Vans-Disney-Collaboration-Vintage-collection©-Sam-Mellish We love a good collaboration, and one thing we know is that Vans always get it right. How many Vans collabs can you think of? If you’re a fan of the waffle soled sneakers, then most probably a fair few of them in the list. There’s been Star Wars, Liberty and even the Beatles. Pretty impressive right? And that’s only three. One of the most loved worldwide has to be Disney. But where did it all begin? Steve Van Doren and three partners including his brother started the Van Doren Rubber Company out of a small factory space in Anaheim, California back in 1966. The company was way ahead of its time, and to cut out the middle man or salesman, they decided to set up a company that both made and sold shoes. In the early days, you could go to the factory store, order a pair of Vans and collect them later that day. Can you imagine that?

As a small family-owned start-up, the Van Doren Rubber Company was an open-minded business. With little or no advertising budget in the early days, they had to be creative with their partnerships and sponsorships.

If you know Anaheim (home of the Mighty Ducks) you’ll know it’s not only the home of Vans first site, but it’s the home of Disneyland California. It was a natural fit, Vans and Disney should collaborate, and who better than Disney to capture Vans playful spirit and family-friendly fantasia! Masterminded by the genius of Van Doren, Vans often aligned themselves with Disney and over the years, many other SoCal locals. Vans established strong links with Disney soon after opening and offered Pendleton CVO plimsolls for sale in Frontierland. They even produced black leather cold cure chukka boots for Disneyland employees. The crystallisation of their imaginative relationship came in the form of their early 90s collaboration. Mickey Mouse, the official mascot of Walt Disney first appeared on a pair of Vans in the early 90s as part of this collab. A repeat print of Mickey faces featured on two variations of the Vans Authentic and his name was phonetically spelled out in classic melody form on the friction ‘scene’ rubber midsole. Vans-Disney-Collaboration-Vintage-collection©-Sam-Mellish Legend has it these were exclusively available by Disney mail order catalogue and in the Disneyland gift shop. They came without a box in a clear plastic bag. The holy grail of original vintage Disney Vans is the Mickey and Minnie Mouse celebration of love. As such, Mickey and friends were immortalised in time and reinforced Disney and Vans as inseparable best friends. Vans-Disney-Collaboration-Vintage-collection©-Sam-Mellish Vans entered into a private label license agreement with Disney, offering full artistic license to create a Disney range using the Vans footwear template. With Walt Disney’s extensive character-driven and animated history, it was a perfect fit. The result was one of the most memorable collaborations in Vans near 50 year history. The first Disney Vans manifestations were ‘private label’ efforts, completely devoid of Vans branding with Disney exclusivity and blank heel tabs. Going to print at the time were iconic Disney characters including Donald Duck, 101 Dalmatians, Dopey, Pooh Bear and Tigger amongst others. Vans Disney Collaboration Vintage collection © Sam Mellish The template of choice was the Vans Authentic trainers and it captivated the imagination of women and kids everywhere during the early to mid-90s. Vans soon realised their missed opportunity and later featured official branding and Vans x Disney heel tabs. Also seeing silver screen print action was Dick Tracy, in conjunction with the early 90s release of the film. This resulted in the highly collectable Vans Authentics and high tops featuring the movie and a pop star. Look closely. Vans-Disney-Collaboration-Vintage-collection©-Sam-Mellish Vans-Disney-Collaboration-Vintage-collection©-Sam-Mellish The standard link between Vans and Madonna is the Madonna ‘lien to tail’ vertical skateboarding maneuver… however Madonna herself appears on a pair of Disney Vans in the guise of her Dick Tracy character Breathless Mahoney! The vault reissues made the fun-fuelled collab available to a new generation. Men’s sizes were introduced, as was the use of the Sk8Hi silhouette was also featured. Watch this space for more exciting Vans collaboration news in 2015. This post was written in collaboration with @pillowHeat