Recognized today by its iconic checkerboard slip-ons and ‘Off the Wall’ slogan, Vans was able to separate its path from that of other sneaker brands by spending the last several decades building up a unique brand identity. In the early 1970s, Vans created skate shoes for now-legendary skateboarders Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta — the so-called “pioneers” of modern skateboarding. The shoes were a huge commercial success, and the rest, as they say, was history. With its feet firmly rooted in this rich legacy, Vans went on to become the ultimate supporter and embodiment of youth culture through its myriad of involvements in the action sports, music, art, and street fashion world.

Welcome to the 44th issue of B.

When a brand starts up, it is often said that the brand is being "created." Without care and affection, however, a great beginning means nothing, and a brand will never grow to earn respect. We have seen a number of failures come from grand starts. This is due to a lack of constant management and improvement. The beginning is just the beginning. Good brands, in my opinion, are created in the process that comes after that.

We here at B have also been working to improve the magazine, ever since our first issue. And from this issue on, readers will be welcomed by an “Editor's Letter,” instead of our regular “Publisher’s Letter”. In it, I will do my best to share what I have experienced in the field and what I experienced during interviews home and abroad.

Unlike other magazines that undergo dramatic makeovers, B has focused on making gradual design improvements. You might not notice the changes immediately, but if you look at our issues published one or two years ago, the difference is clear. Two important design changes have been made in this issue: We have revamped our typography, the most basic but trickiest element in magazine design, and we have tried to create a clearer distinction between the visual look of each article. It is our hope that these changes will help make the editorial intentions of our magazine even clearer than before.

In this issue we introduce Vans, a Californiabased sneaker brand that has its roots in action sports. Vans is usually associated with youth subcultures, such as skateboarding and hip-hop, but the brand’s true value lies in its unwavering advocacy for a specific culture over five decades, and the progress it has achieved in convincing people to share in the free spirit Vans embodies. This makes us reconsider the meaning of 'brand management.' Vans has cared so much for its skateboarders that it seems entirely natural for the founder’s son to drive them to competitions or for the company to support injured or retired players. During his interview with us, Steve Van Doren, the son of Vans’ founder, said that the most important thing to his father has “always [been] the people.” He also quoted his father, saying, “Vans is not a shoe company—it’s a people company that makes shoes.”

A simple makeover cannot transform someone into an entirely new being. Love and continual improvement are required to bring about great change and produce true innovation. The start of a new year might not be particularly satisfying, but it will be sure to end well if you just keep moving forward little by little.

Taehyuk Choi, Editor in Chief

Editor’s Note


Legend x Location

Places from Vans’ history, as recalled by the Vans family and a skateboarding legend


Opinion

Jürgen Blümlein, CEO of the Skateboard Museum


Origin

Early Vans sneakers found at the Vans HQ


Opinion

Ray Barbee, skateboarder


Variation

Contemporary Vans products as a diverse expansion on the company’s original models


Youth Culture

Youth culture leaders inspired by Vans’ “Off the Wall” spirit


Talk

Vans and sneaker culture from the perspectives of two street culture trendsetters


Partnership

Partners that share the Vans spirit


Shop

Historic sneaker models as recommeded by streetwear select shops


Brand Story

Following Vans’ entrance as the first skate shoe to becoming a youth culture icon


Inside Vans

Vans’ philosophy towards culture and people, as embodied in the California HQ


Factory

Vans’ roots in shoe manufacturing, as experienced in the Guangzhou factory


Legends in Vans

Former action sports legends now working at Vans


Culture

Four cultural pillars that align with Vans’ “Off the Wall” spirit


Interview

Kevin Bailey, President of VF Action Sports & Vans
Doug Palladini, Vice President and General Manager of North America


Legacy

Steve Van Doren, son of founder and ultimate ambassador


Figures

Vans by the numbers


PUBLICATION RIGHT

Publisher
Suyong Joh

Editor In Chief
Taehyuk Choi

Senior Editor
Eunsung Park

Editors
Jaewoo Seo, Yeongmin Kim

Intern Editor
Jisoo Kim

Translation
Hyunkyung Yoo, Narae Kim, Rancy Kim, Seongae Yang, Soonok Hwang

Copy Editing
Eugene Larsen-Hallock

Proofreading
Sarah Kessler Jang

Designer
Ayoon Jung

Filmmaker
Sukwang Baak

Distribution
Tony Song

Correspondents
Mihye Nam (Tokyo), Nari Park (London), Jungho Lee (New York), Jeewon Lim (Milan), Hyeseon Jeong (Paris)

Publishing
JOH & Company

Printed in the Republic of Korea

ISBN
978-89-98415-90-7 03050

REFERENCES

Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture
Sneakers: The Complete Limited Editions Guide
Stickers: Stuck-Up Piece of Crap: From Punk Rock to Contemporary Art
Blabac Photo: The Art of Skateboarding Photography Locals Only: California Skateboarding 1975-1978
Paddle Against the Flow: Lessons on Life from Doers, Creators, and Cultural Rebels
Complex Magazine
Thrasher
The Skateboard Mag, King Shit Magazine, Juice Magazine
theberrics.com
Proof Lab
Calling All Skaters Skateshop