Highsnobiety

Let’s begin with a few prophetic words from Theodore Seuss Geisel’s final opus, Oh, The Places You Will Go: Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to great places. With the brains in your head and your feet in the new Vans AVE 2.0 skate sneakers, you’re ready to kick-push away, and away you are. Oh, the places you will go!

Alright, while Seuss never actually penned these colorful colloquialisms, my slight adaptation pays homage to the classic storybook as its core sentiment is more applicable than ever to the quintessential skate shoe brand that is Vans. Packing a few new variations of its most advanced skate silhouette to date, Vans arrived last week in Paris determined to leave its imprint on the marquee fashion festival. Hosting a trinity of skate-centered installations and pop-ups, the street-style fixture sought to add some West Coast spirit to the seminal Parisian exhibition.

To get the week rolling, Vans set up shop at the historic Place de Bastille, putting on the latest installment of its global “Commitment to Progression” series—an active and motile event that had made previous stops in LA, Shanghai, and Seoul. And unlike the average showcase you’d witness in the French capital around this time, Vans exchanged the runways and tailoring for crooked rails and kickflips—a bit of a switch-up from your typical fashion week festivities. Booked as the traveling feature’s final destination and as a celebration of the reimagined AVE 2.0 designs, the open skate jam encouraged every age, creed, and color of the eclectic Parisian skate scene to mingle with Vans’ world-class team of riders for an intense two-hour session. Culminating in a trick competition that saw Vans' collaborator and cult skateboarding icon Anthony Van Engelen hand out wads of cash to those best-in-show, the inaugural activation marked the beginning of a memorable three-day stretch.

Vans, Vans, Vans

For the second act, Vans stuck to its mantra of “always pushing,” reinterpreting the idea of your standard photo gallery opening through its distinctive and recognizable lens. Falling as closely in line with the traditional fashion week structure as an inherently rebellious brand like Vans can, the night invited a slew of notable names and friends of the skate shoe label to show out for the premiere of Atiba Jefferson: Skate Photography. As Vans’ Brand Curator and one of the sport’s most tenured constituents, Jefferson’s encompassing oeuvre not only recognizes storied skaters like Tony Hawk, Tyshawn Jones, and Elissa Steamer but also captures the impromptu and off-the-cuff nature synonymous with skateboarding. Showcasing the legendary documentarian’s illustrious archive spanning 25 years of skate history, the curated retrospective decorated the two-floor showroom, communicating the defining eras and enduring energy of the heralded action sport.

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Presented by Architecture c/o Virgil Abloh™️ with support from OTW by Vans, the most aspirational expression of the brand’s product design and experiences, the exclusive vernissage welcomed familiar faces like Van Engelen, skater Ishod Wair, designer Verdy, and musicians Dev Hynes and Aminé into the bustling Marais district of Paris for night two. And still, the ever-so-unconventional arbiter somehow found a way to best itself—and potentially, every other sumptuous fashion week rendezvous.

Vans / Nolan Zangas

Pulling together a grand finale beyond the realm of simple explanation, Vans took over the globally exalted Sacré Coeur de Montmartre for its concluding night in the city of love. Simultaneously celebrating International Go Skate Day and Fête de la Musique, the world’s dedicated day of music, the unrivaled evening seamlessly melded the worlds of sport, sound, and style into a solitary moment in time. Seriously, a simple description may not even suffice. Constructing a bespoke stage overlooking the sprawling French cityscape and a specialty skate bowl at the hill’s foot, the iconic purveyor of footwear pushed past the idea of your average afterparty to manifest an unrivaled experience, surpassing all other sought-after celebrity shindigs seen throughout the week.

The landmark event began with DJ sets courtesy of Venus X , Busy P, and Mel V, all perched looking out across the Parisian streets as they began to fill with flocks of interested bystanders. Esteemed guests like Pierce Abernathy, Anaa Saber, Bella Poarch, and Sam Richardson trickled in toward the start. Later on, the likes of Emily Ratajkowski, Omar Apollo, and Paloma Elsesser rounded out the scene as the sun began to set, delving deeper into dusk. Even Jonathan Anderson managed to stop by just hours before debuting his S/S 25 collection for Loewe the following day.

Vans, BFA / Astra Marina, BFA / Astra Marina

Following up the performance, the inimitable Kaytranda stepped on stage to an already packed crowd of excited onlookers ready to rave the night away. Mixing tracks off his latest project, Timeless, with classics from his deep discography, the turntable technician offered an astounding prelude to the night's final acts. I know Kaytranda and “prelude” don’t necessarily match in many other contexts, but stick with me here. To close out a week of subverting expectations, Vans called on OG Parisian electronic duo Justice to put an emphatic exclamation on its time in the city. Appearing in front of a crowd akin to something seen at your favorite music festival, the two long-time musicians produced an exhilarating aura that radiated throughout the alleys and avenues of the 18th arrondissement. Ending things out with a walk-off performance by Tatyana Jane, Vans solidified itself as the frontrunner of captivating fashion week functions.

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Never one to shy away from a challenge, Vans and its network of dynamic creatives made the most of their time abroad, proving that acting on your own accord is always the right move, even in foreign territory. In the (actual) words of the good “doctor” himself: On you will go. Off to the great places. Will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed!

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