Mak­ing tracks with Mickey and friends

Dis­ney, Vans team up on shoes and ap­parel

Los Angeles Times - - P9 - By Adam Tschorn

A col­or­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Dis­ney and Vans that hit re­tail June 5 brings some of the en­ter­tain­ment gi­ant’s most beloved car­toon char­ac­ters — Mickey Mouse, Min­nie Mouse, Don­ald Duck and Win­nie the Pooh among them — to the ac­tion sports brand’s lineup of footwear, ap­parel and ac­ces­sories. It also brings two sto­ried com­pa­nies with deep South­ern Cal­i­for­nia roots — some of them in­ter­twined for decades — back to­gether dur­ing Dis­ney­land’s 60th an­niver­sary year and the eve of Vans’ 50th.

“My dad built his first fac­tory one mile from here,” said Steve Van Doren, son of Vans’ co-founder Paul Van Doren, “at 704 East Broad­way. It was like three lights up.”

“Here” is the Ana­heim theme park where Steve Van Doren has come on a sunny spring day to cel­e­brate the launch of the col­lab­o­ra­tive col­lec­tion. Although as vice pres­i­dent of events and pro­mo­tions he’s long served as a rov­ing am­bas­sador at large for the com­pany (which has been a sub­sidiary of VF Corp. since 2004), this part­ner­ship has per­sonal con­nec­tions. 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.

Sit­ting at a ta­ble out­side Ran­cho Del Zocalo Res­tau­rante in Fron­tier­land, wear­ing a Mickey & Friends trucker cap, Mickey Mouse Vans slip-ons and an ear-to-ear grin, Van Doren ex­plained how the first thing his fa­ther did the first morn­ing af­ter mov­ing the fam­ily west from Bos­ton in the ’60s was take them to Dis­ney­land, how Vans pro­vided cus­tom­ized footwear for park em­ploy­ees (in­clud­ing the mono­rail and sub­ma­rine at­trac­tions) in the ’70s and made pri­vate-la­bel kicks for Dis­ney stores in the ’80s.

“So this is a big deal,” Van Doren said of the new part­ner­ship. “[In 2013] we brought back some of those re­ally early [pri­vate-la­bel] shoes we did for the Dis­ney stores as a very limited-edi­tion [Vault by Vans] col­lec­tion, but this … time every­body will be able to get some­thing — ap­parel, footwear, ac­ces­sories.”

Launch­ing for fall 2015, the co­branded 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 Go on­line to read more from Vans’ Steve Van Doren about the com­pany’s long re­la­tion­ship with the Mouse House. 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), Tshirts ($34.50 to $59.50), but­ton fronts ($60), bucket hats ($42) and back­packs ($50).

Two things should be noted about the above de­signs. First, they rep­re­sent just the be­gin­ning of the col­lab­o­ra­tive char­ac­ter pa­rade, with fu­ture col­lec­tions planned to fo­cus on other in­hab­i­tants of the Magic King­dom (such as a Dis­ney princess col­lec­tion that will cen­ter on Belle, Jas­mine and Ariel). In ad­di­tion, re­tailer Jour­neys is get­ting a cou­ple of ex­clu­sive shoes in­clud­ing Dis­ney vil­lains and a checker­board Mickey de­sign.

Sec­ond, as a tes­ta­ment to the long-run­ning re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two brands, the shoe de­sign­ers 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’.... It was kind of sur­pris­ing.”

Vans head of footwear de­sign Rian Pozze­bon sin­gled out that de­sign as his fa­vorite, but 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.”

The Dis­ney X Vans Young at Heart col­lec­tion is avail­able at Vans re­tail stores, se­lect re­tail lo­ca­tions glob­ally and on­line at www.vans.com.

adam.tschorn@la­times.com

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