Last week, Vans hosted an event at MAO Livehouse called Classic & Shanghai as part of a global project to celebrate almost five decades of Vans shoes. Aside from the display featuring the most famous Vans designs over the ages, there were also booths set up showcasing traditional Chinese caramel art and paper-cutting. The bar gave out free Tiger beer, and next to it was a buffet-style snack station serving a variety of traditional Chinese foods. A massive line ran through the floor and lead up to a group of young local artists including Nini from Idle Beats
and Neocha Edge's Momo Shou
drawing custom designs on complimentary Vans slip-ons and tote-bags, while local punk bands such as Shanghai’s Duck Fight Goose
and Beijing’s Larry’s Pizza
raged on stage.
From where we stood, it seemed as if Shanghai’s trendiest people had all gathered at MAO to celebrate the occasion. And through the crowd of undergraduates, skaters, hipsters, and art-lovers, many of whom were frantically leaping to the loud punk noise while simultaneously munching on baozi, it became clear that somehow, inexplicably, Vans has made Chinese tradition edgy. In the dim light of the livehouse, it seemed only natural that the Chinese paper-cutting artists should be clipping out classic Vans checkerboard designs, or that iconic Van slip-ons should be decorated by sketches of the Shanghai skyline.
Vans still has its roots in skater culture, and organizes skateboarding events in and around Shanghai frequently, but it is apparent that it is quickly becoming an icon of the city’s youth culture. Check out the following photos from their Classic & Shanghai event: