If art must be driven by commerce these days, then I’ll admit, Vans is doing it right.
Vans has also been sponsoring the Warped Tour since 1995, which at this point is a cesspool of bullshit bands and its sole function I’m sure, to the Punknews staff and its readership, is as a combination punchline/headline-content generator.
Punk rock and skate culture have always had a large overlap, so there’s no doubt you’ll find many punk kids in skateboarding shoes, especially Vans. I’m not sure exactly how, but canvas Vans sneakers have become the de facto footwear for the basement show set. I would guess that has been driven not insignificantly by veganism, a vocal community within punk since at least the late-80s, looking for an ethical shoe.
Vans “Authentic” sneaker costs, at its baseline, $45. That’s a canvas and rubber shoe that is made in a factory in the third world that doesn’t even have its workers’ wages guaranteed by Vans. How much of that $45 is going towards the free Heineken Light enjoyed by the Punknews contributors? Straight edge kids, weigh in on that. How much of that $45 is going toward the guarantee of, say, the Black Veil Brides? To the kids at the shows who sneer at preppy university students in, like, Georgetown DC wearing North Face jackets: Vans and the North Face are siblings in the Outdoor and Action Sports division of the VF Corporation.
And to the Punknews readership (of which I am obviously and unfortunately a part,) who would never align themselves with the readers of the Hype Machine or the base, celebrity-culture-obsessed readers of Just Jared and the Frisky: are you aware that to SpinMedia, the owner of all these sites, no matter how black your wardrobe and how grimy the house you live in is, you are just another “influential millenial” that is “2X more likely to plan to purchase a laptop?”
SpinMedia explains on their About page that they “understand the complex relationship between brands, content and millennial consumers.” To me, it doesn’t seem that complex at all: millenial punks, no matter how hard line and jaded and cynical, love to consume. They love House of Vans. They are so fucking hyped that they have sold out the entire season of shows there via Facebook RSVP.