I was just looking at pics of the new grand opening of the Vans store in Covent Garden, London (thanks to CoolCrewBlog). I haven’t been to London in a couple of years, but I seem to remember the Vans store being a huge multi-level space on Carnaby Street. I guess they decided to move it to a cooler area. For anyone who hasn’t been sneaker shopping in London, you could spend days in Covent Garden.
When it comes to Vans in America, it’s definitely a different formula than in Europe. It’s all about the independent retailer here. The Vans stores that I have shopped in, from London to Paris, carry all the Vans lines- Skate, Syndicate, and Vault. The Vans stores I’ve seen in California and New Jersey basically look like outlets. They don’t stock Vault or Syndicate and the Classics and Skate selections / displays all seem very juvenile. The stores themselves are always at a certain level of disarray. Maybe that is their thing or maybe it’s endearing to the 12 year old who wants a distinctly different shopping experience than their mother, but it doesn’t service someone like you or me. It’s not an experience for the premium customer.
When it comes to the Independent Vans retailers in America, you may have noticed that you have Vault stores and you have Syndicate stores. The Classics and now Cali Collection may be stocked across the board, but you are either a Vault account or Syndicate account…. you can’t be both. In fact, when Vault was first introduced, skate shops started complaining about being excluded from premium product, so Vans created Syndicate for them. After all, skate shops are still Vans core. You can’t bite the hand that feeds you. There was a time a couple years ago that we said to Vans that Syndicate speaks more to the “sneakerhead”, than Vault does and even made a suggestion that we would like to switch accounts. Thankfully, the Vault product has evolved nicely over the past few years…..
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