Vans Ninth Annual Custom Culture Competition advocates for the arts and supports schools in need of funding

Updated competition format further cements Vans’ commitment to creative expression for our youth.

Photo: Courtesy of Vans

Updated competition format further cements Vans’ commitment to creative expression for our youth.


Vans Custom Culture
Photo: PRNewsfoto/Vans

Vans invites high school art students nationwide to participate in the ninth year of Vans Custom Culture, an art competition built to inspire creativity and show support for art programs in schools. Vans Custom Culture was created to empower high school students to embrace their originality through art and design, as well as encourage students to pursue a career in the arts. The 2018 competition refocuses that commitment through an updated format that increases financial support for the finalists and opens a pathway to amplify resources for even more creative futures.

“Vans has put almost $900,000 directly into art education programs for schools across the nation,” shares Megan Klempa, Custom Culture Program Manager. “As we began planning for 2018, the brand took a step back to evaluate how we could make more of an impact and ensure we were reaching schools who need the most support.”

Those discussions led to a new approach in which Vans will select 500 US public and private high schools that register to participate in the program. The qualifying schools who will be considered will include those that have had their arts programming cut.

“By completing an impact document along with the submission, Vans will be able to focus and target schools who haven’t been able to support an education that enables creativity,” Klempa expands.

Additionally, Vans will work with Kindah Khalidy, a California-based painter and textile designer to help reimagine Vans Custom Culture through her work. Khalidy embodies Vans’ “Off The Wall” ethos through her craftsmanship that’s unique, original and inventive.

“I’m thrilled to be part of the Vans family and support youth creativity,” said Khalidy. “I love that Vans is using Custom Culture to show the importance of creativity and self-expression.”

Through Khalidy’s partnership, Vans hopes to show participating students that a career in the arts is achievable.

Starting today and running through January 31 at 5PM PT, high school teachers and administrators can register their schools at the Vans Custom Culture website to enter the competition and have a chance to win the $75,000 towards their school’s art program. Vans has partnered with Yoobi who will provide boxes of basic art materials to the 500 participating schools. After customizing two pairs of blank Vans with two selected themes and submitting their impact document, Vans will select the top 50 participants. Then each school, their community and the public vote on the Vans Custom Culture website from April 23 – May 4 to determine the top five finalists. Vans and its partners, Americans for the Arts and Journeys, will celebrate the grand prize winner with a surprise, celebration event, gifting the school the winning funds and custom codes for the design team. The four runner-up schools will each be awarded $10,000 and a limited-edition Vans gift.

“The quality of the design, creativity, and effort that goes into each pair of shoes these students create never seizes to amaze me,” said Mitch Whitaker, General Manager of Vans North America. “We’re proud to bring back Vans Custom Culture in a new way and we’re excited to award even more funding to schools in need. Vans Custom Culture taps into the core of what Vans stands for: encouraging youth creativity and enabling self-expression through art.”

For information and registration, guidelines visit Vans Custom Culture at and watch this Vans Custom Culture 2018 teaser on YouTube.

About Vans

Vans®, a VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC) brand, is the original action sports footwear, apparel and accessories brand. Vans authentic collections are sold globally in 84 countries through a network of subsidiaries, distributors and international offices. Vans also owns and operates more than 600 retail locations around the world. The Vans brand promotes the action sports lifestyle, youth culture and creative self-expression through the support of athletes, musicians and artists and through progressive events and platforms such as the Vans Park Series, Vans Triple Crown of Surfing®, the Vans US Open of Surfing, Vans Pool Party, Vans Custom Culture, Vans Warped Tour®, and Vans’ cultural hub and international music venue, House of Vans.

Written by Manny King John


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