New threads inspired by Daniel Johnston, a West Virginia–raised artist, advocate for mental health awareness.
The American clothing company Vans, best known for its iconic skateboarding shoes, has always strived to promote artistic expression. One way the company does this is by working with other designers and independent artists to release unique collaborations—collections of Vans clothing and shoes inspired or directly influenced by the work of other creators.
The Vans Skateboarding x Daniel Johnston Collection, released earlier this year, is a special collaboration intended to raise awareness and increase access to mental health resources. It was created in partnership with the friends and family of the late musician and visual artist Daniel Johnston and the nonprofit Hi, How Are You Project, which was founded in his honor.
Johnston, who grew up in West Virginia in the 1960s and ’70s, grappled with mental illness but, despite his struggles, he independently produced more than 15 full-length albums and a steady stream of visual art. He recorded his music on cassette tapes and illustrated their covers by hand, establishing a distinctive “outsider” style that continues to influence artists today.
Johnston’s 1983 album release Hi, How Are You? entered the international spotlight when Kurt Cobain was photographed wearing a T-shirt depicting the album’s cover art. From then on, Johnston became an underground music scene icon. Three years after his death in 2019, the Vans Skateboarding x Daniel Johnston Collection—a small collection of clothing and shoes that display Johnston’s hand-drawn cassette tape covers—has introduced his art to a whole new generation.