The Story Behind VANS x VSSL
Every company experiences milestones; some good, some bad - and some just damn awesome!
Getting the chance to collaborate with an iconic brand like VANS is just damn awesome! Here’s how it went down and why this has meant a lot more than just another product collaboration.
We were at our largest trade show of the year when the fine folks from Vans walked up and started asking about our products. At these shows you meet a ton of interesting people from a wide range of companies, so this in itself wasn't a huge surprise. What I did notice (and point out to the Vans people) was that 4 of the guys at the booth (including me) were wearing Vans shoes!
I had pretty much forgotten about this meeting until a few months later when I got an email with "Hello, how are you? Would love to collaborate with you!" in the subject line. I nearly deleted it but then I spotted "Vans" in the body. I read on: "I saw your product at OR and was blown away! I'd love to talk to you about our companies working together!".
So I picked my jaw up off the floor.
We've worked with some amazing companies, and I really hope I keep getting emails like this and that they never cease to shock me. I remember a few years back when I received a similar email from Hasbro to do a G.I. Joe version of VSSL. This created the same, emotionally charged feeling. A brand I've known and loved since I was a kid wanting to align with a product that I've created - based on my experiences from when I was a kid. There are very few brands where the nostalgia runs this thick. But Vans is different for me.
After my dad died, we really didn't have a lot of money. My mom had no job when he died and she was left with debt and went bankrupt. I remember trying to find two matching shoes in a bin at the grocery store. My brother and I fighting over who'd get the green ones and who'd get the blue ones (he'd win). That was just life. But we'd see other kids wearing the shoes we really wanted. And for me it was the Vans checkerboards.
It would take my mom a few years to find steady work, and I remember the time we went to the "big city" (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) to visit relatives and do some back to school shopping. I was 13, maybe 14 and for the first time ever, able to buy a pair of Vans: the now classic checkerboard. So when I saw the first mock-ups of the shoe styles Vans was creating for us, and a checkerboard version was one of them, I got a bit teary eyed. It wasn't so much about the nostalgia or the fact that Vans has remained a classic and aspirational brand all these years, it was more about what was missing.
My mom wasn't materialistic at all, but she was a proud woman. And when she could help her kids get something they truly wanted, there was a strong sense of accomplishment. She had struggled a lot. She deserved the big victories and the small ones. Like a pair of Vans for her kid. So knowing how proud she would have been to see her son do a project with Vans… that’s what was missing. She was and always will be missed.
So in a way that not a lot of people will understand, this is a collaboration that takes me back to a very meaningful time in my life. I'm now nearly 50 and every couple of years since mom bought me that first pair of Vans, I buy myself a pair of Vans.
- Todd Weimer, VSSL Founder