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Vans and the Ukrainian brand TTSWTRS released a collaboration, but with inscriptions in russian. How does the brand team explain it?

At the end of September, Ukrainian brand TTSWTRS presented a joint collection with Vans, released as part of the Vault by Vans premium line. They have been working on the Vault by Vans x TTSWTRS drop, which includes four models of sneakers, since September 2019. Two pairs are complete with inscriptions in russian, which caused the brand to be criticized in Ukraine.

don’t Take Fake Magazine tells more about the collection, and also asked the founder of TTSWTRS Anna Osmekhina to comment on the russian language on the shoes

What is this collection

As noted in a press release, the Vault by Vans x TTSWTRS collection is dedicated to nostalgia and “the memories associated with a particular sneaker model, which appear every time we open the box of shoes”. Two models have inscriptions in russian such as “Blue Bloods”, “City Hospital”, and “Approved by Vans”.

The peach-colored OG SK8-Hi LX “tells the story of a punk metal fan who fell asleep on a park bench after a concert, and reminds us of the rebellious periods of our lives”. It was complemented with an image of a skull.

The light pink OG Style 24 NTC LX pair is dedicated to the art of tattooing and decorated with an image of a dragon.

The white OG Authentic LX has “Blue Bloods” lettering on the right shoe, and the left one is complete with an angel pattern similar to classic porcelain paintings.

The OG Style 24 NTC LX refers to the “design aesthetic of unpalatable medicine” and is adorned with the russian inscriptions “Approved” and “City Hospital”.

Reaction in Ukraine

On Instagram, in particular, under the TTSWTRS post about the collaboration, the brand was criticized for its use of the russian language. In response, TTSWTRS explained that work on the collection began in September 2019, when they were “still communicating in russian” and promised to transfer all profits from the sale of sneakers to the “Come Back Alive” foundation.

The brand also noted in a comment that there is no way to remove the shoes from sale because they were manufactured in January 2022 and “have already been distributed to more than 170 Vans stores around the world”. TTSWTRS does not have the ability to buy back the shipment and destroy it, as some users have suggested, “due to lack of money”.

TTSWTRS was also accused of trying to hide the fact of using russian instead of explaining the situation openly. As an argument is used the brand’s post about the collaboration with Vans, in which four models are placed on one slide, making it difficult to see the text elements. Articles with a full lookbook of the collaboration are published in foreign publications, in particular on the sneaker portal Sneakernews.

How TTSWTRS comments on the situation

We asked Anna Osmekhina, the founder of TTSWTRS, for a comment.

— How did your collaboration with Vans become possible? When and who suggested working together?

— Our team pitched the idea of a brand collaboration in January 2019. The Vans team liked the idea, and we started working on the capsule.

— Did you communicate directly with the Vans head office or the Vans office in Europe or russia?

— We talked to the head office.

— Tell us about the idea of the collaboration and its aesthetics. How did the idea of “Approved” stamps and the phrase “Blue Bloods” come about?

— The aesthetics of the collaboration are similar to the TTSWTRS designs of those years, namely the familiar white and beige colors with tattoos. The design is an interpretation of the memories of different people at different times.

The “Approved” stamp is an association with childhood memories of the hospital and visiting the doctor. “Blue Bloods” is a tattoo phrase from our collection, which was developed in 2018.

— Was the release of the collaboration originally planned for the fall of 2022, or was it postponed? If it was postponed, what was the reason?

— The release was postponed due to the pandemic and production specifics.

— Did you have the opportunity to reject this release and not release the collaboration? Why did you decide to release it anyway?

— The capsule was already designed and produced at the beginning of the full-scale invasion, so we couldn’t help but release the collab. Vans had purchased a license to use our designs, and since then we have had no intellectual property rights to them.

What we could do was to make sure that all the funds went to the needs of Ukraine.

— If there was no such possibility, why didn’t you say right away that russian was used in the collaboration? You are also accused of the brand trying to hide the presence of the russian language on Instagram (you have to look closely and enlarge the image to see it).

— We didn’t hide the fact and the nature of the collaboration, so we shared it with the audience. But we consciously refused to show the models where the russian language is used, because we understood that it is unethical to show and advertise these models, as well as to promote the russian language in any way. We also refused to launch the capsule in Ukraine.

— What are the next steps for TTSWTRS in this situation?

— We hope to get the funds from the sale as soon as possible so we can help the army, that’s our first step.

A new patriotic shoe model is also in development.

TTSWTRS will continue to transfer funds to the AFU and do everything to support Ukraine, just as they did before.

Read also. don’t Take Fake Magazine interview:

Vans’ head of design: “I never thought about saving the brand”

 In February 2022 (before the large-scale russian invasion), Ukrainian blogger Lera Tsymbal revealed on Instagram that she had purchased a bomber jacket from the TTSWTRS store in Kyiv with the inscription Made in russia on the tag. Tsymbal added that the brand did not respond to her request for comment. TTSWTRS reacted in the stories after the publicity and public criticism, calling the situation an «error in distribution».

«TTSWTRS is an international brand that allows us to distribute our own philosophy under licensing agreements outside of Ukraine. This led to an error in distribution. Currently, the only production locations are Ukraine and the People’s Republic of China. TTSWTRS constantly promotes Ukrainian products internationally and will continue to do so», the brand team said in a statement.

Until February 24, the official Instagram profile of TTSWTRS noted that the company has stores in Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv and Moscow. So far there are only two stores in Kyiv and Odesa.

Read more about Ukrainian brands in the section «News» in the column with the same name.

Design partner —
Development — Mixis