Lately, many companies have been taking a closer look at how they support females, from their employees and executive teams, to their influencers, fans and followers.
Vans is no exception. The 50+ year old company has been supporting female athletes in one form or another since its inception, from Cara-Beth Burnside, the first female skateboarder to have a signature skate shoe, to its latest campaign that includes Atita Verghese, India’s first female skateboarder who is building skate parks and getting more young women on skateboards in her native country. l
Recently, Vans released a video chronicling Verghese’s story – it is one of many that will roll out this year in honor of women skateboarders and Vans’ efforts to make the sport more inclusive, according to April Vitkus, Vans senior global brand marketing director.
And while supporting women through global skate contests is the norm for Vans, this is the next step to elevating and unifying those efforts.
“Skateboarding is still an unorthodox activity for women in many parts of the world,” Vitkus says. “When we heard about Atita and the work she was doing to get girls on boards in India, we had to get involved and help tell her story.”
We caught up with Vitkus to hear more about what Vans has in the works this year and how they are bringing female skateboarders’ to the forefront globally.
How long has this campaign been in the works, and what can we expect to see with the roll out?
This Is Off The Wall started in 2017 and began as a way for Vans to showcase the essence of “Off The Wall” through a range of stories that highlight the passions and various forms of creativity that the brand has always supported.
We wanted to continue that story this year, but take a longer look at those creative cultures that exemplify “Off The Wall.” Along with the storytelling, you’ll see that Vans is taking an opportunity to not only talk about creativity, but actively enable our extended Vans family through events including skate clinics, art workshops and board drives.
Vans touches a lot of different audiences – why did the brand feel that skate was the most important category in which to speak directly to women?
The “Girls Skate India” story advocates for skateboarding. The more people that skateboard, the better. We want to ensure that this unique form of creativity is accessible to everyone.
How did “Girls Skate India” come together and how did you select Atita Verghese’s story to highlight?
A couple years ago, the Vans India team connected with Atita after seeing her speak on a local TED Talk. Her commitment to building skateparks and getting girls to skate speaks to everything we stand for as a brand.
She became our first athlete in Vans India and the local team continued to share her story with our global team here in California. It would be hard not to tell her story.
Vans is also hosting a series of girls skate clinics around the country. Can you talk about how this came to be?
We want to ensure that we are living by our ethos of enabling creative expression. As we developed the campaign, we wanted to not only tell stories of creative communities, but make sure we actively engaged with and inspired those communities.
“Girls Skate India” captures how skateboarding empowers Indian girls through confidence and their creative interpretation of skateboarding, and we want more young women around the world to have that same experience.
How was the reception at the first clinic in Orange County? What were some of the key learnings or take aways?
The event, hosted at the Vans Skatepark in Orange, was one of many similar events that happened across the globe.
It was a proud moment to see so many young women at skateparks and House of Vans locations joining together to celebrate skateboarding.
The key learning is that there are women’s skate communities everywhere and we are honored to be a part of that community.
Vans also just hosted a skate contest in which the women’s prize purse was equal to men’s. How is Vans looking to change perceptions and norms about female skateboarding across the industry?
Ultimately, we want more girls and women to consider skateboarding. Whether it’s a skate clinic where someone gets on a board for the first time or a local skater who earns a spot in the Vans Park Series, we are actively making sure women at every stage have the resources needed to keep evolving this industry.
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