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Tilly Macalister-Smith

Inside Sterling Ruby and OTW by Vans’ skatewear-inspired collaboration

OTW by Vans Sterling Ruby Skating Collaboration.

OTW by Vans and American artist Sterling Ruby’s S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA. revealed their much-anticipated first collaboration last night (27 February), on the eve of the opening of Frieze LA 2024. It was celebrated with an open-air lot party, pop-up skate installation, and performance in downtown Los Angeles with guest artists Paris Texas and Salem. 

Ruby, himself a former pro-skater, has been wearing Vans for four decades. The collaboration manifests as a new skate shoe titled ‘Clash the Wall’, a mash-up of four Vans icons: the Old Skool 36, the Authentic, the Mid-Skool 77, and the Sk8-Hi. Its two acid colourways – luminous orange and vibrant green – feel reminiscent of Ruby’s often unnerving use of colour in his works, which span sculpture, textiles, drawing, collage, ceramics, painting, and video. The 2019-founded S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA is the arm of his studio which creates clothing collections (the designer also memorably collaborated with Raf Simons on a co-branded A/W 2014 collection for Simons’ eponymous label). 

Sterling Ruby’s S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA. collaborates with OTW by Vans

The sneakers, created by OTW by Vans and Californian artist Sterling Ruby’s S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA, riff on classic Vans silhouettes (Image credit: Photography by Jack Bool)

This new project marks the first time the artist has officially collaborated Vans, although in the summer of 2023, in Paris, there were hints of what was to follow. Back then, Vans shoes hand-customised by Ruby’s studio started cropping up on select friends of the studio and on skaters making use of Los Angeles-based creative studio PLAYLAB, INC’s pop-up skateable installation at the city’s Pont Alexandre III.

A similar set-up by PLAYLAB, INC provided the backdrop for the event yesterday evening, an epic skate park which Jeffrey Franklin, the collective’s co-founder and partner, worked on with Ruby. ’We wanted to take the classic wood skate architecture of ”the hill” and create a sort of abstract [version] of that into a standalone piece,’ he tells Wallpaper*.

Another view of the skate park-inspired set, created alongside Los Angeles-based creative studio PLAYLAB, INC (Image credit: Photography by Atiba Jefferson)

’It was about creating a colour field they could skate within,’ he continues, pointing out how the sound stage was integrated into the back wall. An angular, abstract clog which is in development with Sterling Ruby’s S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA. appeared to provide further inspiration to the skatepark’s blocky shape, while the bright ‘pollen’ yellow was intentionally chosen to complement the shades of Sterling’s sneakers.

’We “dipped” the whole thing in this unique colour so it was uniform all the way through,’ says Franklin.

(Image credit: Photography by Jack Bool)

Built using Skatelite in collaboration with California Skate Parks, the installation can be disassembled and reused. ’It's a skate language, but we wanted to create something that leans more towards the unique artwork side of things,’ Franklin concludes.

OTW by Vans x S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA. will be available in limited-edition quantities through selected global retailers and at, from 29 February 2024.

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