today we continue our summer profile on vans customs, & the natural progression from custom colourways, through to custom prints is the undercurrent of the vans printed 'scene'. well it was not quite chronologically accurate how we 'set the scene' in our print profile, as the scene art in fact preceded the canvas art. to repeat the story, one steve van doren witnessed fellow high school students drawing on the white midsoles of their deck shoes in checkerboard fashion during class. steve whereby reported this back to senior van dorens at the factory & henceforth they began with printed scenes, before the idea surfaced above the foxing stripe to manifest in the upper(s) consciousness.
the evolution of the printed scene, aka foxing/friction tape/side wall, & later the printed canvas, equipped vans with the necessary arsenal to take the simple circular vamp oxford deck shoe to the high water mark it has reached today. as a 1970's concept however the printed scene was groundbreaking & light years ahead of its time & one which has since been imitated but never quite capitalised upon. in recent years even high end contemporary footwear manufacturers have experimented with midsole texture & mixed materials however printed midsoles remain somewhat overlooked.
since stateside departure of production circa 1995, vans have flirted with the re-hash of printed scenes over the years including the recent RAD reissues however the multiplicity of scene by scene at their disposal remains still an untapped resource, & thus remain scene & not herd.... so to speak.
in the early days of scene evolution the imagination inspired only simple manifestations in the way of checkerboard, & other simple text & abstractions. paul van doren would entertain colouring competitions inviting the kids to suggest their own design alternatives & after they saw multiple rainbow entries, or hearts suggestions then these ideas would soon materialise on rubber. nothing can match the undiluted stream of consciousness of the mind of youth except maybe paul van dorens genius, & as such the designs became more & more elaborate as we entered the decade of (in)xs that was the 80's.
the boom of bmx & skate in 80's saw all manner of landsacpe, portrait, pattern & sketch scenes grip the pedals at the starting gate & grind across the coping of vert & pool. at the crest of the high & beautiful wave that vans was riding you could see scenes commisioned for independent events, corporate companies & commercial brands.
in addition to customising your very own colour/print combinations on most models throughout the 80's, for an additional $1 you could pick the scene of your choice to compliment or contrast those flavours. the early scenes like checkerboard were accompanied only by TM markings, however soon every scene was designated a reference whereby on the mail order catalog you could tailor your midsole with anything from unicorns or the confedarate flag to license plates or logos.
at the peak of custom culture the scene featured the infamous turtle-necked frenchman complete with beret, goatee & clap board. this guy deserves a clap because when he announces to 'action' his favourite scene, he brings out the connoisseur in us all.
entering the 90's the scene was used less as a custom option & instead sparingly on stock option collabs & releases like the disney collection or the odd pirate skull sighting. the charming frenchman was nowhere to be seen however in favour of a boring 2 letter reference however sometimes conveniently a date.
we will henceforth endeavour to bring to a wider audience what was once so prominent & has since gone under the RADar & as such make a lost art available again for purchase. there is something intangible about the integrity of the printed scene of original made in usa vans. to say it has to be scene to be believed is an understatement. to appreciate this lost art it has to be held, felt, worn, & thrashed to be truly appreciated. what's my scene? vans scene!