"Is that...? Could that be...?" Why yes, those are Star Command-approved Vans you're seeing. For years, the legendary sneaker brand has given us pop-culture merch we didn't have back in the day — be it with Star Wars, Hello Kitty, and assorted members of the Disney universe. Usually, its footwear interpretations of these much-loved franchises reach us in adulthood, once we have a disposable income and a healthy dose of nostalgia to work off of. Well, get ready, folks, because Vans' latest collaboration is hitting us right in the feels — and having us plan a Toy Story marathon this weekend.
On October 7, Vans welcomes Sheriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear, the Pizza Planet aliens, and all your other favourites into its universe and onto its sneakers. (Seriously: Hamm, Slinky Dog, Rex, Bo Peep, and even Sid’s mutant toys make appearances, too.) The idea for a Toy Story-themed collection came about when Vans learned of the film's 20th anniversary, celebrated last year.
"We all grew up watching [the movie] and are still huge Pixar fans today," Dabney Lee, Vans' senior director of global footwear merchandising, told Refinery29. "We thought it would be a great way to continue the magic of this longstanding partnership."
Disney's relationship with Vans spans a few decades, back to when the California-based footwear company designed special shoes for Disney cast members and Disneyland's gift stores. Creatively, though, the two got back together more recently: first in 2013 for a limited-edition Vault by Vans collection that brought back the exclusive prints from those theme-park-exclusive styles and the most recent "Young at Heart" collection, which saw Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, and Winnie the Pooh take over our classic Slip-Ons and Authentics.
To merge the worlds of Toy Story and Vans, the creative team looked to both iconic scenes from the first movie for pattern ideas as well as to the lead characters — namely, Woody and Buzz Lightyear — in order to translate the essence of the films onto shoes in a less obvious way. There are allover prints bringing back all of our favourite characters that create a very direct tribute to the franchise, too.
But there are more subtle, yet salient, touches in the design, like using the wallpaper patterns of Andy's childhood bedroom or even having the name "Andy" scribbled on the bottom of one waffle sole per pair. What's more, even that detail follows the narrative of the movie series:
"When Andy gets Woody for the first time as a young boy, he misspells his name with a backwards 'N,'" Lee recalls, "but by the time he gets Buzz, he's able to write out his name [correctly] — so, our graphics on each Woody and Buzz shoe reflect that progression." Bonus: The Buzz Lightyear Sk8-Hi glows in the dark.
Ahead, get a first look at the seriously nostalgia-filled pieces in Vans x Toy Story (UK release date TBC).