brand loyalty is important and growing with your customer is key to honoring that loyalty and maintaining the relationship. The recent collaborations Vans has done with Hellz and Stussy, show a step in a different direction that happens to be the right direction. We look forward to more special projects from Vans and welcome change and forward thinking. As a former girl that has grown into a lady, I say “Thank you”.
*The shoes and bottles of wine were received as a gift from Vans.
Layout by: Lady Lexx
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