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From Porky’s to the Kennedy family, Massachusetts-based Concepts finds inspiration in some rather unexpected places. The cult store looks to a notorious, mostly-forgotten chapter of Boston’s history for its latest project, a partnership with Vans Syndicate on a new iteration of the Sk8-Hi. Paying homage to an area known as the “Combat Zone,” the Concepts x Vans Syndicate Sk8-Hi draws upon the debauchery and rebelliousness of a locale once infamous for violence, crime and prostitution. Made from premium pig suede, the sneakers feature laser-etched leather quarter panels, pink satin linings and crystal-clear waffle treads with checkerboard patterns. Each pair also comes finished with a Combat Zone/Vans Syndicate-specific graphic package complete with dust bags and a satin-lined slider box, resulting in a delightfully decadent take on a classic skateboarding silhouette.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with Concepts’ Deon Point on the origins of the project, the “Combat Zone,” and his thoughts on the collaborative footwear scene. Read on for the interview in its entirety, and stay tuned for the Concepts x Vans Syndicate “Combat Zone” Sk8-Hi to release on March 30.
Can you introduce yourself and your role at Concepts?
My name is Deon and I handle all the buying duties for Concepts. I do my best to manage Spungie as well.
How did the project develop?
We’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for Vans, and what the Syndicate line represents.
In a world littered with footwear collaborations, what things did you want to avoid?
We try to approach each collaboration differently. There are instances where we play to a brand’s strengths and other times, their weaknesses. Sometimes we focus on the background story to bring to life through the shoes, other times the focus is on materials and details. For the most part, we try to avoid giving a fuck, and really focus on what we want to say as a brand.
What value do footwear collaborations still have?
Footwear collaborations will always have value. When they are done right.
The concept behind the shoe is quite complex, how was this conceived?
We wanted to pay homage to an era that represents the rebellious nature that exists within both brands. The Combat Zone was a notorious part of Boston’s history that has been swept under the rug for the most part, due to the violence, crime and prostitution that went on.
Now when it came to the application, how were you able to parlay the concept into a footwear design?
Initially we had very little to work from. All of the images from the Combat Zone era we found while researching were black and white and didn’t provide much direction. Instead, we chose to base our ideas off of the actual clubs in the Combat Zone as opposed to the attire worn during that time. All of the elements and details on the shoe are inspired by the architecture, decor, and the interiors found in those clubs.
What are your favorite details about the shoe?
Our Concepts logo.
Any last words?
We would like to thank the Vans Syndicate Team, Trevor, Neal, Desiree, Rian. Also, make sure to follow @spungiesdoorag on Instagram.
“The Concepts x Vans Syndicate Sk8-Hi draws upon the debauchery and rebelliousness of a locale once infamous for violence, crime and prostitution.”