First Look: Vans Just Linked with Fashion's Favorite Artist on Some Very Sick Sneakers

“When we were approached about this collaboration, it felt very nostalgic,” Ruby told GQ. “As a 10-year-old, getting a pair of Vans was like your very first thing. Wearing Vans to the school I was going to was really freaky.” That long history made this project with OTW by Vans a natural fit. “We had considered doing other collabs, but it never really felt right,” he said. “The Vans team opened up a lot of possibilities from an industrial standpoint, whether making a molded shoe or revisiting classics. I really appreciated the fact that we could open up the possibilities and have larger runs and bigger distribution—but also that it had some sort of autobiography for me.”

Jack Bool

Fans of Ruby’s work will instantly recognize his style in the shoes: the bright, all-encompassing colors of the Clash the Wall sneakers are clearly inspired by Ruby’s fluorescent monolith sculpture “SPECTER,” the imposing object he constructed in the middle of the California desert as part of Desert X. It’s a bold redesign for a shoe that’s instantly recognizable—and Ruby says that the next installments in this ongoing collaboration are set to go even further. “The future releases are really advanced,” he says, adding that the sneakers on the horizon are “pushing the limits of what a shoe can be.”

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Jack Bool

To celebrate the launch of this collab, Ruby and OTW by Vans have come together to erect a state-of-the-art “skateable installation” that feels like a cross between a skate park and a full-blown galley piece. Designed by Ruby in conjunction with Playlab, Inc., the massive, neon-hued structure is another nod to “SPECTER,” paying homage to its intense vibrancy and sense of staggering imposition. “I’ve always thought about it, but I’ve never made a sculpture strictly for skating,” Ruby says. “Obviously it had to be utilitarian, it had to be skateable—but when you stand back from it, it just looks like this optic, bright-yellow cube.” The radical skate park opens to the public tomorrow in downtown Los Angeles.

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