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Vans Brings Meaning to In-Store Art

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Stores that work as galleries are fairly commonplace in large cities. Owners of shops of this kind tread that fine line between something that’s good to look at and space in which you don’t want to touch anything, at which point the ‘shop’ side of things has ceased to be.

But to see what is possible, a visit London’s Covent Garden to inspect the newly opened Vans flagship, the first of its kind in Europe, might be in order. Vans is largely a casual footwear brand worn by those who like to consider themselves part of the ‘indie’ movement and which has its origins in the skatepark. That said, it is still a shoe shop, with a few clothing items, but in Covent Garden, the store is also a gallery.

The first hint of what’s in store is apparent immediately upon entering the shop where there is a tableau on the wall that makes an art display of a few shoes and jackets, informing the onlooker that this is a certainly a shop, but it’s also an exhibition.

Where Vans scores is by putting the full-blown ‘gallery’ side of things in the basement, where artworks en masse, are given room to breathe. It’s a simple device and one that manages to bridge the divide between art and commerce: a capital encounter.