Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Primary research - Contacting the Zephyr Team

I wanted to know what the real trigger for the Skateboarders, specifically the Zephyr team for wearing Vans.  The First NSA competition for a number of years took place in 1975 and the Zephyr Team turned out in a uniform of Levis, Navy Vans and Zephyr tshirts however this was an orchestrated uniform planned by their management.

I have emailed/tweeted/facebook messaged as many of the Zephyr team as I can find contact details for.  So far I have had a response from Skip Engblom who was the co owner of the Zephyr surf shop along with Craig Stycek and Jeff Ho.

This is what I sent and the reply I received:

From: lwdesign
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 4:03 AM 

Subject: Vans footwear and The Zephyr team 

Hi Skip

I hope you don't mind me contacting you on this email. I would appreciate your input as primary research for my dissertation. I am a mature student studying Graphic Design at Leeds College of Art in the UK.

I am undertaking a critical analysis of Vans the brand from its authentic roots in the USA in 1966 through their association with the subcultural Zephyr skateboarders to mass consumption in the late seventies/ early eighties. Right though to the hyperreal world it now occupies; made in Vietnam but appealing to today's youth culture through its California/surfer/skater roots.

I have watched the Dogtown and Z-boys documentary and also read Skateboarding, Space and the City by Iain Borden. I have also read various interviews in Skateboarder and on Juice.

The reason for contacting you is although I know the Zephyr team started wearing a uniform of Levis, blue vans and blue t shirts for entering competitions I cant find the real trigger for Skateboarders wearing Vans or indeed the year it actually started. Was it the association with Surfing/the sea? I have found stuff about their 'usability' ie the waffle grip sole. I also notice the original Vans store is in Anaheim only 40 miles from Venice Beach. Was there some other link? Did you know anyone at Vans, for example before they started paying the team to wear the shoes after Off the Wall? Or was it pure Youth Culture happening in California at the time.... a signifier.

Any facts or ideas which you would like to contribute at this time would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards Lisa Whitaker

From: "Skip Engblom"
To: "lwdesign" 
Date: Oct 31 2012, 03:05 PM 
Subject: Re: Vans footwear and The Zephyr team 

They had a small store in Santa Monica and would make you custom shoes.Also they were very cheap to buy 

He then followed it up with a second email:

From: "Skip Engblom" 

To: "lwdesign" 
Date: Oct 31 2012, 03:22 PM 
Subject: Re: Vans footwear and The Zephyr team 

Also Steve Van Dorn worked there part of the time. 
Back then there was a lot of places that did custom things Surf trunks were not easy to get before 1967.You went to a place in Feb or March and ordered your trunks and were ready in May or June. If you went to Hawaii you made a stop at Takie in Wakkaii or H.MURIA on the north shore in Santa Monica you went to Roy,s cabana down south you went to Kustom by Katin.It was a different time and when Duke Boyd told some one he was starting a trunk company called hang ten people said it was the lamest name ever

I subsequently found this:

If you haven’t been to the Vans Santa Monica store recently, you won’t recognize it. One of Vans’ earliest stores, the 4th and Broadway location dates back to the early 70s when a young Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta and Wes Humpston stopped by to get their first waffle soles. Join them this Sunday at 1 pm to meet three skateboard legends for autographs and Vans swag. Vans Santa Monica 400 W. Broadway Santa Monica, CA 90401 310-394-1413

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Dissertation tutorial

I discussed what I had discovered about Vans in terms of its history from the 60's to present day.  My initial proposal was trying to pin down why young people buy into the brand today.
I think the key points in their history is

60's - 70's A customised brand - Made on your doorstep.   Skateboarders started wearing Vans and Vnas customised them in 76 so more hard wearing 'Off the wall'

80' Mass culture through Hollywood movie Fast times - Global brand

90's/ 2000 US American apparel owned, made in Asia, mainly Vietnam.  Brand built on USA 66 sufer dude culture.  Targeting youth culture.

