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House of Vans Pop-Up Festival Transforms Downtown Joburg

The recent House of Vans pop-up experience in downtown Joburg brought the local skating, design and music communities together.

Andile Buka

House of Vans events are well known around the world for their colourful celebrations of street culture, and heady interdisciplinary mashups of art, food, music and design. And true to form, the brand’s most recent popup – in downtown Johannesburg – took the city by storm. 

For three days the festival’s art installations, exhibitions, skating demonstrations, musical performances and design stands restored life to the tin buildings at 1 Fox in a manner reminiscent of how these sheds must have pulsed with life during the gold rush itself. The coolest kids were in town for a weekend of fun. 

The event, put together by agency The Bread (with whom House and Leisure collaborated with for our Joburg Issue in 2018) took its design and decor cues from the offbeat charm of California’s supercool Venice Beach.

House of Vans | House and Leisure

This iconic skateboarding spot is also known for its boardwalk of design shops, buskers and street art murals, and 1 Fox was accordingly transformed into a pastel-infused village – complete with a millennial-pink lifeguard shack, a lounge celebrating the best in local furniture design, a traders’ village where the best in local skating products found a home, and a market. 

‘Venice Beach was at the centre of California skateboarding culture as it developed in its early days,’ says Carl Ashcroft, a creative at The Bread.

House of Vans | House and Leisure

‘The combination of art, skate and culture that manifests in the area is inherently inspirational for a brand such as Vans, and in many ways it felt like bringing the brand home.’

A major highlight of the event for House and Leisure was a retrospective exhibition of the country’s skating history, which highlighted South Africa’s little-known skateboarding heritage and the evolution of the skating-dedicated Session magazine over the years.

House of Vans | House and Leisure

‘For this exhibition we partnered with Session skateboarding magazine, who were founded in Johannesburg in 2002,’ says Vans South Africa marketing manager, Warren Talbot.

‘They have been a pillar of the SA skateboarding scene and the exhibition wall paid homage to all the skaters and photographers that have been a part of the local scene as it has gone through its ups and downs over the years.’

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He adds, ‘When the brand shows up in a city for House of Vans it’s imperative that we make sure that we support the local communities within that local scene – which is why we worked with other brilliant creatives. These artists have come up in the local scene and it makes sense for us to give them a platform to express themselves.’ 

  House of Vans | House and Leisure

In between all of the design bits and pieces, which included stores by the likes of Dead, Baseline, Khaya Records, Sk8 Shades, Sealand and Roastin’ Records, festival-goers were lining up for (totally free) tattoos by Palm Black, and they could get their fades freshened up by Legends Barbershop too. 

Event host LootLove summed up the weekend: ‘House of Vans Johannesburg definitely woke up the game. The event put the brand in a beautiful space in terms of urban culture, and I don’t think I’ve experienced anything like this in Joburg. The youth were given an experience they will never forget. Vans did a brilliant job of celebrating local and international acts, while exposing and introducing the kids to different genres, artists and bands. The youth are always looking for something new and Vans gave them that.’ 

Make sure you keep up to date with Vans on social media to ensure you’re first to hear about their exciting news on the future of House of Vans, as well as the rest of their electrifying events. 

ALSO READ: Five Joburg Creatives Each Design A Joburg-Inspired Space

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