New Mexico’s Rio Rancho High School came first in Vans’ Custom Culture event, winning the $50,000 grand prize on June 10. Held at New York’s Industria Superstudio, the fifth-annual art and design competition challenged 2,000 schools to design four pairs of Vans based on an array of themes: art, music, action sports and local flavor. “Vans believes that art is not just a creative outlet, but also a critical component for shaping student success in school and in the workforce,” said Kevin Bailey, president of VF Action Sports and Vans. “The Custom Culture competition provides an outlet for students to express their creativity, while also helping to fill a void for their school and their classmates.”
A panel of judges, including music duo MKTO, skateboarder Steve Caballero and fashion label Eley Kishimoto, scored the five finalists, with the four runners-up each awarded $4,000 to go toward maintaining their school’s art programs.
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“We saw a negative trend in today’s education system, in which art and music programs were being hit with budget cuts left and right,” said Sarah Crockett, VP of global consumer marketing at Vans. “We realize that many of today’s youth gain inspiration for their future in high school and through the experiences they encounter there.”
Rio Rancho High School’s winning designs featured slip-on styles printed with surrealistic illustrations and ikat patterns, inspired by the local flavor of New Mexico. The designs will be produced and sold in select Vans and Journeys retail stores, as well as online.
Since its launch in 2010, Vans’ Custom Culture event has donated more than $375,000 to schools nationwide.