Shoes, Skateboards & Songs: Singaporean musicians discuss the subcultural legacy of Vans

Shoes, Skateboards & Songs: Singaporean musicians discuss the subcultural legacy of Vans

Ever since it's inception in Anaheim back in 1966, Vans has always been inextricably linked to street subculture.

From the pioneering Southern California skateboarders of the early 70s' who were attracted to Vans' rugged make-up and sticky sole, to the brand's 15 year relationship with America's longest-running concert series, the Warped Tour, Vans has undoubtedly grown to be beloved on the streets, skate bowls and music stages of the world over the decades.

With an enviably rich legacy steeped in developing alternative musicians and the action sports lifestyle, it's almost impossible to simply view Vans as an apparel brand. From punk and hip-hop to BMXers and skaters - the former Van Doren Rubber Company transcends boundaries and has remained an icon to fans, musicians and athletes of all-ages who identify with their authentic and vibrant ethos.

With House of Vans famed tour making a stop in Singapore later this month and their current Musicians Wanted initiative, we thought that now would be a good time to speak to some of Singapore's most prominent alternative musicians about how their proclivity for Vans kicks have influenced their lifestyle and taste in music.

Yuji Kumagai (Cashew Chemists)

"I wear vans because I skate and the waffles soles and amazing board feel are the only thing that works for me. Waffle soles forever!

Vans has got the biggest chunk of history in youth and skate culture, with the Dogtown era and the Cali surf culture, all these things excited and inspired me as a teen. Even now. I've got at least five pairs of vans sneakers and I've worn all sorts of models, from the authentics to the half cabs to the old skools and slip ons.

Vans got me into punk rock and skate culture back in the day. Without punk rock, I don't think I wouldn't have been making music today - albeit producing a totally different genre now, I still remember my first stagedive with my old skools on. The best feeling."

Shaykh Akbar (The Summer State, Shaky Wrists)

"I feel like they're a brand that balances their classic look and modern stylings really well. I can totally see the Vans brand being relevant in any era and that is something I really dig. Vans is timeless.

Having mentioned about Vans being a brand with great balance, I feel like they have definitely established themselves to be associated with a lot of things that would especially relate to the youth. In my teenage years, I picked up skateboarding and Vans has always been my go to shoes. And the thrashier my shoes got, the more I loved them. I was always one to appreciate every mark and tear on my shoes, makes me feel like the pair I have is special and unlike the rest!

Well a huge chunk of bands that I really love have all been on Warped Tour. I never really thought of it that way but Vans really did shape my musical taste and influences, and for that I am eternally grateful."

Isa Ong (Pleasantry, sub:shaman)

"I own a few pairs of their classics that I wear regularly. I like how simple and comfy they are, and how their base designs have pretty much stayed the same for decades. Don't fix it if it isn't broken. Also their logo looks like square root ANS, which always gets to me.

Vans definitely has a strong relationship with skateboarding and music. Everyone knows Vans and skateboarding go hand-in-hand. I grew up trying my hand at skateboarding (I still suck) because i couldn't ride a bicycle till I was 14. And I've spent a big part of my teenage years listening to emo and looking up Warped Tour lineups.

Vans probably had the biggest effect on my music taste in the mid 2000s - the Warped Tour was the sh*t. All the emo, pop-punk music that I used to listen to will probably never leave my system. Not that I'd want it to."


Bud Young: "Vans is the shi*t! Comfortable, durable, simple, and looks even better when its worn out."

Mohamed Hanis Isahak: "Vans definitely has a historically strong relationship with street subculture and music. Nearly everyone has worn their Vans out to rock out at festivals and gigs. You see Vans on the feet of skaters and riders. Everyone does their thing and you know someone is rocking a pair of Vans."

Spacedays: "One thing is for sure, we've definitely played many shows in our Vans. You could say it has been with us all this time. *cue spooky sounds*"

Norsham Husaini (Plainsunset)

"Actually I couldn't afford any Vans shoes when we all started out. So I saved to get my first pair of Vans. When we were touring Hong Kong, I finally saved enough to get me a pair that I wore to all the shows that Plainsunset was playing way back. I was so proud that I owned a pair.

Then slowly saved and I got a pair for skating. Those pair of Vans lasted me throughout my skateboarding days at Memorial and the Capitol Carpark. It was these two pairs of shoes that always reminded me of how I needed to work to get where I am today and always reminded me of my days when I was not very well off.

Vans always reminded me on the community that we had with skateboarding and punk rock. And to always work hard to what you wanna achieve and not rely on sponsors or whatever to reach your goals. For that I wanna say thank you to those two pairs of shoes that I worked so hard for (I have many more now). and I still rock them today as a 40 year old."

House of Vans Singapore will take place on September 24, 2016. Please visit their official website to keep updated.