Anyone who’s followed Vans over the years will know that the American apparel icon has never been conservative with its collaborations. But while the brand has a history of pushing cultural boundaries and bounding bravely into the future of fashion, its first flagship collection of the year just so happens to harken affectionately back to the past.

In a new collection with New York City-based designer, Sandy Liang, the brand is releasing a line of elevated, playful apparel and footwear largely inspired by 1990’s aesthetics. The collection is slated to release on January 28, making its vibrancy a welcome sight ahead of the typical February doldrums. Of course, this being the third collaboration between Vans and Liang, it’s no surprise that the collection once again feels perfectly in line with the nostalgic, elevated artistic expression that has defined the partnership thus far.

This time, Liang has placed her signature stamp on some of Vans’ most iconic footwear and apparel pieces. Looking to elevate beloved styles, this head-to-toe collection reflects the designer’s deeply personal connection to New York City. With passions spanning fashion, film, architecture, and conceptual design, Liang personifies the creative expression that is now synonymous with the apparel brand. By using what she describes as “grandma fashion,” sport femme, nostalgia, and humour as her guiding design principles for the footwear and apparel assortment, Liang has reinvigorated some of Vans’ most beloved silhouettes.

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This season’s footwear lineup features four Classic footwear styles. The Sk8-Hi Platform 2.0 showcases a delicate, all-over rose embroidered canvas upper while the Style 73 DX takes retro inspiration of the Sidestripe and floral embroidery on one side of the uppers and “Lower East Side Lover” on the other side. Vans’ original deck shoe, the Authentic 44 DX receives multi-coloured gingham fabric makeover, a lace collar, and a detachable pouch on the tongue.

But Liang’s ingenuity also comes in the form of an entirely new silhouette with the debut of the Sk8-Hi Tapered Modular, a hi-top with a deconstructed slim collar that has novelty lace trim. The shoe also comes with a removable outsole unit so that the style can be transformed to be worn with or without the outsole.

Key looks from the apparel assortment include the Vans x Sandy Liang Chore Coat in cotton canvas with all-over embroidery, patch pockets, and a corduroy collar for a new take on a workwear staple. The Vans x Sandy Liang Hoodie is a heavyweight, French terry with a relaxed fit and custom screen-printed details. But for the collection’s flagship item, Liang brought her quintessential fleece design to the Vans collaboration with an all-over printed Sherpa mock neck jacket along with a matching Sherpa crossbody. The crossbody features a jaw-dropping multi-colour floral and butterfly Sherpa on one side and a quilted nylon back panel on the other.

Of course, it’s still early in the year, meaning we have yet to see the wave of collaborations soon to come from high-profile brands. And as they roll out, it’s easy for smaller, more intimate collections such as this to become saturated in the market. But if you’re looking to refresh your spring style with vibrant pieces and support independent designers along the way, the Vans x Sandy Liang collection could just be the perfect retail remedy to carry you through the winter months.

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