Brand Profile: Vans
** This interview was originally featured on CUT & SHOW on 13 May 2011
This week, we spoke to new Montreal transplant Jason Good, who packed his west coast bags to be the new Canadian sales manager for Vans. He talked to us about the new Geoff Rowley SPV shoe, collaborations with Vans’ brand advocates and why everyone needs a pair of Old Skools.
How did you get your start in the industry?
JG: I got into the industry when I was 18-years-old. I got my first start in the business on the snow side of things by working in a rental shop back in 1991 at Apex Resorts in Penticton. I loved snowboarding and needed a way to get deals on new stuff, so I got sucked into retail—and 15 years of retail later, I had an opportunity to move into the wholesale side of the business.
And you’ve been at Vans for how long now?
JG: I’ve been with Vans for five months. Before that, I ran a division for four years that managed five brands at No Limits.
Tell me about Vans as a brand and what it stands for.
JG: Vans is the original skate shoe company dating back to 1966. Most of us in this industry have owned a pair of Vans at some point because the brand relates to aspects of our youth, individual style and, of course, skateboarding. Over the past 45 years, the brand has resonated with all types of people, from skate to surf to BMX to art and to music. Inherently, it has impacted those cultures to some degree as we know them now.
What’s the key to the brand’s success over the decades?
JG: I think it’s two-fold. There is the overwhelming impact that Vans had on skateboarding while the sport was very young and continuing on as skateboarding evolved and became more encompassing and culturally diverse. A perfect example is the impact Vans has had through the music and art cultures. When you have something that resonates through such large entities, like music and art, it captures a large audience and creates a memorable bond. I’m sure you can recall a song from your youth that takes you to an exact time and place. They’ll remember when they saw their favorite band on tour or when they saw the movie "Rad" or when they were in a band and wore Vans. That’s always been the idea of heritage—we like to go back to things we know and feel comfortable in.
Nostalgia is big for people.
JG: Nostalgic. That’s a good word, and perfect if paired with "relevant". Both are true for Vans.
Vans - Slipon
Let’s talk about the newer collections. What are they looking like and are there any collaborations to look forward to?
JG: There’s always going to be new collections and collaborations with Vans. The OTW collection has seen a big push recently as the young collection continues to evolve. OTW is a little more lifestyle-driven; it’s definitely more for the forward-thinking person, but it still carries key elements of the Vans DNA. Within some of the different collections from Vans, we have seen collaborations from musical icons like Slayer, Kiss, Iron Maiden and Sex Pistols as well as some of the worlds top designers, but within OTW, we’re doing collaborations with what we call our advocates. These are people from the arts community that have had the ability to make a substantial impact that extends beyond their own craft of art and music. Mister Cartoon, who is a world famous tattoo artist. The Blackouts, the twin DJs out of Los Angeles. Design Studio founder and artist Eric Elms. Dimitri Coste, Parisian photographer and filmmaker. There are all sorts of people that identify with Vans, and this collection easily illustrates this through these advocate collaborations.
Vans - OTW Woessner
Vans - Kiss "Hotter than Hell" Slipon
Brands are always collaborating lately. As a person who’s been in the industry for awhile, what’s your take on that? Is the collaboration getting played out, or are they still of importance?
JG: I think they’re important if they’re relevant to the brand. If you’re doing a collaboration for the sake of collaboration then, no, I don’t think they’re relevant. When you look at a collaboration with someone like Mister Cartoon, you’ll see there’s a direct story back to Vans heritage. He loved Vans when he was a kid, and he is very passionate about his participation. He still loves to wear Vans, and the collaboration was a way for him to express himself with a brand he grew up with.
If anyone takes a look at the Vans site, it’s easy to see the brand has really come of the gates running with using different media platforms, from video to apps to social media channels. What does this mean for Vans?
JG: Appealing to a very diverse age group, you have to be active on multiple platforms. There’s going to be an older generation that may not use multi-media aspects to get a hold of Vans or find out what Vans is doing but, as we know, our core is driven off youth. And they’re using these tools. We can’t overstate how important this youth is for skateboarding and, in turn, Vans. So we always look to stay connected to our consumers and create more media for them to have access to and feel apart of. We’re doing everything we can to be part of that, and I think our culture allows us to do it very seamlessly.
What is OffTheWall.tv? Is the content only available online?
JG: Yes, it’s only available online. It is a platform that allows our Vans demographic access to all the key mediums to which Vans is tied to or identified with. As we discussed earlier, this would include product, athletes, music, art, street culture and more.
Is there any news our retailers and readers should be away of, in terms of campaigns or initiatives?
JG: We like to execute on all platforms, and these can rotate every one to three months. When we do our launch for Fall ’11, Geoff Rowley and his new shoe will be our global focus for all our skate shops. We have different campaigns within different collections, each tailored to a specific Vans fan.
Vans - Geoff Rowley
What trade shows can retailers see you at?
JG: We’ll be at the KNOW?SHOW—it’s a very important show for Canada's retailers . Based on time lines, we haven’t got specific dates locked down for any other Canadian shows yet.
So, what are your top two Vans items to have, old or new?
JG: I’m a little biased toward the Geoff Rowley SPV, because I think the shoe is an amazing evolution for a light weight performance skate shoe, and it looks sick. And you’ve got to have a pair of Old Skools—it just screams, "What up, stupid?!” [laughs]
Geoff Rowley SPV
Email Jason here:
- May Globus