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Vans Sneakers Travel Back In Time With Checkered Design

Photo by Kent Larsson

Photo by Kent Larsson
How do you lure adults back to the fashion brands of their youth? Vans, the Cypress, California-based sneaker maker long beloved by surfers and skaters, has a plan: Bring back an older form of cool. "In 1966, when Vans started, midcentury architects and designers were a real source of inspiration to Southern California, and to Vans," says Tom Cooke, director of footwear. With that in mind, he developed three new shoes with KnollTextiles's Cross Stitch pattern, a wool-blend upholstery textile that debuted in 2006 but was inspired by 1960s California modernism. (The windowpane motif echoes the checkerboard pattern that fueled Vans's boom in the early '80s.) These new shoes may never ride a skateboard, but Cooke expects to inspire some longing among those who, he says, "grew up skating, but now are more about the general lifestyle of art, music, fashion, and design." ($100,

A version of this article appeared in the November 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.