The New AVE 2.0 Embodies Vans Skateboarding's Commitment to Progression

Neal Shoemaker, Vans footwear design director, and Catherine Acosta, Vans archivist and historian, explain how.

Skateboarder in action behind an AVE 2.0 sneaker ad highlighting shoe features
Images via Vans Skateboarding
Skateboarder in action behind an AVE 2.0 sneaker ad highlighting shoe features

If you love skateboarding you know Anthony Van Engelen. With a career stretching back to the late ‘90s, Van Engelen, or AVE, has stacked a heap of insane video parts. He was also Thrasher’s 2015 Skater of the Year. AVE’s skating blends tech with switch mastery plus speed, power, and aggression. It's earned him fans worldwide and a long list of Vans Skateboarding pro shoes. AVE and Vans aren’t done yet.

The pair teamed up once more to release his new, tech-forward pro model, the AVE 2.0, on March 28. It’s available now from Vans Skateboarding and at select skate shops worldwide. Shoppers can also complete their kits with the accompanying apparel collection. 

The AVE 2.0 is Vans Skateboarding’s most advanced model ever. 

“I think we are in the future now where shoe design is actually technical and performs well. Twenty years ago skate shoes just gave the appearance of tech,” AVE explains.

Collage of high-top sneakers with unique lacing system and a fusion of textures, showcased from multiple angles

The new shoe sports a signature Vans Sidestripe on clean cream or black colorways. The AVE 2.0’s sock-fit knit upper boasts a durable RapidWeld™ suede vamp and lower eyestays. For support and structure, the shoe utilizes a molded TPU heel clip and midfoot cage. Down below, the AVE 2.0 sits on an UltimateWaffle™ sole made from SickStick™ rubber and an UltraCush™ insole. Its impressive blend of powerful technology and classic Vans styling echoes AVE's skateboarding. The AVE 2.0 is the perfect representation of him as a skateboarder. 

Last Thursday, Vans celebrated the AVE 2.0 drop by opening its Commitment to Progression Global Gallery Tour at its downtown Los Angeles shop. With historical Vans Skateboarding images curated by company archivist and historian Catherine Acosta, a VIP tour of the exhibit, a panel talk with AVE, a skate jam, a cash for tricks contest, and a host of team riders attending and skating, the event went off. Complex spied Vans Skateboarding pros Andrew Allen, Ben Kadow, Lizzie Armanto, Pedro Delfino, Breana Geering, Beatrice Domand, Curren Caples, Geoff Rowley, and AVE himself mingling and skating, alongside a hyped crowd of industry heads and fans. Attendees enjoyed the skating and panel, peeped the new shoe, and got a look at Commitment to Progression photos tracking Vans Skateboarding’s long history of innovation and progression. After leaving LA, AVE and the gallery will travel to Shanghai and Seoul.

Introducing AVE 2.0

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Ahead of the AVE 2.0 release party and Commitment to Progression gallery launch, Complex spoke with Acosta and Vans Skateboarding footwear design director Neal Shoemaker. We discussed the new shoe, working with AVE, and the company’s record of innovative design and manufacturing. Check out their insights below, then take an up-close look at the AVE 2.0 and its technical specs.

Shoemaker on Van Engelen’s Ideas for the AVE 2.0:

“He decided he was down for more modern materials and technical constructions. We've taken that and run with it.”

Acosta on the AVE 2.0:

“It's made to be a second skin.”

AVE walks with skateboard wearing casual attire and white sneakers. Close-up of sneaker label shown

Shoemaker on the AVE 2.0’s Construction:

“As far as skateboarding goes, this is the first shoe that has a true, functional knit in that way. So you have this sock-fit construction that's got stretch around the collar and the top of the foot. Then everything else is kind of fixed in a way where it's meant to be pretty stable and predictable.”

Acosta on Historical Inspiration for the AVE 2.0:

“When AVE started riding for Vans in 2005, he was wearing the Old Skool a lot. He’s wearing Old Skools in one of his first Vans ads actually. And the Old Skool inspired many of his pro models, including the AVE 2.0. You can see it in the Sidestripe and the RapidWeld™ suede toe cap on his new shoe.”

Shoemaker on the AVE 2.0’s Links to Classic Vans:

“Proportionally it all links back to an Old Skool, which made Anthony feel pretty good about it.”

Collage of various sneakers, including a close-up of a Vans shoe with a skater's tattoo visible

Acosta on the Commitment to Progression Gallery Showing Vans' History of Innovation: 

“Vans' strength has always been manufacturing. Beginning in the late '70s and up through the mid-'80s, Vans expanded its product line. It started cold cure factories and made cup soles and shoes for breakdancing, basketball, and even skydiving. So that sort of innovative history is there and continues today with the AVE 2.0. I wanted to show that brand progression and innovation in the gallery exhibit too.”

Shoemaker on Making the AVE 2.0 Durable:

“The RapidWeld™ suede, the knit itself, and the way we've constructed the outsole, lends itself to durability.”

Shoemaker on the UltimateWaffle™ Sole Made from SickStick™ Rubber:

“The rubber that's on the AVE 2.0 is what we use across most of the skate category now. Our innovation folks, Emily Alati and Michael Taylor, who run that side of the development design world, developed a new formulation for rubber, which has a higher natural rubber content that has specific agents in there to help with durability flex and feel through the rubber. It went back to this era of Vans in the ‘90s where you'd pick a pair of shoes out and the paper would stick to the rubber because the shoes were so sticky. And it was perceived like, Oh, they're going to grip crazy.”

Collage of skateboarding-themed sneaker store with customer trying shoes and displays of various sneaker styles

Shoemaker on the Cream, Black, and Green AVE 2.0 Colorway:

“Those are the colors that Anthony was down to wear. That cream came directly from him.”

Acosta on AVE's Personal History With Vans Skateboarding:

“AVE is from Southern California and grew up skating Vans. We have this amazing photo of AVE as a toddler wearing blue Authentics. And he's ridden for Vans for almost 20 years now and worked with Neal for over 15 years. That history shows in the new pro shoe.”

Anthony Van Engelen Retrospective | 19 Years of Skating Vans

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Acosta on AVE's Influence Beyond Skateboarding: 

“Thinking about AVE and his skateboarding career, I love the "Green Bench" and how it's followed AVE through the years and become its own thing in skate culture and beyond. That really speaks to how skateboarding intersects with its environment, design, and with other cultures."

Collage of sneaker exhibit, people examining shoes, and a man in a hat at an event, focusing on sneaker culture

Shoemaker on the Exclusive AVE 2.0 Neon Colorway at Commitment to Progression Stops: 

“For each of the gallery stops, we'll have limited quantities available for sale.”

Shoemaker on Pushing Vans Technology into the Future:

“It’s a lot of fun to try something new and see if we can change perception around Vans and push Vans Skateboarding into a different direction.”