Vans and Columbus, Ohio-based retailer Sole Classics reunite this summer to revisit their first-ever collaborative shoe, the “Carmen.” Originally released in May 2013, the Sole Classics “Carmen” was an Era LX from the California footwear label’s Vault by Vans division, with a unique design inspired by the story of Ohio high school football player Jack Henderson and his golden-brown cleats.
As the story goes, after a game-winning, 99 yard play in October 1963 — the longest run from scrimmage in Ohio high school football history — Jack Henderson ran right out of the stadium, and was never seen or heard from again. A month later, a pair of golden brown cleats was found on the bank of Lake Eerie in Cleveland, Ohio, nearly 250 miles away. Legend has it that these were Henderson’s and the color came from the mileage he put on them running north through the entire state. In 1996, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles redesigned their license plates with colors unofficially inspired by Henderson’s legacy.
In 2013, Sole Classics owner Dionte Johnson translated Henderson’s golden-cleat story and the design of the 1996 Ohio plates on a pair of Vault by Vans Era LX, featuring an ambitious, first-of-its-kind color fade treatment. However, two weeks before the sneakers were set to ship, Vans and Sole Classics received word that 86 out of a planned 200 pairs did not meet quality control standards. Due to the unique process used to create the golden fade, a faint purple thumbprint was left on nearly half of the shoes. Vans and Sole Classics agreed to release the other 114 pairs on schedule and they sold out in minutes. Fast forward to 2021, and the remaining 86 pairs of “Carmens” are getting their due.
To recreate his unique vision, Dionte Johnson commissioned two long-time Sole Classics employees, local designers Sunday Pizza and Dan Dover of Pretty Good Co., to fully hand-dye and finish 86 pairs of classic white Vans Authentics right in Columbus, Ohio. The two creatives combined their talents to bring the “Carmen” vision to life using a mix of hand-dying, custom leatherwork, and Plasti-Dip rubber coating. As with the original release, the golden fade represents Jack Henderson’s legendary journey, the hand-dyed navy laces mimic the 1996 Ohio license plate (and the navy football uniforms from the 1963 season), while the orange Vans tab references the Ohio plate sticker. The red sole completes the design, representing the Ohio state slogan; “The Heart of it All.”
Each pair of hand-crafted Sole Classics x Vans Authentic “Carmen” comes with a certificate of authenticity and will be released July 17, 2021 exclusively through Sole Classics and soleclassics.com.
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