It only takes one look around Kyle Ng’s space to know that he’s a fan of Vans sneakers. The designer and member of the Brain Dead collective has a small collection of destroyed Authentics piled under his sofa and has no trouble locating several more well-worn pairs when asked what his favorite styles are. Kyle might be the quintessential face of Vans Classics: LA-area, skateboard in hand, punk and hardcore vinyl in crates, but over the past few years, the footwear brand has stepped way outside that box, becoming a sneaker favorite of musicians, artists, skaters and even connoisseurs of high fashion. Brain Dead’s Sk8-Hi collaboration with Dover Street Market dropped earlier this year, and is emblematic of Vans’ transition outside of its traditional norms. A riff on the instantly recognizable checkerboard pattern sold exclusively at Rei Kawakubo’s DSM, Kyle’s rendition was tonal, with a rubberized checkerboard and debossed midsole. And he hasn’t stopped there: for summer 2017 Brain Dead will drop an Era and an Old Skool, complete with more obscure music references and printed graphics.
Keen to learn more about the brand’s increasing ubiquity across creative circles worldwide, HYPEBEAST sat down with Vans collaborators from a variety of backgrounds to hear about their own personal experiences with the sneakers and what their respective design processes were like. Watch our first piece with Brain Dead above, grab the new Brain Dead x Vans Vault lineup on June 24, and stay tuned for further interviews in the coming weeks.