Chapter structure could be:

1. 60's/70's history of brand and sub cultural theorird- Hebdidge-looking for authentic symbols

2. 80's Identity in mas culture - Adorno - Culture Industry - plugging, psedo-indivdualism, N Klein No Logo.  Hebdidge Incorporation - Crtical approach

3. Post modern - Contemorary , identity fluid, neo tribes,  Acticely consume to create meaning.
Baudrillard - Building on USA Branding made in Vietnam - Hyperality created by branding?


Complete an extended essay plan
Start drafting chapter one

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Vans in Camden London & online

Selling a lifestyle still Based on the California/surfer dream

How many different styles of Vans?  Not customised but certainly a huge range.

Online there are over 200 styles to chose from including a range called California authentic - although dont think this means they are made in USA just based on the heritage of the brand from 66

Vans & UK music festival

Vans are still very much associated with skatebaording, surfing and music.  Testament to this is their sponsorship of various UK music festivals:

NASS (not sponsored by vans in 2012)  They did sponsor individual Skaters in the Skater competition


The article that said Vans sponsored these events was 2008 since then Vans have introduced their own festival called Vans Warped tour

Complete with online store

Quite scary when you click on Vans UK and your own son (Oliver) and his friends are all their having liked Vans on Facebook..

Monday, 15 October 2012

Vans the global shoe brand


Global footwear statistics

Global Footwear Industry

The global footwear market is expected to reach $195 billion by 2015, according to research from Global Industry Analysts, with volume sales exceeding 13 billion pairs by 2012. Market growth is predicted to rebound as consumer confidence builds in the post-recession economy.

Footwear sales have been falling in developed countries and slowing in emerging countries due to lower income levels; and therefore, less spending on apparel and footwear. Consumers are focusing increasingly on value for money, looking for simple, hard-wearing shoes that last. Designer shoes have borne the brunt of this shift in consumption brought on by the economic recession. Shoe manufacturers and retailers are since forced to compete on price and value.

Market Products

  • The outdoor footwear market is driven by demand for shoes that permit easy, fast movement. Products are increasingly lightweight and offer more and more flexibility. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor footwear grew over 14% year-on-year to over $990 million for the first five-months of 2011.

  • The athletic footwear market is dominated by a few large players. The US is the largest importer of athletic footwear, mostly manufactured in Asia. Athletic shoes are used across a range of sports, including basketball, tennis and running. Brands are often associated with specific sports, for example Nike for basketball.

  • The leather footwear market includes the manufacture and retail of different types of shoes, including casual, sports and dress shoes. Leather is a common material in high-end shoes, used in many designer brands. US brands often source their leather from outside of the US, in countries such as India.

Regional Markets

China exports more shoes than any other country, producing almost 13 billion pairs, or 63% of overall production, in 2010, according to RNCOS. Domestic sales have been driven by online shopping and rising demand for specific brands. China has been faced with domestic currency appreciation, along with rising raw materials and production costs. Branded shoes are strong sellers in China, with companies popularizing their shoes with promotional practices. China’s footwear market has recorded strong growth in consumption and exports, which is likely to continue at an annual volume growth rate of 7% for the few years to come. Exports are strong because on the domestic market, Chinese people consume less than 2.5 pairs of shoes each year, whereas the Western average is far higher.

According to MarketLine, advanced emerging markets - Poland, Hungary, Brazil, South Africa, and Taiwan - will reach a combined value of almost $24,219 million in 2014, at an annually growth rate in excess of 4% over five years. Brazil’s footwear market takes the lead, generating revenues of over $9,960 million in 2009.

India’s footwear market is expected to record strong growth in the years to come, reports RNCOS. The market, which has been impacted by an increasing presence of international companies, is predicted to record close to 10% annual growth from 2011 to 2014. The market is fuelled by advantageous factors such as a skilled workforce combined with low labor costs. In production terms, India is second only to China. This market sector drives expansion in India’s leather exports.

There are not only large companies operating in the US footwear market, but also smaller independent brands, which are often acquired by large and mid-size companies. The industry is highly fragmented. In 2010, many companies diversified their product offerings, concentrating on mid-priced or economy athletic brands.

