marco polo s early life Disney join forces on colorful new line
“Here” is the Anaheim, Calif., theme park where Steve Van Doren has come on a sunny spring day to celebrate the launch of the collaborative collection. Although he’s long served as a roving ambassador at large for the company (which has been a subsidiary of VF Corp. since 2004 his official title is vice president of events and promotions), this partnership has a personal connection. That’s why he’d started this particular day by piloting a giant Mickey emblazoned Vans Sk8 Hi sneaker through the park (it was a prop to be used later in the day) and would end it by holding a VIP photo op with some of the very same characters featured in the new collection.
Launching for fall 2015, the co branded Young at Heart men’s and women’s collection is anchored by six styles of footwear from the Vans Classics collection: two slip ons (one showcasing Mickey Mouse, another featuring Minnie, $60), two takes on the Authentic lace up shoe (one with a Donald Duck design, the other with a Winnie the Pooh print, $60) and a riotous, colorful graphic featuring Goofy, Pluto, Donald and Mickey splashed across two different styles an Era ($60) and a Sk8 Hi Reissue ($75). (In addition, all but the Sk8 Hi and the Donald Duck shoe are being offered in kids’ and toddler sizes, which retail for $42 and $37, respectively.) Variations on the graphics also appear on an extensive range of accessories and apparel including keychains ($12), socks ($15), T shirts ($34.50 to $59.50), button fronts ($60), bucket hats ($42) and backpacks ($50).
Second, as a testament to the long running relationship between the two brands, the shoe designers (two of whom were on hand for the collection’s unveiling at the park) were given a surprising amount of leeway in subtly tweaking the classic characters. For example, in the allover print Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse patterns some versions of each character are kitted out in colorful sneakers instead of their traditional footwear. The Donald Duck graphics which depict the patience challenged bird in mid tirade include speech balloons full of punctuation invective.
But it’s the Winnie the Pooh shoe that perhaps best symbolizes the shared history of the two SoCal companies. It features various manifestations of the beloved bear seemingly meandering across a canvas upper. One Pooh reaches for a butterfly. Another carries a wooden skateboard under his left arm (hewn from a tree in the Hundred Acre Wood, naturally). And one sits on his bear behind, skateboard under his arm with a busted front wheel visible in front of him. Atop his head is a safety helmet made from a beehive.
“They weren’t sure they wanted Winnie the Pooh to be on a skateboard,” said Vans Classics footwear designer Calvin Garcia. “But once we put the helmet on him they said ‘Yes,’ so we were pretty excited about it. It was kind of surprising.” Although Vans head of footwear design Rian Pozzebon singled out that design as his favorite, he pointed out that each pair of shoes in the collection is worth studying up close. “We’ve hidden a Mickey somewhere on every single shoe,” Pozzebon said. “It’s in there somewhere.”