House Of Vans in Calgary

House of Vans comes to Calgary April 13-15, 2018
House of Vans comes to Calgary April 13-15, 2018
Everything you need to know to go

House Of Vans in Calgary

House Of Vans plans to pop-up with multiple events in Calgary’s Big Four Building.
Blair S. Watson
Blair Watson has been a journalist and Editor for 30 years. He was the senior Editor for Concrete Wave and Concrete Wave Editions, and served as an editor for a number of US-based magazines. Blair owns and operates Speed-dealer Distribution and its retail arm, as well as Speed shop, where he creates custom skateboard gear and works as a consultant with skateboard brands around the world. He can usually be found rocking out in local bars on his guitar or skateboarding at local skateparks—he’s been on-board for 43 years and continues to roll the bowls today at 53.

House Of Vans, a promotional arm of Vans’ Off The Wall sport shoes, kicks off their weekend-long POP-UP event in Calgary on Friday, April 13.

Tony Hawk skates at Millennium Park in Calgary in 2001

Calgary's skate community attracts some of the world's best, like Tony Hawk who came for the opening of Millennium Park in 2001

Thrasher Covers showcasing skate culture in Calgary

Classic Thrasher magazines highlighting Calgary's skate scene

A little background to get you up and running

Vans has been staple for skateboarders when it comes to skate shoes. Though it was 1966 when they first went into production with a shoe model designed more as a beach/sailing shoe, it did allow them to stick their foot in the waters of the gigantic American shoe market. As skateboarding caught on in a big way a few years later, Vans jumped in with both feet, poised to become one of the most popular skate shoes in history with their early shoe models and waffle sole being ideal for skateboarders.

Just over a decade later as the Calgary skate scene exploded in popularity, so too did Vans popularity with skaters. In 1978, Canada’s first indoor concrete skateboard park, Skatopia 1, opened its doors in Calgary to meet that demand—the demand for Vans grew right along with it. Calgary’s first skateboard shop, Freewheelin’ Skateboards, which opened its doors in 1976, was the first store to carry Vans shoes in Calgary and had trouble keeping them stocked on their shelves as they flew out the door as fast as they came in. Today, Vans are available all over Calgary in a variety of skateboard, bmx, fashion, shoe, sportswear, lifestyle and subculture shops—and at Vans own outlet store at CrossIron Mills mega mall. Vans appear to still be No. 1 with many Calgary skaters too.

With Calgary’s massive skateboard community, product availability and popularity of Vans product being large enough to make them one of the most popular skate shoes on the market, Van’s footprint in Calgary could be considered gigantic. But add the variety of other subcultures, musicians, and artists attracted to the footwear, one might think they have no need to promote their wares here at all. That does seem to be the case not only in Calgary, but in many of the 84 other countries around the globe where Vans shoes are available. Despite that popularity and massive sales to meet the demand, they still push the promotional aspect in a very big, but unique way with their House Of Vans (HOV) division, which has a number of brick and mortar locations in the US and one in England. HOV also stages what they term as “POP-UP” events all over the world. The next HOV POP-UP is here in Calgary.

POP-UP? What’s a POP-UP?

Just what is a HOV POP-UP event? As HOV puts it, “It’s a place where imagination lets loose over concrete bowls, art installations, workshops and concert stages, inspiring every person who runs, rolls, or stomps through its door.” It sounds interesting and entertaining—and its free. That makes it sound very interesting considering all this 3-day event has to offer.

In the case of the HOV POP-UP in Calgary, which runs from April 13 to April 15, it would seem to be a lot bigger than what anyone would consider a “pop-up”—the multi-stage event’s footprint is huge!

Where’s it at?

HOV’s Pop-Up event will be staged at the legendary Big Four Building on the Stampede Grounds, with the venue’s 118,000 square feet (10,962.5 square meters) of rentable space being utilized fully for the myriad of elements and events that make up HOV’s POP-UP. There’s plenty of parking available on the Stampede grounds and the Big Four is very C-Train accessible for Calgarians to roll up and drop in on the event.

Check out a live mural being created by Jay Howell at House of Vans in Calgary

Check out a live mural being created by Jay Howell

DIIV performs at House of Vans on Saturday

DIIV performs Saturday night

So... what all is going down?

Among the many elements that make up the weekend-long event, HOV's POP-UP will include a Community Market, curated in collaboration with Market Collective, showcasing Calgary’s ever growing creative community and includes everything from vinyl record stores, visual artists, woodworking, ceramics, tattoo artists, underground skatewear brands, and more.

Sounds good so far

Speaking of sounds, Brooklyn band DIIV and Philadelphia’s Sheer Mag, in addition to a number of local Calgary acts including Monolith AB, Port Juvee, Crystal Eyes, Feel Alright and Melted Mirror, will be providing the multi-genre soundtrack for the event.

Girls Skate Clinics as part of House of Vans

Girls Skate Clinics celebrate women in skateboarding on Saturday & Sunday

The Skate connection

Did I mention Vans’ deep connection with skateboarding?

Another massive element of HOV’s POP-UP will revolve around the quite large indoor skateboard park HOV are constructing in the Big Four Building. And in doing so, HOV is also paying respect to Calgary’s ever growing skateboard scene by including a respectful nod to Calgary’s extensive skate history by including obstacles mirroring local Calgary skate hot spots, landmarks, and a rebuild of a popular element of one of Calgary’s many privately run indoor skateparks that came and went over the years. There’s no doubt skaters will be happy to see the now defunct 403 indoor skatepark’s much admired and missed booter ramp as the center piece of the POP-UP skatepark.

The skatepark will also be featuring a number of scheduled skateboard elements including Skate Skool, Girls Skate Clinic, and the House Of Vans Best Trick contest— as well as offering a number of free open skate sessions for the public. Whether you’re a pro level skater or a beginner, there’s something here for everyone who wants to jump on board—whether you just want to dangle your feet in the water or jump up and drop in with both feet, there is something for everybody to get their kicks.

Create your own custom pair of Vans with the help of local artists in Calgary

Create your own custom pair of Vans with the help of local artists

Feeling artsy?

HOV’s POP-UP also offers attendees the opportunity to get their art on by by inking their own designs on blank white Vans shoes—how cool is that? Local artists will be standing by to assist if needed. Don’t forget to sign up early on-site.

Acclaimed artist and illustrator Jay Howell—known for his work on TV show Sanjay and Craig, children’s books, and as a winner of the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children’s Animated program—will be creating a live mural painting on-site while skate photographer/journalist/editor Jeff Thorburn (King Skateboard Magazine, Concrete Skateboarding and SBC Skateboard Magazine) will be putting on a photography workshop for budding skateboard photographers. 

And last but not least, as a wrap, Alltimers will be presenting the world premier of their video No Idea.


Did I mention it’s all free?

It is. Get rolling for the weekend and we’ll see you down there—looks like a whole lot of fun!