After 38 Years, Vision Street Wear Is Still Kicking

Who coined streetwear? Nobody knows. But Vision Street Wear helped to define it and 38 years later the brand is alive and kicking.

When a clothing brand is seeped in rich history it can also become ancient history. Rarely do we see a collective capable of withstanding the test of time particularly in the streetwear industry. Clothing lines come and go with ever-changing trends of each new season. However, 38 years later the ever-iconic Vision Street Wear still remains intact.

The question of who was the first to coin the term “streetwear” remains unanswered. But the first to license and trademark the term is Vision, way back in 1976, when streetwear was virtually undefined. In the present, it has become a market that encompasses all subdivisions of street fashion. In the ‘90s era, street fashion was broken down into urban, skate, and athletic style. Today, streetwear is a culmination of all these categories.

Vision Street Wear shaped the culture and bridged the gap between the worlds of fashion, skate, music and art. Look no further than the brand’s past endeavors. In the ‘80s Vision hosted a slew of “Skate Escapes,” the most memorable of which included a performance from a young Red Hot Chili Peppers and a grinding sesh from a younger Tony Hawk.

The younger generation of swag junkies is most likely unfamiliar with Vision. Long removed from its heyday decades ago, Vision resurfaced last year with a collaboration with Chloë Sevigny for Opening Ceremony. This spawned an array of celebrities to revisit the classic look. No one did it quite like pop superstar Rihanna who was photographed clad from H2T in Vision on more than one occasion.

The kids may be unfamiliar, but the OGs know what it is. Nostalgia arises when the image of the original “box logo” is seen. After years of going dark in the United States, Vision Street Wear is ready to make a prominent return.

Now found in the capable hands of Brand Manager Mark Encinias, Vision successfully rebooted last year with the release of their Spring/Summer 2013 collection. Encinias’ priors include work with Rogue Status/DTA, K Swiss, and Pro Keds. The Brand Manager has played a major role in building a sales team to get the product in the itchy hands of distributors.

Brand Manager Mark Encinias at Vision Street Wear's Agenda booth.

How does a brand that is practically unknown to the new generation remain relevant for so long? “People that are 18-24 years old are like, ‘Vision Street Wear, who’s that?’ And luckily in this day and age kids can pick up their phones and search us. That’s when they realize we have influenced all these people,” says Encinias. A simple Google search would lead you to find that some of the brand’s biggest ambassadors include skate legends, Mark Gonzales, Duane Peters and Mark “Gator” Rogowski.

The other key to relevancy is an array of counterfeiting. “One of the biggest things is you can see how many people have knocked off our iconic box logo. A couple of our other graphics are being knocked off as well like our ‘Hypno’ print and the ‘Psycho Stick,’ not as easily.”

Vision still honors its skateboard roots, but is tending to lean more towards a lifestyle approach. Local skate jams are still sponsored, and boards are still offered for purchase to the kick-pushing customers. Encinias is even in the process of a Vision skate team redux. Yet the main focus is the brand’s global influence through its footwear and apparel divisions.

Photo of Vision Street Wear's iconic silhouettes the Canvas Hi and Lo.

The formula remains the same, keeping it classic. The quintessential shoe silhouettes serve as canvases to new designs. These include a big push on the Suede Hi and Canvas Hi/Low models as Vision continues to build on the production of apparel. Showings at the Agenda Trade Show locations have attracted potential buyers and big fish, such as clothing mogul, Urban Outfitters, has reached out to carry Vision in their stores.

Slowly but surely Vision is catching up to the speed of the modern street scene. A collaboration with Us Versus Them is set to release in June, and they will continue to collaborate with artists who can provide a unique perspective on the brand that birthed this crazy world we call streetwear.

With 2016 quickly approaching, Vision Street Wear is set to celebrate its 40th anniversary. “Trust me I’m already thinking about it. I’m beginning to plan it out, there’s a whole bunch of thoughts on what to do but it should be one big year long party.” Often imitated, never duplicated, Vision Street Wear is alive and kicking with its sights on a return to prominence.

Yo! Adrian encourages you to shout his name like Rocky.
Twitter: @_YOADRIAN

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