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Talking with TET

WTAPS x Vans

Tetsu Nishiyama aka TET, is the director of Japanese powerhouse WTAPS®. He is often credited to have helped shape the Harajuku street scene of the early 1990s. With a brand timeline filled with notable collaborations in the likes of Stussy, BAPE©, Supreme - TET credits his partnership with Vans as one of his all-time favourites.

We sat down with TET at Paris Fashion Week to talk about his relationship with Vans, inspiration for the brand and what the infamous 'bones' means to him. Take a read on what TET has to say and explore some of the WTAPS x Vans past collaborations below...

TET on his early inspiration:

 
In 1996, we started screen-printing the t-shirts and give them away to high school friends. The first GPS text was also designed in ‘96, Sk8thing also used it. The location is actually the Neighborhood studio. The influences came from my mentors in the late 80s, which were Hiroshi Fujiwara and Sk8thing. Skateboarding was an important execution for my creativity. It started from DIY, the culture in the community brought people together and grew organically. Music was an outlet and influence. The same way a movie would have a score, the soundtrack for WTAPS would be The Clash, Hans Zimmer, Public Enemy and CCR. With my egotism, that’s when I rethink and realise what the real purpose is - is it for me or my customers.

“I made the bones logo so skaters wearing them would have the same clothes, like a uniform.”

TET on his relationship with Vans:

 
One of my mentors handed me down a pair of Vans for 500 yen. It was a pair of high tops that were quite destroyed. There was a store called The Surf in Japan and I used to be intimidated to walk in and ask for customized Vans. The first shoe I customized was a pair of SK8-His with a crossbones textile. I still have a pair. 

VANS SYNDICATE X WTAPS

AUTHENTIC / SK8 HI / CHUKKA (2006-07)

One of the earliest collaborations between the two brands, these early Syndicate pack's featured silhouettes each with their own mash up of graphics including the famous bones and pentagrams, with the latter printed onto the contrast white midsole. The 2006 Wings pack came in a trio of colours and are among the rarest of all the packs.



CHUKKA / BLACK BONES PACK (2007)

As well as the Devil pack and No Guts No Glory pack, the 2007 Fall/Winter collection featured a selection of blacked out shoes with white crossbones panels. The first of the sole crossbones print series and perhaps still the best.    

ERA / DEVIL PACK (2007)

The Devils pack was launched as part of the large 2007 collaboration and are one of the lesser recognised. The all over devil print was used on these Era’s as well as Sk8-Hi’s.

VANS VAULT X WTAPS

SK8-HI / SLIP ON / CHUKKA (2013)

Back in the winter of 2013, WTAPS x Vans produced a pack consisting of two Sk8-Hi’s, Slip On’s and Chukka’s. Heavily inspired by military and naval colour schemes, this pack featured healthy doses of deep navy and olive...

SK8-HI - OLIVE SUEDE (2013)
WTAPS clothing tag stitched to the tongue of the Sk8-Hi's

CHUKKA - OLIVE (2013)
Olive khaki tonal canvas 

VANS VAULT X WTAPS 2015

SK8-HI LX / OG STYLE 36 LX / ERA LX (2015)

The winter of 2015 saw the return of the classic OG Style 36. Constructed in three monochromatic colorways picked by the WTAPS team, each sneaker featured premium suede and a production that replicated the look and feel of the original Style 36 silhouette. Also included were three colors of the OG Era LX, coming with heavy white canvas uppers, paired with classic vulcanized soles in blue, green and red.

OG STYLE 36 LX - BLACK SUEDE (2015)

- 100% Suede Upper Shoe
- Vulcanised Rubber Sole
- Waffle Outsole
- WTAPS Spec Label on Tongue
- Custom WTAPS Logo Side Tab

ERA LX - WHITE GREEN (2015)

- 100% Canvas Upper Shoe
- Contrast Green Vulcanised Rubber Sole
- Waffle Outsole
- WTAPS Spec Label on Tongue

VANS VAULT X WTAPS 2016

SK8-HI / CHUKKA / AUTHENTIC / ERA

Dusting off their popular crossbones motif for another selection of dead-set slayers. The collection features black and military green colourways, built from canvas and suede, sprinkled with a large embroidered crossbone pattern. In addition they’ve thrown together a trio of anaconda embossed Eras, in simple white, black and blue colourways.

OG SK8 HI LX - BONE OLIVE WHITE (2016)

- Canvas & Suede Upper Shoe
- Bones Pattern Stitched Across Quarter Panels
- WTAPS Logo Tag on Tongue
- Vans Signature Waffle Outsole

OG ERA LX - ANACONDA WHITE (2016)

- 100% Leather Upper
- Leather Lining
- Wtaps Logo Tag On Tongue & Side
- Originals Red Back Tab

VANS VAULT X WTAPS 2018

SK8-HI / ERA / OLD SKOOL / HALF CAP 

In 2018 we saw WTAPS combining four of Vans most iconic footwear silhouettes with brand new graphic designs. WTAPS ingenuity is embodied through the OG Sk8-Hi LX, one of Vans’ most popular styles, embellished with bold orange and blue flame accents along the quarter panels, and finished with all black laces. We also saw the the OG Half Cab LX reimagined in a gray digital camouflage print, the OG Old Skool in two colorways, blue and green, as well as the Classic Era LX silhouette in a crocodile-textured quarter panel and a solid black and navy toecap.

ERA - BLACK CROCODILE (2018)

-100% Suede and Faux Crocodile Skin Upper
- Padded Ankle Support and Collar
- Durable Rubber Waffle Outsole
- Vans Label Tab to Upper
- Signature Vans Vault Detailing
- Contrast Stitching and Gold Eyelet Detailing
- Off The Wall Heel Tab

SK8 HI -  ORANGE FLAME (2018)

- 100% Textile Upper Sneakers
- Suede Overlays
- Vans Vault OG SK8-Hi LX Silhouette
- Embroidered Flame Design to Sidewall
- Padded Ankle Support and Collar
- Durable Rubber Waffle Outsole
- Signature Vans Vault Detailing
- Tonal Stitching Throughout
- Off The Wall Heel Tab