Inside furniture brand Modernica‘s DTLA factory (their home since launch in 1989), co-founder Jay Novak and marketing lead Ingrid Hernandez-Morrison join Vans VP of Footwear Design Mark Haskins to unveil a Vault by Vans collaborative capsule collection. It’s most certainly one of the skate brand’s finest—reissuing their Style 36 LX and OG Slip-On LX silhouettes while lending three archival prints to Modernica for matching fiberglass shell chairs. Unsurprisingly, both feature their iconic checkered motif, blue palm pattern and orange Hawaiian print.
It took more than a year to develop, from broad strokes to the thoughtful details on both sides. A lot of this was also a thorough vetting by Vans. As Novak shares, “They put us through a process to find out how happy our employees were and how safe the workplace is. It taught us a lot about corporate responsibility—something we thought we knew a lot about already.”
Novak sees a parallel ethos and history to both brands. “We embody the culture of Southern California,” he explains, “This chair was designed in Los Angeles. The process to make it, which was brand new in 1949, was also invented here. The Modernist movement that this was a keystone piece of, Los Angeles was the hotbed of it. We are steeped in the culture of Southern California, as is Vans.”
“The chair is Modernica,” Hernandez-Morrison says to us. “Everyone knows this design. It’s common knowledge. The fact that this design was brought back in fiberglass is important. Making it the way it was intended to be made, from the materials it was intended to be made from—not plastic—is special to us.” Modernica produces 35 chairs total a day—with a process that employs unique equipment that they salvaged in 1999. As we stood on the production line, watching the Vans collaboration come to life, the importance of each employee came into sharp focus.
Vans understands this, as well. “When we looked to do this, it was about pairing designs from our history that work well with theirs,” Haskins shares with us. “These simple two-color graphics, they’re traditional for us, but they match the modern design aesthetic. The back and forth was about what’s appropriate for each. Ultimately, though, it’s really about celebrating the craftsmanship.” That’s something the family-owned, almost 29-year-old, made-in-California Modernica can boast: craftsmanship.
Those familiar with the chair style and Vans silhouettes will notice several exclusive developments. The former features removable leather padding. The latter references Modernica’s signature brand, Case Study, in text along the sole. As one expects, premium materials define both sides of the capsule—including leather and suede accents on the footwear.
The Vault by Vans Modernica collection will be available online and in store on 23 February, with slip-ons retailing for $110 and lace-ups at $120. Modernica’s Vans shell chairs will also go on sale that day, retailing for $500.
Photos by Celina Kenyon