Vans is proud to partner with Krooked Skateboards to bring together two of the most creative legends and pioneers in skateboarding: Natas Kaupas and Ray Barbee. As the embodiment of creative expression through art, music, and culture, Ray and Natas bring to life a collaboration rooted in iconic creative expression and authenticity.
Known for their unexpected guest boards, Krooked teamed up with Vans to deliver on this tradition by bringing in Natas, who holds special meaning with both brands and who served as an inspiration to Ray during his formative years as a young skateboarder. A respected artist in the skate community and beyond, Natas tapped into iconic board graphics from the past—Ray’s Ragdoll and Natas’ Panther—updating them with signature Krooked eyes and bringing them to life across footwear, apparel, and a guest Krooked board.
The Vans x Krooked collection proudly introduces Vans Checkerboard Union (VCU)—a subset of Vans Skateboarding dedicated to experimental footwear technology and construction, limited-edition collaborations, and skateboarding essentials that progress the culture of skateboarding and uplift its communities globally. Like the checkerboard itself is a symbol of unity, the Vans Checkerboard Union brings together the best independent skate shops, top collaborators, and skateboarders around the world to deliver what matters most to those who matter the most to Vans. The Half Cab ‘92 VCU and the Slip-On VCU in blue/white mark the initial roll-out of Vans Checkerboard Union.
Leading the Vans x Krooked collection, the Skate Half Cab ’92 VCU features Ray’s Ragdoll on the left and Natas’ Panther on the right, as well as the collection’s namesake debossed on the shoe’s sidewall. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Vans Half Cab, and the silhouette rightfully takes center stage in this collection, underscoring its undeniable cultural significance and the influence of fellow skateboarding legend Steve Caballero on Ray, Natas, and the entire skate community.
Additionally, the Skate SK8-Hi®, Skate Slip-On, and Skate Old Skool™ in black all feature additional variations of Natas’ character artwork as well as his custom Checkerboard print in different iterations across the uppers. The Skate Sk8-Hi® features Vans x Krooked in handwritten red lettering, as well as custom suede heel counters debossed with “By Natas” and “For Ray Barbee” on the left and right pair, respectively. Each shoe in the collection utilizes DURACAP™ reinforced materials to protect high-wear areas and PopCush™ energy-return footbeds for impact protection that snaps back and won’t pack.
The collection is rounded out with an Off The Wall short sleeve tee in aegean blue and black, a fleece in black with Checkerboard sleeve detailing, and a snapback in aegean blue, all featuring Natas’ Ragdoll and Panther sketches and the Vans x Krooked logo.
As a leader in skate hardgoods, Krooked was founded by professional skateboarder Mark Gonzales, one of the most influential skaters in recent history. Fellow friend and skate legend Ray Barbee officially joined Krooked Skateboards in 2020. Recognized for his role in progressing street skateboarding, Ray has made a name for himself over his 30-plus year career as not just a skateboarder but also as a world-renowned musician and photographer. Natas Kaupas, considered one of the first pro street skaters in the world and the first pro to ever have a signature skateboard shoe, was influential to a whole generation of skaters that includes Ray Barbee and his timeless style. Natas’ art has appeared across many skate brands over the years, and as a Santa Monica, California native, his creative spirit both on and off the board thoroughly embodies Vans’ DNA.
The Vans x Krooked by Natas Kaupas for Ray Barbee Collection will be available beginning February 25, 2022, at select Vans Skateboarding retailers and at Vans.ca/Skateboarding.