Monday, August 1, 2011

Behind the scenes of OTW: Interview with Tom Cooke

Have you ever wondered what it takes to create and make your favorite Vans OTW shoes or get a personal look at the design process? If so, we are starting a new feature where we take a candid behind the scenes look and get to meet the "heads" running OTW program. For the first feature we sat down for an interview with Tom Cooke a real OG, great dude and director of footwear/Core channel/Skate/Surf and OTW. Get the full interview after the jump!
Here is what happens when you get Tom on the iChat in the wee hours of the morning...

YS Hello!

Tom Cooke: What up YS!

YS: Hi Tom! How is your morning?

Tom Cooke: Excellent sir...I'm not at the office yet because VF computers don't work!

YS :)

YS Working from home is the best!

Tom Emoticons are the best...

YS They sure are...

YS So what is the first thing that you do once you get into the office?

Tom Usually check email for an hour or so....

YS Do you get to try on the best and newest OTW shoes right then or you wait a little?

We have so many shoe samples at the office and I'm sample yeah I'm always ready to test the fresh gear!

YS Nice!

iChat is too much fun

YS How is Fall 11 season looking?

super tight...a lot of nice colors and materials.

YS Dope! Can't wait. The line has changed a lot since it's first collection. Are you adding new styles?

Yeah...we added a nautical inspired style called the Cobern, it's an upscale twist on the classic boat shoe...

YS Oh wow! Boat shoes could go a long way! Is that due to your recent sailing hobby?

Tom's trophy!

Tom Ha we hooked that up before I got my invite to race Cal 20's...

YS Hell yeah! You already have the shoes ready to go...

Tom Word

Tom Those are out now...just dropped 6/1

YS Amazing!

Tom There is a super dope brown veggie tan leather colorway...

YS So let's get down to a bit of a history lesson for those who don't know.

Tom Cool

YS How did OTW start?

Tom We (at Vans) had the desire to do something more modern / progressive that related to the brand for a while... so OTW evolved from those strategic conversations and all the learnings we had up to that point. I got involved mid way and helped lead the team that launched the category.

YS Hence the styles became more involved and the fabric choices even broader?

Tom Yes no question. We had the strategic intent to create new silhouettes and push the material / fabric choices to a higher level and the price points reflect that.

YS It's very true, there is demand for that type of product from the consumer who is interested in culture, all thing new and has an affinity to Vans.
YS On the cultural aspect of things... Is that where the idea of advocates came from?

Tom No doubt. We view OTW as our commitment to street culture from both a product and a marketing perspective. We saw the opportunity to be the first brand to authentically broaden access to that market space. The footwear line and the advocates focus the identity and tell the story.

YS Absolutely! OTW website is a really good way of keeping up on that tip

Tom Yeah the website has really stepped up...I enjoy jumping on and reading in the mornings when I'm in cyperspace time...

YS Now you'll be able to read this interview there!

Tom Cool!

YS Who is the core team behind the OTW?

Tom Trevor Hill is the product line manager, Ian Gray is the footwear designer, and Rodney Rambo is the marketing manager. Those are the 3 guys directly responsible for OTW. Trevor reports in to me, so there is a layer of management that includes myself, April Vitkus in marketing, and Nathan Iott in Design.

That seems like a really good group of people!

It's a really strong group - love working with those guys...

YS I believe we are interviewing some of them in the very near future so look out for that!

Tom Cool - they will have really cool things to say I'm sure!

YS it's really interesting to take a peak behind the curtain, as most people don't really know how product gets into their hands and how much hard work it takes.

Tom No doubt. I hope people that are into Vans sneakers and culture get something out of this. working in this industry is really an amazing experience. you get to embrace your passions and work hard / play hard with great people...

YS For sure! I heard that Japan/China trip was really fun...

Ako and Atiba...they bring the party...

Tom I love those dudes...

Tom Here's a good shot of Toons doing his thing...

Eric and Dimitri try to do proper faces!

Dimitri is mad stoked at Mooneyes!

YS Last but not least what are the best things in 2011 so far?

Tom That Shanghai / Japan trip really captured the essence of the culture...working hard / playing harder... random...a film that I really liked... Transcendent man...check that one out. I studied mechanical engineering in college so I geek out on the tech world...

YS That's some deep knowledge! I'll have to look it up.

Tom I'm really stoked on the OTW product we designed this year, all the stuff that is coming out in 2012. The new models are HEAT! And of course just living the life...skating, riding bikes, sailing, I want to learn to general for me the SoCal coastal lifestyle is the best thing ever!

YS For sure! The best things in life are really just around you, one just has to look...

Tom important to stop and smell the roses from time to time. look around and experience the real world. I think the movie Wall-E sorta nailed it on the downside of technology. let's make sure we're not that fat dude floating on the computer chair...

YS Damn! That's some profound knowledge!

YS Thank you so much for taking the time to do this!

Tom My pleasure YS!

Tom Dope - thanks to all the waffle lovers out there for all of your support!

YS :)

Tom Late. Peace!

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