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

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