Schools Get Creative with Crowdsourced Sneaker Competition

Published May-20-13

Sneakers customized by high school students go on sale in retail and online outlets.

Vans, United States

The Story:

Schools Get Creative with Crowdsourced Sneaker Competition The Vans Custom Culture Contest is a crowdsourcing competition for high school students in the USA. It encourages them to give vent to their creative passions by coming up with original designs for sneakers. The hosts are Vans, a US maker of sneakers and skateboarding shoes.

With shrinking budgets for education, art classes are usually at the head of the queue when it comes to makings cuts. The contest, which has been running since 2010 puts the spotlight on the importance of art in the school curriculum.

“In a time when schools are faced with shrinking budgets, art education is an often overlooked discipline,” said Doug Palladini, Vans Vice President of Marketing.

“Supporting creative expression through art and design is very important to all of us at Vans and the Custom Culture program should inspire young art students and draw attention to the importance of high school art programs nationwide.”

The design competition is open each year to the first 1,500 US-based public and private schools that register interest. They are then sent four pairs of Vans shoes as the raw material for their own creations.

The designs for each pair have to represent one of four themes: art, music, local flavor (such as community, city, or state), and action sports.

Students Put their Creativity to the Test

Then the fun begins as students get to work within their own groups to come up with dynamic and exciting designs. When they are happy with the work they submit pictures of the customized trainers to the contest’s website.

Once all the submissions have been received Vans staff narrow the field down to 50 semi-finalists and open the website up for public voting.

The top five submissions as voted on by the public are given an expenses paid trip to New York where students discuss their ideas with a panel of celebrity judges. The overall winning design is awarded $50,000 for their school art program. In addition, the runners up each receive $4,000 for their art programs

Winning Designs Go on Sale

In 2012 the winners were Rio Rancho High School from Rio Rancho, New Mexico. It was the second time they had tasted success in the contest as a team from the school also picked up first place in 2010.

Every one of their four designs went into production:

• The ‘Local Flavor’ design pair features an all-over skull detail and southwest
print inspired by New Mexico’s geography.

• The ‘Classic Slip-on’ features ink and skin artwork and is a tribute to tattoo

• The ‘Sk8-Hi’ is all about rock music and features a silhouette of a guitar

• The ‘106 Vulcanized’ has beach images and pays homage to the surfer

In March 2013, the designs created by Rio Rancho High School went on sale at Vans and Journeys stores as well as the Vans online shop. Journeys, a leading retail footwear company partners with Vans for the competition.

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