• Transform magazine
  • September 22, 2019

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Vans brand experience favours youthfulness and creativity

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The London House of Vans is the second of its kind and the first in Europe. Opening its doors in the Old Vic Tunnels under Waterloo station, the site offers up experiences that complement the Vans identity.

The 30,000 square foot space has been redesigned by the Hellicar & Lewis communications agency and incorporates Vans branding, artwork and memorabilia throughout. The walls are covered in Vans-themed murals and the cinema’s floor and seat cushions proudly feature the brand’s famous chequerboard pattern.

In a statement announcing last weekend’s opening, Vans described the project as a “physical manifestation of the cultures and creativity that have defined [the brand] since 1966.”

Vans, a US clothing and footwear brand, has long been associated with skateboarding and the new House of Vans’ crowning glory is its indoor skate park. The building celebrates youth and skate culture, key aspects of the Vans brand. Art is also key to the House of Vans with the gallery space’s inaugural exhibition celebrating DIY culture and ‘zines. Vans chooses to align itself with creativity and self-made artists.

Vans was sure to include community in its new venture. All of the facilities are free to use and alongside the screenings, concerts and exhibitions, Vans says it will hold workshops for the local community.

The decision to stage and curate cultural events has also been done by Levis and its Live in Levi’s campaign and by Converse with its CONS project which saw it hosting gigs, talks, and creative workshops. The immersive nature of these brand experiences encourages brand engagement and sharing through social media and word-of-mouth.

Vans has been owned by the VF Corporation for the last decade. Lorna Hall, head of market intelligence at the trend forecaster WGSN, says, “VF understands that you can’t mess with the brand, that the brand is owned by the community who use it and that they can sniff out inauthenticity. It’s about how skilful you are as a management house and VF have quite an enlightened way of managing brands. They are always questioning what to do and trying to innovate.”