Interview: Murakami x Vans Vault
When you walk into the studio of Takashi Murakami on the outskirts of Tokyo, there is a meticulously arranged lineup of shoes that belong to the staff in the building. As is customary, visitors remove their shoes and wear a pair of sandals provided for them. To the left of the entryway, you are struck by a dozen or so pairs of classic, eggshell white Vans Slip-Ons. The owner of these is obvious: Murakami has a very particular taste.
Murakami has long been the pioneer of fine art’s relationship with commercial and fashion work, and on June 27, Vault by Vans and Murakami will release a special collection of Slip-Ons for adults and kids. The collection will be celebrated with a special launch in Paris during men's fashion week, a city home to one of Murakami’s long-standing representing galleries, Galerie Perrotin. We spoke to Vans Footwear Designer, Taka Hayashi, on the scale of the collaboration, skull and flowers, and bringing Murakami into the Vans family.
Juxtapoz: Tell us a little bit about your relationship with Murakami's art? Where have you seen it, what do you like about it, and what are some memorable experiences you have had with it?
Taka Hayashi: I first saw Murakami’s art in person years ago in San Francisco while at SFMOMA. I found his canvas painting titled Super Nova very compelling and I was drawn to it. Its large scale, vibrant colors and interesting illustrations were very intriguing and inspiring.
We all know that Murakami is an iconic artist, world famous. How did you get word that Murakami likes to wear white Slip-On Vans all the time?
Stephen Mills, Vice President of Global Design & Merchandising at Vans, introduced the design team to Takashi about a year ago here at the US headquarters. Since the beginning, Takashi has been excited to collaborate with the brand and in his first meeting with the team, he revealed that his favorite sneakers are Vans Slip-Ons.
Were there specific ideas and icons that you and Murakami wanted to explore with the shoe collection?
Takashi was very directional in the creation of the Vans x Murakami collaboration; he wanted to bring his coveted smiling flower and skull artwork to his favorite Vans silhouette. The final product is something both parties are proud to present.
Vans has a long history of working with artists—Robert Williams in the past and Zio Ziegler recently, but what does Takashi bring to Vans? How special is this project for you guys, and what sort of release will it see?
Working with Takashi on this project was very special for us; his world-renowned, anime-inspired Superflat aesthetic brings a unique artistic perspective to our iconic Classic Slip-On. Every artist Vans works with brings something special to the table, and each one makes their own distinctive mark in Vans' history of design.
The Vans x Murakami collaboration will feature limited edition Slip-Ons, apparel and skateboard decks. June 27, 2015 is the global release date and we will feature the collection in high-end boutiques including Opening Ceremony, Dover Street Market and The Vans DQM General.
For more information about Vault by Vans, visit vans.com/vault