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The Closet Staple - Vans on the Customizablog


Here on the Customizablog, we've highlighted all sorts of brands, from small to really small, and it's not because we don't think that big companies don't do great work. They do, in most cases, that's why they're big companies. Most of those large scale manufacturers don't put an onus on customization, however. A few of them have dipped their toes into the wild waters of Brand Fan design, but not in the way that, say, Trumaker or Modify has. For instance, you can customize a few (awesome) pairs of Nikes — and that catalog is steadily expanding — but the limitations are still too severe for us to consider the world's leading athletic wear company to also be a leader in the field of customizable merch. But Vans is different. Nearly every shoe in the skateshoe orignator's catalog can be customized, and the options are essentially limitless*. Take the Vans Calling Card: The Authentic. If you are a fan of the Authentic — which you should be, because it's practically perfect — in addition to being a fan of customizing things that you will soon be wearing on your person, you got options. Like, lots of options. Like, 110,592-possible-combinations-before-you-even-hit-the-lace-color kind of options. Literally. There are 27 colors to choose from, 21 patterns to choose from and three places that these collective 48 options can go. The equation needed to prove that usually-overused "literally"-drop in the previous paragraph is 48^3. You know what 48x48x48 equals? An essentially limitless shoe-shopping experience, that's what. Or 110,592, but you should've guessed that by now. Why does Vans do that to themselves, you ask? Because it's in their DNA. They've been customizing kicks ever since Vans was the Van Doren Rubber Company back in 1966. Working out of a tiny cinderblock shop, Vans had the fortuitous ability to make one pair of shoes at a time. The shoes were also super affordable and came with a rubber soul, which made them great for skateboarding and thus adopted by the surf and skate communities. Those same surfers and skaters also had some pretty crazy ideas about color palettes, and Vans was the only shoe company that could turn those ideas into reality. So began a partnership that fed off of each other's creativity. When skateboarding got bigger than SoCal, so did Vans. But the shoemaker never trashed the notion of customization; the idea of creating the perfect shoe for a customer remained part of who they were. Even today, you can make like those skateboarders asking for traffic-cone orange shoes. But because this is 2014, you can get a shoe that has a yellow toebox, a red-striped upper and an aloha print tongue, just because. That's right, Vans is so dedicated to customization that they would create that monstrosity, and potentially sully their good name, just to make you happy**. So, while some big companies make like Steve Jobs and just tell you what you want, Vans still trusts in you, the customer. And we dig that.   Footnotes *You can try to disprove this, but you better not be employed in any reasonable capacity, have any obligations that need attending nor possess any pets that require food, walks, water or attention. Why? Because to reach any sort of limit, the time required would make you, according to Malcolm Gladwell, a "genius" in the field of Vans color option combinations, which might sound ok right now, but it won't look good on a business card. We promise. ** Please don't get that particular shoe, however, because we might have incidentally stumbled upon the ugliest shoe ever.


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