Art students from Parker High School in Parker, S.D., were announced as the grand prize winners of the 2017 Vans Custom Culture contest on Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Triumphing over the 3,000 entrants, the teens submitted their classroom-customized kicks for the eighth annual contest and won $50,000 toward the school’s arts education program — and bragging rights.
“Vans is proud to be a driving force for students to express their creativity through art and design,” said Doug Palladini, Vans global brand president. “We’re honored that Vans Custom Culture has become a foundational platform of our brand that enables high school students to become the next generation of creative individuals.”
The Parker High School students presented a collection of sneakers customized from classic Vans silhouettes. Some of the inspiration in the designs reflects their community — including a rustic lace-up boot, roller skates and a pair of slip-ons emblazoned with a portrait of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
Among the other honorees, Journeys awarded Friendswood High School of Friendswood, Texas, with $15,000 for its art program.
Vans and its program partners, including Journeys, Laguna College of Art + Design (LCAD), Americans for the Arts, Blick Art Materials, awarded the remaining finalists — Fontainebleau High School, Friendswood High School, Ridley High School and Will C. Woods High School — with $4,000 each.
Additionally, LCAD extended scholarship opportunities to the student finalists.
The final event was held in L.A.’s downtown arts district at the H.D. Buttercup Loft. Guests enjoyed a performance by Grammy winner Daya, who also served as one of the competition’s judges.
The competition originated eight years ago from a Vans sales representative who provided high school students in Boulder, Colo., with plain white leftover Vans and a challenge — redesign the sneakers and showcase them in a fashion show, then called Fresh 23.
Now the competition includes entrants across the country.