Words: Graham Hiemstra
On Thursday September 15th, New York City welcomed the newest addition to the city’s growing skateboarding community with the opening of the Vans DQM General. The much anticipated retail concept brings together two of the most notable names in contemporary streetwear, melding Vans’ West Coast surf and skate inspired style with the fresh East Coast street style of NYC’s own DQM. Standing as Vans’ first official retail store in Manhattan and the first co-branded project of its kind in the US, the General aims to add a carefully curated selection of Van’s iconic California lifestyle inspired goods to DQM’s second NYC storefront.
Surviving for years on dozens of accounts throughout Manhattan, Vans had no real need for a stand alone retail space in the city. But when DQM founder and owner Chris Keefe approached the footwear giants with an idea, they listened. The former pro skater (who rode for Vans in the early 90s) drew inspiration from Vans’ first ever pop-up shop at LA’s Conveyor for Fred Seggel in 2009, seeing an opportunity to do something of a similar fashion in his home town. As the idea developed both sides saw something more permanent, more substantial, was in the making. And so, just one year after talks began, doors opened at the Vans DQM General.
“For me there was no other option,” explains Keefe of deciding on a location, “with the magnitude and history of Vans, we had to be in the heart of SoHo.” What once was a gritty haven for skateboarders, artists, punks and those who generally walked on the wild side, SoHo has been transformed into a shopping-centric destination for all the big names in fashion. Although the neighborhood has changed, Keefe is adamant about staying true to his roots of skateboarding. “Just because we’re in SoHo doesn’t mean we have to act like it,” joked Keefe about being neighbors with posh high-fashion retailers like Prada. Located at 93 Grand Street, the new shop is not only surrounded by art galleries and fashion houses but also around the corner from fellow streetwear influencers The Hundreds and Nike Sportswear, guaranteeing extremely high foot traffic and plenty of curious stumble-in customers.
In terms of impact, opening up shop in SoHo may very well have been the best business decision Keefe could have made, as increased brand awareness for DQM on top of a obvious boost in sales for both companies will more than likely result. And although other Vans accounts in the SoHo area may feel a slight hit they’re not concerned. Raised exposure for any account is a positive thing-at the end of the day a shoe sold is a shoe sold, no matter what account it’s from. And with a main focus on billboard, word of mouth and social media marketing the product will sell itself as the hype takes over.
Functioning as Vans’ only official store in NYC, patrons can also look forward to browsing a well curated selection of classics and boutique styled choices from their Vault, Surf, California and OTW lines. On top of this the General will also sell a full line of DQM’s own streetwear alongside decks, wheels and trucks from all the same core accounts found at their original East Village storefront. Developed exclusively for the collaboration shop, a premium line of co-branded threads will be available as well, including three DQM for Vans shoes set to be released mid-October.
Opening Night & Launch Party Overview
To commemorate the end to the first day of sales, a rather raucous get-together was held for friends and family at the Vans DQM General on Thursday evening. A few hundred local skaters and industry heads came by to show their support, drink some brews and witness a rad performance by Ray Barbee and the Mattson 2. To cap off the night a Vans DQM cake cutting was held by DQM owner and founder Chris Keefe, celebrating the ideal birthday of any shop owner.
The following night an official launch party was held at Brooklyn’s House of Vans where more free drinks fueled a similar crowd of skaters, artists, industry folk and head bangers. Early on a heavy session went down in the concrete bowl as handfuls of local guys ripped the pool coping like it was 1985. Once the lights dimmed Suicidal Tendencies played a seemingly never ending set loud enough to bring the house down. Kids thrashed, girls crowd surfed and everyone left with a smile on their face and their ears ringing.