The Vans Custom Culture Shoe Design Contest first began 10 years ago. Considering the restrictions for gathering during the health pandemic, Vans altered the format this year, going digital. …
The Vans Custom Culture Shoe Design Contest first began 10 years ago. Considering the restrictions for gathering during the health pandemic, Vans altered the format this year, going digital. Whittled down to the top 25 nationally now, a group of art students at East Islip High School has made it this far.
In February, 500 groups across the country were chosen to participate and instructed to create two shoe designs. Inspired by the culture and people of Long Island, the six EIHS art students ( juniors and seniors) submitted their two designs: Off the Wall Shoe, designed by senior Hailee Cornell; and Local Flavor Shoe, designed by senior Leah Neville. Cornell is also responsible for the digital collage that arranges both her and Neville’s designs.
“It has been a privilege to be a part of the Vans Custom Culture Contest,” said Cornell. “Working on the designs for the shoes provoked out-of-the-box thinking and ‘off the wall’ designs. The chance to represent East Islip High School in this challenging time has been a huge privilege.”
Neville said participating in the contest is an honor.
“It gives me the ability to release artis- tic freedom while showing East Islip pride during these times,” Neville said. “I have been fantasizing about creating a bagel shoe when I first heard about the theme ‘local flavor’ — since, let’s face it, we all love bagels here in East Islip. Doing the designs was so fun, and I’m excited as to where it has brought us now.”
Four concept artists worked alongside Cornell and Neville to complete their submission: seniors Ava McNulty and Alyssa Huss, and juniors Rob Camlet and Nick LaRocca.
Two art teachers, Heather Toomey and Daniel Figliozzi, oversaw the designs and are both advisors for the National Art Honor Society. The group was required to provide an impact statement alongside their designs, considering the $50,000 grand prize and $10,000 rewarded to the runner-up.
“Our school’s art department is the heart of our school. It pumps the life force of self-expression, brings creativity, a sense of belonging and acceptance like no other place in the school,” the statement reads. “We are able to connect with students who are opening themselves up creatively to criticism, and we grow together. We are an art family, just like Vans was a small family-owned business. We are in the business of cultivating and supporting young artists to achieve their potential. We strive for quality and to elevate students to not only achieve greatness, but to accept and embrace the creative lifestyle of authenticity.”
The statement continues on to describe the financial impact in the case of receiving a monetary award, specifically men- tioning pottery wheels, 3D printers, large format printers for photography, and a lighting studio.
“Every teacher always has a wish list, and we are always looking to expand and advance our department and provide our students with the newest, best possible instruction, tools, equipment, and creative experience,” Toomey said.
The statement reads that, psychologically, it would reinforce that the program is going in the right direction.
“I am incredibly proud of our students for creating such amazing designs,” Toomey said. “They are so hardworking, and I appreciate that Vans modified the contest this year so we could still participate, even though our physical shoes were stuck in the school. It was exciting just to be chosen to participate, and now I can’t even believe we are in the top 25 of the digital shoes.”