Just in time to melt even the coolest heart, Vans has released their capsule collection with artist Curtis Kulig, celebrating his much heralded "Love Me" tag.
"Love Me" is at once childish and unassuming and has been emblazoned on billboards and walls in Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo and Paris, garnering a worldwide following. Fans have gotten "Love Me" tattoos and Kulig has rendered his message in paint, stickers, neon, bronze and now Vans.
The Vans x Love Me collection includes a black and red Women's Sk8-Hi Slim with "Love Me " embroidered around the heel and onto the side panel of the classic high-top. A perennial favorite, Kulig has personalized the red Authentic with a white repeated tag and fashioned the iconic black and white checkerboard Slip-on with a red splattered "Love Me" hit.
Kulig said that in is early days of growing up in North Dakota, "Skateboarding was all we had." Like most skaters, he's had a lifelong love affair with the side stripe, explaining, "For me, Vans is the first brand I ever probably really had a loyalty to. My mom would try to pawn off something from me, like whatever back to school shoe was the cheapest, and I'd just keep wearing my old shoes even though my feet would be busting out of them."
Kulig's father, a silk screener, indoctrinated him to the power of the print at an early age. The artist hit the ground running, moving to Los Angeles, Calif., as a teenager to hone his talents. Then, with "Love Me" beginning to take form, Kulig packed up and moved to New York City, where his trademark scrawl has been embraced.
Unlike the graffiti that's often next to his work on a wall, Kulig is quick to point out that the shared location is where the similarities end. He explained, "I try not to think of it as a tag, because graffiti is a really specific art form and I'm not in that game. I have so much respect to so many artists who have built things over the years that I would never want what I do to be confused with what they do."
After years of painting and stickering "Love Me" all over the world, it's taken on a life of its' own, which Kulig is now a participant in. "For me, it's just a statement that I put out there and now it's bigger than me." Kulig continued, "maybe that's what makes it humble -- that it's not just about me, it's about what it means to other people that keeps it interesting."
With commissioned work, gallery shows, and high profile collaborations bringing Kulig's handstyle to the market in a myriad of incarnations, the Vans kicks are definitely as collectible as they are wearable. Kulig proudly stated that the collection is everything he hoped it would be, saying, "They're what I'm personally into and I love how they came out. The funny thing is that they expected girls to buy them because of my statement, but I get hit up more by my guy friends wanting to get a pair."