3 Mar 2014

Vans launches documentary series

Vans has launched a documentary series called 'Living Off The Wall', haven’t seen it? That’s because nothing about this series is aimed at you. 

A series dedicated to the shoe and clothing brand's fans, 'Living Off The Wall' aims to celebrate the people who buy its products by celebrating the lives they lead. This is for the punks doing backyard shows, the upstarts living for their love of music or their love of creatvity, it's for the skaters, the BMX riders, the snowboarders and the artists.  

There are currently four series of films: one series follows the East Los Angeles punk scene, one follows young upstarts following their creative dreams, and others look at skaters in Russia and China. 

“Off the wall is state of mind. Thinking differently. Embracing creative self-expression.”  The aim is to inspire “boardriders, musicians, artists and anyone for whom creativity matters as they inspire us and every product we make.”

“Living Off The Wall was built to progress that dedication, enlisting some of our favourite story-tellers to share people, places and things that best illustrate such a commitment to originality. Using words, images and motion pictures, Living Off The Wall is a testament to the power of our global imagination, as explored through a surfboard, a microphone, a paintbrush and all tools of the creative trade. Watch and be entertained. Explore and interact. But also take Living Off The Wall and make it your own.” 

Vans, a US shoe and clothing line, is inviting fans to get involved by tagging their content to be featured on the site. The films are featured on Vans dedicated site and a dedicated YouTube channel and are being promoted globally. 


Vans knows its audience and it knows what they like. The 'Living Off The Wall' platform and this series of films speaks directly to fans of the brand with compelling stories told in an authentic voice. 

These films are real. At times gritty, sometimes funny, the stories are fascinating and ordinary at the same time. There is teenage angst, a desire to be different, a sense of isolation mixed in with the solidarity of being young. These films reveal tribes, outstanding individuals and celebrate both for the independent spirit.

These films are authentic, honest and raw – particularly the East Los Angeles films. There is no pretence, no sense of staging, no feeling that the marketing director is lingering in the background. These mini-documentaries would have been made anyway it's just Vans beat the filmmakers to it. 

These are really compelling stories and before you know it you’ll lose yourself in thes films and the characters. 

These films pay tribute to some fascinating young people – those whose stories would otherwise not be told. Whose lives would otherwise just be part of the noise and there’s a familiarity and an amazing sense of us against the world. 

This platform shows that Vans really understand its target market. Not just what they like, i.e skating or punk rock,  but also who they are and how they feel about the world and their place in it. 

To some degree its not surprising to see the strong focus on skating - this is Vans heartland after all, but to views these as films about music and skating misses the nuances and the real essence of what makes them, and the platform, so special. 

These films are not pushing the brand. There are no lingering product shots or people talking about shoes, instead this is about giving the brand presence and aligning it with a way of life. 

It’s not about wearing Vans shoes or clothing its all about the way you live. For these kids, it’s a lifestyle and a way of thinking not a product.  So connecting the brand to these subcultures and these kids lives is crucial to the brand. 

These are not films about skating or music, rather Vans is tapping into the essence of how young people define themselves – through their sub-cultures. 

This is a huge part of being a teenager, this notion of creating your own space or movement or even dress style. What Vans achieves with this films is to validate these scenes and in doing so gain validation from the audiences. 

The strategy is to tell the stories of the people of wear Vans and position the brand as part of this world. It’s just super smart and bound to be super successful. 

In fact, the only surprise from this platform would be if it wasn’t successful, although I thoroughly doubt that. 

The artistry of these films is in the making, well shot and beautifully edited these mini-documentaries are superb pieces of storytelling. Reeking of authenticity, thanks to well selected documentary makers, Vans have created mini-masterpieces. 


Authentic, compelling and really cool, Vans have created a series of exceptional films, which are bund to connect with audiences and deliver kudos back to the brand. 

  • 4 stars. 




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