- Vans’ sales are through the roof.
- Vans has been making California skate culture a global phenomenon since the brand’s inception in the 1960s, and it’s currently hugely popular among teens.
- Piper Jaffray’s latest “Taking Stock With Teens” survey found that Vans had the fastest growth in popularity since the study started in 2000.
- Part of why the brand is so successful today is thanks to the popularity of athleisure and the resurgence of retro styles.
- We recently visited a Vans store in New York City to better understand why the brand is so successful right now.
Vans is bringing California skate culture around the world.
The brand is thriving after more than 50 years in business. Vans’ American sales rose 34% in the most recent quarter, parent company VF Corp announced on Friday.
In Piper Jaffray’s latest “Taking Stock With Teens” survey, the firm said that Vans saw the fastest growth in popularity of any brand it has studied since starting the survey in 2000. Vans is now the No. 2 favourite brand overall for footwear among teens, behind Nike, and it increased in popularity by a whopping 800 basis points year-over-year. It now holds a 19% share for favourite footwear among all teens, which Piper Jaffray says is the closest another brand has gotten to Nike in years.
“People are wearing athletic apparel now for all kinds of occasions – work, play, and school – without any intention of using them for athletic purposes,” Matt Powell, a sports industry analyst at market research firm NPD Group, said to CNN Money. “There’s a lengthy heritage around California lifestyle here. Most people who buy Vans don’t have a clue about how to skateboard.”
Vans, rooted in 1960s skate culture, also appeals to younger shoppers who are embracing vintage styles. For example, clothes with visible logos are back in style – and that’s something Vans sells a lot of. Vans’ global president, Doug Palladini, told Business Insider’s Dennis Green in 2017 that he sees a “multi-generational” appeal in Vans that makes it unique, adding that both parents and teens can wear it.
We visited a Vans store in New York City to see for ourselves why the brand is so successful right now. Here’s what it was like:
We visited the Vans store in Union Square in Manhattan.
The layout was very straightforward — men’s clothes were on the left, women’s on the right, and shoes in the back. The store was pretty busy considering it was the middle of the day mid-week.
The brand’s ties to skate culture were evident all over the store. Vintage-looking photos of skateboarders were all over the walls, and the “Off the Wall” slogan, rooted in skateboarding, was seen all over the store.
There was a wall of skateboards for sale from popular brands like Hockey, Krooked, and enjoi.
It also sold wheels, trucks, bearings, and other skate accessories, despite the likelihood that many of Vans’ customers don’t know how to skateboard.
Most of the styles at Vans were simple, like flannel shirts, logo tees, and hoodies. Everything had a very retro feel to it, and nothing was trying too hard to be trendy.
Men’s clothing wasn’t terribly different from women’s clothing. The styles were almost the same, just in different sizes. The muted colours and big logos added to the retro feel.
Shirts generally cost between $US20-$US30, and they were pretty high-quality. Hardly anything in the store was on sale.
There was a big wall of graphic tees with different variations of the Vans logo.
The store also had a regional display with products selected specifically for New York.
Shoes took up almost half of the store. Vans has five main styles of shoes — Era, Old Skool, Slip-On, Authentic, and Sk8-Hi — all of which were available among other styles.
There were a ton of different colours, patterns, and designs in each style, plus the option to customise the sneakers in any way. There were plenty of shoes for skaters and non-athletes alike.
Vans also does sneaker and apparel collaborations with brands like Marvel. In the past, Vans has collaborated with Star Wars, Supreme, and other hugely popular brands.
Most shoes cost between $US50 and $US75, which is cheaper than rivals like Adidas and Nike.
A ton of people were shopping for shoes. There were little kids, teens, and adults all browsing. The shoes were easily the most popular part of the store.
Near the register were other accessories like backpacks, hats, and sunglasses, most of which had the Vans logo on it.
Even though many retailers are currently struggling, Vans is taking advantage of the athleisure trend and a resurgence in retro styles to become hugely popular among teens.
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