How do you create a footwear masterpiece? Take four classic street silhouettes, mix in three primary colors, add a signature—like one-of-a-kind multi-colored soles—and perfect an artist statement. That’s just what Lawrence Arin, vice president and general manager of athletics for Vida Shoes Intl., is doing this fall with new line of unisex lifestyle sneakers called Project C.A.N.V.A.S that examines the design possibilities of these simple components.
The collection, which includes a hi-top, lo-cut, chukka-inspired sneaker and a loafer, debuted at the January edition of Agenda in California. Arin says feedback from veteran footwear and fashion industry executives, as well as 20-something fashionistas who were showing their own lines at the show, opened the company’s eyes to the fact that Project C.A.N.V.A.S’s unique twist on understandable silhouettes was going to appeal to a wider range of consumers than they initially expected. With retail prices between a reasonable $50 to $90, and retailers like Sportie LA, Packer Shoes and CCS on board for the launch, the line’s future seems as bright as its palette and message.
Short for “CAN visually achieve success,” Arin says Project C.A.N.V.A.S aims to encourage youth and young adults to “treat life as a canvas upon which they have the power to create their own masterpiece” by supporting art programs like the Urban Arts Partnership, an organization that benefits artistic development in underserved public school areas. Arin adds Project C.A.N.V.A.S is exploring other creative avenues to raise money for the organization. “We made a conscious decision not to go the ‘percentage of sales’ route with our charitable endeavors since the true measurement often becomes ambiguous,’ he explains.
Instead, Project C.A.N.V.A.S is tapping into celebrity friends like musicians CeeLo Green and Mariah Carey to collaborate with design students to customize shoes in the medium of their choice. The shoes will go up for auction in May. Fundraisers like this, Arin notes, raises money and an invaluable amount of awareness for the brand and its mission. “The people and organizations we are lucky enough to work with have tremendous reach to the public through Twitter, Instagram and other social media vehicles,” he adds.
It’s an ideal public soapbox for Project C.A.N.V.A.S, which Arin has even bigger plans for. Within five years, he sees Project C.A.N.V.A.S as a global leader in paradigm shift where he says “commercial enterprises are viewed not only as a profit-making entities, but as vehicles for shaping the betterment of society as a whole.”