The UK footwear market has been impacted by the economic recession, with consumers cutting down on discretionary purchases. The 65 years and over demographic remains the leader in terms of customer loyalty, with a 90% loyalty score, according to Verdict. Younger consumers shop around to find bargains or try out new brands, with a loyalty score of less than 86%. Retailers are concentrating their efforts on factors such as service, convenience, and ambience, which foster consumer loyalty. Leading UK footwear retailers include Shoe Zone, Primark, Clarks, TescoVisitor, and Brantano. 

Industry Leaders

Key players on the global footwear market include Bata, Deckers, Brown Shoes, Wolverine, Weyco, ECCO, Kenneth Cole, Nine West, Timberland, Puma, Gucci, Lacrosse, Vans, San Paulo & Alpargatas, R.G. Barry, Nike and Adidas.

Market Outlook

The global footwear industry has been witnessing a decline. Moving forward, companies operating in developed markets such as the US will continue outsourcing production to cheaper countries like Indonesia, China and Vietnam.

With consumers looking for bargains due to the economic recession, the shift toward cheap imports will continue, accounting for the majority of domestic demand. The industry will see revenue continue to decline, and pricing pressures will make the market environment increasingly competitive.

Leading Industry Associations

Vans not just produced in Vietnam


Footage of Vans footwear manufacture in Vietnam.  The process is still relies on a large proportion of  manual/human labour .

Would be interesting to know the percentage split of costs/profit on a pair of vans.  I would expect Branding and promotion to be the highest proportion as most of these costs occur in Western society.

Sunday, 7 October 2012


The US Corporate behind Vans...

VF Corporation's world headquarters is located in Greensboro, North Carolina, where our senior management team is based, along with our corporate Strategy, Finance, Global Business Technology, Global Supply Chain, Law and Human Resources teams. Our unique business model supports the individuality of our lifestyle brands, each of which has their own headquarters and management team focused on their consumers and customers.

Our Outdoor-International business is headquartered in Lugano, Switzerland, as are the European-based operations of the Eastpak, Reef, Vans, Napapijri and Nautica brands. 

Production Facilities
VF's global sourcing team is based in Hong Kong. The group has approximately 1,300 associates and manages the development and sourcing of nearly 45 percent of VF's units worldwide. The Asia team focuses heavily on product development, speed-to-market and factory compliance.
VF has sourcing relationships with more than 1,000 product manufacturing facilities in Asia-Pacific region countries, including China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Pakistan and In

Where does Steve Van Doran fit into the VF Corp??  He talks like its still family owned and he wants to bring production back to USA from China (& Vietnam)

VF in China

'The freedom to be who they want to be; our brands can reflect their values..." !

The Vans® brand seeks to be the number one action sports and youth culture brand in Asia, helping consumers embrace, elevate and unlock their creative self expression. During the next five years, the Vans® brand anticipates adding $200 million to its Asia Pacific business, with a 22 percent annual growth rate. Growth is expected to come from leveraging the brand’s authenticity and deep connectivity with youth culture, focusing on its skate and music brand pillars, expanding its direct-to-consumer business and delivering locally relevant product innovation.

VF Corporation’s Fastest-Growing International Business to Reach $2.0 Billion in Revenues by 2017
SHANGHAI, China, Sept. 19, 2012 – VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC) today announced details on its goal to add $1.1 billion in revenues to its Asia Pacific business over the next five years. At an investor meeting held in Shanghai, China, the company discussed its strategic plans to reach $2.0 billion in revenues by 2017, primarily through growth from its five largest brands in the region – Timberland®, Lee®, The North Face®, Vans® and Kipling®. This represents an annual growth rate of 17 percent from 2012 forecasted revenues of approximately $900 million.
The company also confirmed its previous 2012 expectation given on July 27 for revenues in Asia to increase about 20 percent, and for revenues in Europe to grow at a low double-digit rate.
“Our Asia Pacific revenues have grown nearly five-fold since 2007 and we continue to see tremendous opportunities for growth in all our brands,” said Eric Wiseman, VF Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “That’s the power of VF’s diversified global portfolio.”
Aidan O’Meara, President, VF Asia Pacific, noted, “Our strategies for growth in Asia Pacific – winning big in China, expanding our footprint within other countries in the region, leveraging our scale and focusing on our largest brands – give us confidence in our ability to reach $2.0 billion in revenues by 2017 in this growing and dynamic market. VF has invested heavily and consistently in consumer research in China, which has helped us better understand Chinese consumers and position our brands in a way that speaks to their desires and aspirations.”
Karl Heinz Salzburger, Group President, VF International, provided a longer-term view on VF’s international mix of business. “In 2012, we expect international sales to comprise about 37 percent of VF’s total revenues. With the addition of Timberland and the continued strong growth expected in our Asia Pacific and European businesses, we now believe international revenues could account for 45 percent of total revenues by 2017.”

