Vans Pulls Pro-Hong Kong Shoe Design from Competition – ‘#BoycottVans’ Gains Traction

Image: Vans contest site

Despite receiving the highest number of votes, a shoe designed by Canada-based artist who goes by the name “Naomiso” has been pulled from a competition sponsored by Vans that offered the design with the highest votes a $25,000 prize and production of their design.

Why was the most popular entry yanked by the shoe brand? Because it was in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

According to a report from the Business of Fashion, since voting kicked off on October 1, Naomiso’s design drew over 140,579 votes and counting. The second-place entry was nowhere close at the time of reporting with the submission by “Madillusionsart,” receiving only 17,006 votes at the time of writing.


A search on the entry site returns no results for Naomiso, however, Madillusionsart’s two entries remain.

Vans issued a statement in English and Chinese on Facebook, which is banned in China, that:

“As a brand that is open to everyone, we have never taken a political position and therefore review designs to ensure they are in line with our company’s long-held values of respect and tolerance, as well as with our clearly communicated guidelines for this competition.

Based on the global competitions guidelines, Vans can confirm that a small number of artistic submissions have been removed. This decision was taken to uphold the purpose of Custom Culture.”


Here is the complete statement on Facebook:


Since Vans pulled the entry, hashtag “#boycottVans” has gained popularity with people criticizing the move on social media.

Posts include one reportedly showing people in Hong Kong tossing several pairs of Vans in the garbage.


Vans joins other shoe brands who have strayed into the prickly territory of Chinese politics. Nike last June cancelled the release on the mainland a shoe collaboration with Undercover. This after the designer Jun Takahashi posted his support on Instagram for the Special Administrative Region’s ongoing demonstrations with a photo captioned “no extradition to China”.

At the time Undercover deleted the post, saying that it was an “individual opinion” that was put up by mistake.


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