Waffleheads:
A subculture of shoe
fiends turn sneakers into
a platform for creativity
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This is Off The Wall

Meet the Waffleheads: a group of collectors, customizers, and creatives who carved their own space in the culture of collecting footwear. This isn’t a story about standing in line for an exclusive drop or pristine kicks kept in their boxes. This is the other kind of sneaker culture.

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"Nobody Else is Making What I Want, So I'm Going To Make It."
For artist Penelope Gazin, customization is second nature. In the spirit of DIY, when she wants something made, she makes it herself - because no else can make the same vision come to life.
The CustomizerPenelope GazinLos Angeles, California
The HistorianHenry DaviesLondon, England
"The More Meaning Loaded into a Product, the Better. "
In 1999, Pillow Heat founder Henry Davies kicked off an ambitious goal - to collect every vintage Vans shoe that was made in America. For him, it’s not about the acquisition of the shoe. It’s the hunt, the history, and the meaning loaded into each new find.
"I don't call myself, or think of myself as a collector."
Jayass has one philosophy in life - if he wants it, he buys it. And over the past ten years, he has come across a lot of things he wants. His home is a happy clash of vintage chairs, gas lanterns, street cats, and a massive wall of Vans. Sometimes you don’t choose collecting, collecting chooses you.
The Accidental CollectorJayassSeoul, South Korea
"It's not just fashion, it's an actual cool little community that we've created"
Bill Cruz is one of the OGs of the Vans collector world. What started off as a hobby turned into a full blown addiction - hundreds of Vans stuffed away in a storage unit near his California home. It opened a world for him that went beyond the fashion; it led to the creation of Under the Palms, a community of other like-minded collectors from around the world.
The Anti-FashionistBill CruzVentura, California
The BakerPanda MeiBeijing, China
"It's a pair of shoes that has history and meaning."
As a nontraditional artist, Panda Mei grew up with a foot in both eastern and western cultures. His constant need to try something different led him to bring his two worlds together: combining ceramic sculptures with Vans silhouettes.
"I am more focused on doing what people tell me not to do"
There are so many facets to artist Hyun Ye, it’s impossible for her to name them all. She’s also not interested in trying to. As handy with a paintbrush as she is with an ink pen, Hyun Ye switches from style to style based on what she feels like drawing that day.
The Rule BreakerHyun YeSeoul, South Korea
The Bead QueenCharlene
Holy Bear
Phoenix, Arizona
"We're artists, we adapt with the times. "
As a member of the Lakota Sioux tribe, Charlene has a message for anyone with a preconceived notion about Native American art: artists adapt with the times, and they’re not going anywhere. By doing traditional beadwork on Vans, Charlene keeps her tribe’s aesthetic present.