To be continued...

Vans history

1 March 1966:  Paul Van Doran, Jim Van Doran, Gordon Lee and Serge D'Ella formed the Van Doren Rubber Company.  the factory, office and retail outlet were all set up at 704 East Broadway in Anaheim, South California.

Paul Van Doran had worked his way up over 20 years from sweeping floors to Exec Vice President at Randy's a Boston based show manufacturer.

Paul realised that shoe manufacturers did not make much of the money, the money was all in retail.  This is why he pioneered Direct Retailing .  Started with 16 styles of deck shoes, each with a style number.  Men cost $4.49 and women cost $2.29

vintage van doren #44 authentic
brown canvas
made in usa circa 1973

In 1975, the Vans #95, known today as the Era was designed by Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta.  With a padded collar and different colour combinations the Era becomes the shoe of choice for a generation of skateboarders.
by 1975 skateboarders in southern california including the infamous zephyr surf/skate team all officially wore navy blue style #44 as uniform.
almost 10 years to the day following van's beginnings as the leader in canvas casuals, the van dorens took notice of local legends stacey peralta & tony alva's tendency to prefer customade pairs for skating. they wanted different colour combinations & were also known for buying one van at a time & often replaced the rear shoe only which copped more heat using them in turning pivots. as such, on march 18 1976 vans released the 1st ever skateboarding shoe in the archetypal style #95. the vulcanised effects of the style #44 pure crepe rubber waffle outsole, essential for skateboarding, were retained & combined with the padded collar of a style #45 & padded heel panel for greater reinforcement. last but not least it was the attitude that was missing which vans compensated for using the classic outer 'off the wall' heel counter & releasing them in 2-tone colour combinations. the blue/gold/blue & brown/beige/brown shortly followed the original blue/red/blue which became synonomous with dogtown crew & attained legendary status. the style #95 was later named the 'era' as it was this era of the late 70's which defined vans for generations.

vintage van doren style #95 era
dogtown 2tone blue/red/blue canvas
made in usa circa 1976

Well some things never change. The story from the second era is really all about Vans – what made the brand so cool?
They had no other competitors in the early days, and they definitely had good grip for skating. Originally intended as sailing or beach shoes, Vans became aware of their skate following, so they produced style #95 (designed by Tony Alva) followed by style #34, then hightops called style #38. They sponsored a lot of skateboarders and contests, and they were the first shoe company to advertise in early Skateboarder magazines. So everybody knew them. Vans also was the first company which paid a professional skateboarder to wear their shoes and so Stacey Peralta became the first to receive endorsement cheques from a shoe company. 

Circa 1978
vintage van doren syle #95 era
2-tone blue/gold/blue dogtown canvas
off the wall
made in usa circa 1978
size N/A
new in box

vintage vans style #98 slip-on
2-tone pink/black canvas
made in usa circa 1978

Checkerboard slip on
Universal Studios asked Vans for some shoes for a new film called Fast times which starred Sean Penn.  his character Jeff Spicoli , a stoned surfer dude wore the checkerboard slip ons through out the movie.

Sales went through the roof into the millions.  Vans went global. 

1989 Steve Cabellero
Steve turned professional skateboarder in 1980.  By 1989 he designed a pair of Vans Cabs - specialist skater footwear.  the half cab followed two years later after Steve strated see his full cbs being customised by Skaters.

1993 BMX

vintage vans style #95 era (re-fresh)
usa stars & stripes betsy printed canvas
uci nbl worl championship scene PQ
customade in usa 1993
new (without box)

2005 Hollywood influence again with the launch of a movie about the Zephyr who wore Blue 44.

Vintage Vans Collectables

Hollywood actress Kirsten Stewert sporting 'Vintage' Vans