Vault by Vans and Wacko Maria have transformed their shared passion for music into a footwear collaboration covered in a pattern featuring a motif of vinyl records. Established in 2005, Wacko Maria is a Japanese label known for its high-quality materials and original creations that are rooted in music, film and art. Driven by the philosophy that “music is the trigger of imaginations,” Wacko Maria has worked with Vans to create an OG Authentic LX and a limited 7-inch vinyl record.
The collection is comprised of three colorways that Atsuhiko Mori, one of Wacko Maria’s founders, says are “inspired by the colors of record labels in the ’60s and ’70s.” Wacko Maria’s flagship store, Paradise Tokyo is the embodiment of this, housing an extensive collection of records, turntables and other objects central to the brand’s artistic vision. To learn more about the Vault by Vans x Wacko Maria collaboration, HYPEBEAST spoke with Mori about style inspirations and what he’s been listening to.
HYPEBEAST: How would you describe the overall vibe of the Wacko Maria brand?
Atsuhiko Mori: A chic store, sensational music, trendy clothes, and a dramatic scene that looks like it came straight out of a movie… I think that’s the Wacko Maria vibe.
How does music help Wacko Maria cultivate that vibe?
We create fashion designs that go well with groovy music, stunning art, or engaging movies. For us, music is essential to enjoying our daily lives. Listening to music makes me happy. It makes me feel like I’ve traveled to different worlds and it’s intriguing. I get excited when I discover unique and new music.
Tell us about Paradise Tokyo. Why is there a music space in the store?
Paradise is like a scene from a captivating movie, a dream, a story told by an ancestor or a good day in our lives. I think places that are filled with such emotions are what we call Paradise. In other words, the pursuit of achieving one’s hopes and dreams is Paradise.
The shop was designed with the basis of incorporating the vintage sound systems of Western Electric, Lansing, RCA, and ALTEC in mind. I also used some equipment from the Rock Steady Bar, which I ran in the past. They look really cool and sound amazing too. I want the staff who work here every day and customers who come to the store to enjoy wonderful music. I want to host lots of fun in-store events too. After work, it will be nice to hang out with the staff while listening to vinyl records and partying.
Do you think music, clothes, and fashion have anything in common?
I believe trendy music, clothes, and sneakers make our lives happier.
Tell us about your personal relationship with Vans.
I think I wear them almost every day. I love it. It goes well with a suit as well as a Hawaiian shirt and short pants.
What kind of music was the Wacko Maria team listening to while working on this Vans collaboration?
The team is made up of members from various age groups, so they all listen to their own favorite music, but the design team was listening to garage rock. I was listening to “Lorna,” which has been used in promotional movies, hundreds of times. It still sounds awesome.
How does designing sneakers differ from your approach to designing clothing?
I just make whatever feels stylish, so it’s basically the same whether it’s clothes or sneakers.
Did any elements from your Rock Steady Bar influence your Vans design?
Rock Steady Bar opened in 1999 and I was very picky about the sound system for the vinyl records, and not only served alcohol but also coffee. My experience with Rock Steady has become a strong foundation that has evolved into Paradise Tokyo. I believe my experience with that has an influence on everything I have done so far, including the design of these sneakers.
How did Wacko Maria create the vinyl record art used in the shoe’s pattern?
Originally, we had a second-hand T-shirt that was printed with vinyl record designs all over. So, we created a Wacko Maria original design with vinyl record graphics about 10 years ago. I figured the checkered flag label vinyl record design would go perfectly on Vans sneakers.
What is the ideal setting you imagine fans will wear your Vans sneakers in?
EVERY DAY, EVERYWHERE!
What kind of music will you be listening to this spring and summer?
For groovy music, I listen to many music genres, but I’ll have to say I’m still big on garage music.
This collaborative release is the first of two special product drops that are happening this season. Interested fans can now shop the first drop from Vault by Vans x Wacko Maria at the brand’s website.