If you were to pick the ideal collaboration partner for a French luxury fashion brand, it’s probably not going to be a footwear company with a cult following of skateboarders and California dreamers. But the KENZO x Vans collection proves it’s never too late to defy everyone’s expectations of what your brand should be.
What could have been a risky move for both brands has become one of the most talked-about releases of the summer. While we wouldn’t call this collection budget-friendly, if you’re looking to treat yourself or just want to feast your eyes on some beautiful patterns, you won’t be disappointed.
KENZO x Vans: When fashion giants collide
When Kenzo Takada, a Japanese designer living in Paris, started the luxury brand KENZO in 1970, it’s hard to imagine he envisioned a future collaboration with Vans, a brand that caters to Cali-cool surfers, skaters, and fashion gals who pair sneakers with dresses. Though following very different paths, both brands saw their stars rise in the ’90s. That’s when LVMH purchased KENZO and Vans became the shoe brand of choice for teenagers everywhere.
While KENZO is no stranger to collaborations, this collection marks the first since Portuguese designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista took over as creative director in July 2019. To come up with the perfect patterns that strike the delicate balance of perfectly chic and casual, the team, led by Baptista, took a deep dive into KENZO’s archives, emerging with three vibrant floral prints that are sure to capture anyone’s attention.
The sole of fashion
The heart (and dare we say sole?) of this collection comes from Vans’ classic Sk8-Hi ($265) and Old Skool ($240) shoes. Both styles have been revived in a way we’ve never seen before. Each is available in three floral patterns. Never overlooking any detail, the soles are a color that perfectly complements the print of your choosing, available in red, yellow, and a mossy green.
And let’s all take a minute to thank the shoe gods for bringing us designer kicks that don’t destroy our feet. KENZO style with classic Vans comfort is the stuff of designer footwear dreams.
KENZO x Vans: Top picks
With 46 ready-to-wear clothing and accessory companion pieces that includes hoodies, T-shirts, hats, dresses, and even bags, there’s something for everyone in the line-up. If you want to take a subtle approach to the collection’s signature look, try the floral bandana scarf ($130). Available in a red or black base, it’s the perfect chic accessory, whether you wear it as a stylish face covering to protect yourself and others, or in a more traditional way.
Keep the sun off your face while you put a smile on everyone else’s with this fun floral baseball cap ($155). Whether you’re going for a jog to heading to the grocery store, you won’t have to think too hard about what else you’re wearing when you slip on this hat. We promise, it’ll still look great.
School may be out forever for most of us, but you may still have room in your closet for this standout backpack ($375). We don’t typically associate backpacks with high fashion, but this piece manages to be just as stylish as it is functional, with plenty of room for your laptop, a small grocery haul, and even a change of clothes.
Are you more of a minimalist? Then you’ll love the A4 ‘Tulipes’ clutch ($195). The price point is more accessible and it has room for just the essentials. You can easily carry your phone, credit cards and some cash, lip product, sunglasses in this bag. But it’s not so large that you’re tempted to bring your entire beauty regimen with you. And that red zipper detail? Kinda makes your heart flutter in a way a certain famous red-bottomed shoe does.
If you love this collection and have designer taste without the budget to match, you may still be in luck. The most affordable item in this launch is an iPhone case, currently available for the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. For $60, you’ll be able to enjoy the look in the package you can take with you anywhere without having to worry about what else you have on.
A collection for our time
It’s hard to look at this collection full of bright colors and fun prints without thinking it’s the perfect antidote to these often dark and uncertain times. While facing the reality that our new normal means wearing masks and keeping six feet apart from our friends as if they were strangers, finding ways to express joy and a feeling of hopefulness through what we wear is exactly why fashion is so powerful. Like the flowers in these lively prints, we’re all experiencing a period of growth and change. We’ll get through this by finding beauty where we can and realizing life will go on, even if it’s never quite the same.
The KENZO x Vans collection is now available online and in select stores.