You hardly need us to tell you that Vans have been a streetwear staple for what seems like an eternity. Lil B and The Pack had their Vans on (but they looked like sneakers!) back in 2006. A full decade later, nearly every song on our 2016 rotation namechecked Vans, think: Kanye, 21 Savage, SZA, Tyler the Creator, Famous Dex, Meek Mill…
We can confidently declare 2016 the year of Vans, with every man, woman and potentially their dog sporting a pair. So, after their models became a wardrobe must-have last year, we were left wondering how the brand was going to evolve into 2017.
But never fear! Vans hit the accelerator hard in 2017 and they’re showing no signs of slowing down. Silhouettes like the Slip-On and Sk8-Hi became so hot that their sole imprints must nearly be burned into cities' sidewalks. However, Vans stepped up to another level, releasing some highly sought-after colabs.
Let’s make like The Pack’s Lil Uno and go slide real quick over Van’s 2017 highlights, like we got skates on!
Bringing Pink to the Rink
Anti Social Social Club and Vans met up this year to deliver a colab stocked solely at Dover Street Market. If we do the maths, Vans + Anti Social Social Club + an air of exclusivity = a winning formula for a hype 2017 release.
The collaborators were certainly thinking pink with this May drop: a black Sk8-Hi and a white Authentic were placed atop candy coloured soles and the stitching came in the same hue. Laces told us to ‘expect the unexpected’. This was a message that left us a little confused: while the release was a hypebeast hit and looked pretty sweet, there was nothing particularly out of the ordinary about these Vans make-ups. The sole logo encouraged us to ‘get weird’; a message that the Based God himself would surely endorse.
Vans Put the Fear of God into Skaters
Vans pulled up a pew at Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear of God church in 2017, and it proved to be a prosperous move for both collaborators. They resurrected the Style 147 – a lesser-known model from Vans' archive – in an all-red colourway, as well as white and black, and red and black iterations. Furthermore, the Sk8-Hi, the Era and the Mountain Edition emerged from the FOG. Fear of God’s typography covered these sell-out silhouettes, making it blatantly obvious to everyone that you managed to cop a number from the collection.
With all-black 147 release rumoured to be on the horizon, don’t expect this collaboration to cool as we roll into 2018.
Blood and Semen Sprayed All Over the Streets
Andres Serrano stands as one the world’s most controversial visual artists. His 1987 photograph Piss Christ caused mass outrage: teens attacked the work with hammers, church officials and senators attempted to take the artist to court, and Serrano (and even gallery staff) were inundated with death threats.
Serrono’s been out of the headlines for a while now, but when Supreme and Vans got together to create a line that’d instantly grab our attention, they knew just the man to call.
In a September release, Vans’ Chukka, Old Skool and Sk8-Hi models were covered in Serrano’s 1990 work, Blood and Semen II. It’s not the first time Serrano’s blood and semen have spilled out of the confines of the art world: this work was also the cover of Metallica’s 1996 Load.
Whether or not Vans and Supreme intended for it to be so, this colab was a metalevel commentary on current streetwear trends. Walk into any mall and you’ll see pairings of Sk8-His and vintage Metallica tees everywhere. Vans’ 2017 success has definitely proven that what goes around comes around.
Of course, no one would even dare to take to this trio of Vans with their Supreme hammer. Rather than being interpreted as an act of sacrilege, masses worshiped at the altar of this sellout Holy Hypebeast Trinity. The times, they are a changin’: blood and semen don’t shock us much nowadays.
Still, the release pack’s ‘Blood and Semen’ title at least made for catchy clickbait titles (yes, we’re probably guilty…). In any case, kudos to Vans and Supreme for introducing Serrano’s impressive body of work to a new generation.
As we wrap up the year in Vans, it seems fitting to revisit one of the classic songs that started it all for us. Long live The Pack!