Steve Van Doren is a gentleman. I remember him coming to town when the Vans store first opened on Carnaby Street where he welcomed everybody like a kind Uncle. Even with the exponential growth of the brand Vans retains strong roots and Steve knows how important this is. It's great that he is in the driving seat as far as what they support especially when it culminates in gifts to our community like the House Of Vans. He took time out of his busy schedule to visit us and we caught up with him in this quick interview after the Legends Meet & Greet at our Covent Garden store...
It must have been a proud moment seeing the House Of Vans space just open in London, how did it feel?
It felt great because four years ago we did the one in Brooklyn. We had Public Enemy playing and we had them be the feature for this. I was amazed at the beauty of this location, the Brooklyn one was just a big empty warehouse fixed up really nice. This one is tunnels, five different tunnels made for skateboarding, art, music. It's got personality, it's a really nice thing to have the Vans name on it, my family name on it, it's awesome!
Do you remember your first impressions of the space?
Well I'd never seen it before so I walked in and I was just awed by it. I was thinking of tunnels and these things are beautiful but they did a lot of other really nice things. They made it look like our soles with the diamond design that's used on the floor, there are a lot of things. The circular stairways which go up to the second level are the waffle sole you see on the bottom of our shoes. The bowl is sensational, watching Christian (Hosoi) ride it yesterday and Tony (Alva), they did an absolutely great job. There's a bar built in there, it's going to be free for everybody, it's really really nice.
How is it being back in London?
It's good, everybody says it always rains here, I've been here three days, no rain. Gorgeous days the first two days we were here. We went on a boat ride out on the river Thames and we took the whole crew. We had guys like Geoff Rowley, of course you saw Anthony Van Engelen today, Curren Caples as well as Alva and Hosoi and the whole European team. There is a really nice camaraderie as well with the people who are heads of VF and Vans who came over from all over Europe and customers, it was great.
You must have a lot of fun with the company, do you feel like you have the dream job?
I definitely have the dream job, the ambassador of fun. Let me give you the last sixty days. Vans Warp tour year twenty, so I've been doing that for twenty years we wrapped that up last Sunday. The Vans US open of surfing, also skateboarding and BMX. We have a big quarter of a million dollar bowl we built on the sand, it was rewarding to see that, they named that the Van Doren Invitational. To come over to House Of Vans London and open that up, I don't think anybody had a better last sixty days than me.
Vans have always been very active with events, competitions, tours and providing new spaces. How important do you feel these things are?
I think it really is important because that's our roots and it shows that we give back. A lot of companies, they support riders but I think by us doing events it shows the industry that we really care. We put our money where our mouth is, we build skateparks. Huntington Beach, we have a 2.8 million dollar skatepark out there, we are building one in Boston early next year. Besides that we just did an event up in Vancouver at the Hastings bowl, Bondi, House of Vans Brooklyn, House of Vans here. There are a lot of things and everything has to do with our roots which is skateboarding. It's very very important.
What can we expect to see from Vans this coming year?
For sure we are going to see how we can activate this House of Vans space in London. We will have skateboarding for kids which is going to be free after an initial thing where they make a donation to one of the causes that they have here. There will be music events that are at the site all the time. Over in the States we are getting ready to wrap up our season of events. We will be going into some snowboarding events when the snow time comes up there. It will be the same old same old which is a lot of things that happen with Vans around the world. They are doing things over in China, South America as well as the United States and Europe. Europe has some really good events which are coming up, I'm hoping we get back to Downtown Showdown next year because I have loved that event for the last five years.
We would like to again thank Steve Van Doren for visiting us and taking time out to answer these questions. Make sure you pay House Of Vans a visit. We have had new arrivals from Vans and you can shop for them HERE
Photography - Maksim Kalanep
Interview - Jacob Sawyer