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heel description

INDEX # 027.167

DEFCON's origin, though recently more publicized (read THESE DAYS ZINE article here) are still hazy at best... and purposely so. With roots and relationships forged from inside the original Syndicate category, their concept and purpose is evolving at such a pace it would be impossible to hit pause and attach a label. Brand builders, collaborators, product designers, problem solvers, consultants...these are all part of what happens on a regular basis, but don't dare do it Justice. A personal note: I always get a kick out of it when someone labels themselves in proud fashion "I'm a designer, or I do this / that"...DJ, Photographer, etc, when usually they just stumbled into that last week, or picked up a hobby and barely qualify as amateur. My philosophy is that I want to work hard and let my actions represent who I am and not be labeled by some paltry "title". It is for this reason that I find DEFCON group so enviable / fascinating. They put out quality work time and time again and don't waste their breath bragging about it, just move onto the next project. DEFCON has in one way, shape, or form, absolutely altered the way this generation sees the world...though most go about their daily lives not knowing the difference. It would be impossible to corner these guys for long enough to cover it all, but in honor of the holiday '14 Vans Syndicate project, I was lucky enough to get a few moments to shed a little light on a select history and hone in on some details relative to this launch.

Questions in Grey by Brant, responses in Olive by Berto Liechty.

It is public knowledge that DEFCON is based upon the work You, Berto Liechty, and Jeff Potocar do for outside clients. Could you elaborate on how you came together and / or what was the catalyst for that first endeavor? What was the moment you both said, hey, this is not a one-time project, but could be expanded upon into other endeavors?

I'd say it started pretty early on when we met. it was a natural progression. We would hang out and help each other out on different projects. Each time some opportunity would come up, I'd head to Jeff's and we'd pick it apart from top to bottom. We'd talk for hours about what was wrong, what was right. Then we'd hype ourselves up with whatever solution we'd settle on, and that was the start our process. We both have obsessive personalities. We can get hung up on the slightest detail for days until we are confident about its meaning or purpose. If there is a part of something we don't feel our knowledge about is solid, we dive in and try to become masters of the subject.

If we focus on Vans, Can you give a really brief timeline of what projects you personally have participated in, maybe mentioning the releases that were not co-branded DEFCON? Lets give you a second to brag a little bit, since I know you wouldn't mention otherwise.

Collectively we have always been a part of Syndicate since the beginning. Over the years there have been many projects that I we can be proud of the results from the effort. Some we had a heavy hand in, others maybe a little less, but in the end its all about the team at syndicate so I'll brag about that. The hard part of Syndicate was getting it off the ground. You have to think back to the time we started it. People thought we were either crazy, or really on to something. After all the back and fourth with the nay sayers, I have to acknowledge the higher ups who gave us the rope to hang ourselves in the end. They gave us a chance to prove that this out of the box approach would resonate with the heads in the skate world and beyond. We knew that some were ready for product with a lot more effort behind it and much more then a simple collab throw some fucking artist work on the shoe and call it hype. I mean I guess you could call it worse now then it is today, or its just the way things evolved depending on your point of view, but the primary idea was to retool the shoes with the technology we have today for a more comfortable yet robust shoe for skating, but preserve the classic heritage of the shoe. Then to bring artists, designers, athletes (skaters) to the table and bring them into our process, our method. It was a lot of hard work. I can tell you that there was many shoes that got bumped until we got it right. So, just to go back to the team, this couldn't have been done without everyone involved wanting the same outcome. And that is the very best product you can possibly do with in the time and resources you have. We would challenge each other, we would make our arguments why, but in the end, everyone got behind the best ideas and strategy. It didn't take very long at all for us to realize we had a extraordinary crew. None of that corporate bullshit where you have to massage some asshole's ego who has nothing to offer but everyone feels they have to validate because he's been there forever or makes shit ton of money. You just can't ever get the very best out of a environment like that. And face it, that's the majority of the so called creative workforce.

We operated different, and that's what made our product different. Obviously DEFCON is run in the same manor and thats why we don't end up working with some people. They think they want what we have, they think they want to work with us, but once you get started and you start speaking plainly, things get straightened out real quick and you know who's who and where you stand with it. Its pretty funny sometimes, disappointing other times, but you just keep focused and on to the next.

And then aside from Vans, I know your future work is not to be disclosed, but can you mention anything in the last year that was especially rewarding?

We have been very fortunate to be a part of some pretty mind blowing products and projects, but can't speak on anything specific yet.

vans syndicate authentic "s"
Season 024.152 Syndicate Project

Readers can take the opportunity to freshen up on your role within Syndicate via the link provided in the if we jump ahead to Last years product launch, 024.152 was a banger. With previous releases, though just as ground breaking (and now highly sought after), you had modest sell through but at the time, though they were easily found on shelves IF you knew where to look. What changed with this product launch? Was it the timing of the product, the current awarenes and interest, the AOR digital camo specifically, the more widely accepted silhouettes, etc?

I think there are a few layers to that. Yes, the past camo shoes were rad and successful in their own right, but clearly not in the way the AOR was. So look at the timing aspect on the camo. Camo has always been a part of design and pop culture. Most of my friends on the east coast, or in the service were the ones super hyped on the old camo collections. Back then we didn't have all the blogs or social media that we had today. It was a lot slower to get the message out. Also, Dunks were still the top dog shoe for sneaker heads. Then you look at the tactical world. We have always had one leg in the so called tactical world and one in the so called street wear world. In the tactical world back then, you didn't have many cool small companies that you do today: it was the same ol' sacred cows of the industry. Back then you didn't even see many young heads at the trade shows or shooting unless they were military or industry insiders. We were always the weird skater dudes that talked funny and rolled with some military guys. Now, years later, you have a whole industry that has caught up by all the smaller company's that started from vets coming home calling bullshit on the old cows, and taking things into their own hands. We now you have a industry that is as savvy as any fashion or otherwise. And shit has cross pollinated to a degree where lines are so blurry people don't even bother with labels or titles.

So now we are here and with AOR versions: Today you have collectors and milspec observers, not much different then we were 10 years ago out of place skaters, but with instagram, facebook, what ever, and they're educated and right on top of trends / technology. Also, it doesn't hurt that SEALs are in the spotlight throughout the world. So you have a camo that identifies with that group, it's all very secretive, SEALs are bad ass, the camo looks dope. It works with those who don't know the first thing about it or SEALs, you have a classic redic dope shoe, and then you got us who have been looking through the lens both ways for a very long time, and we're in the best position to put it all together based off of our needs at that moment in time. I think thats pretty much it in a nutshell.

For those that may not know, or just want to hear about it from your perspective, can you elaborate on the importance of AOR patterns?

AOR1/2 camouflage (area of responsibility) was developed by the nswc for the navy SEAL teams specifically. tThe camo has a classified dye that falls within the NIR (near-infrared) spectrum giving it camouflage properties when using night vision devices.

What were the trials and tribulations of bringing a current, military only, pattern to the public?

Might be able to tell that one in 10 years.

So last year, we (as a Syndicate retailer) saw two sample versions of apparel to coincide with the shoe launch, then a final scrap altogether. Can you elaborate on that process and talk about what the decision was to cancel it?

No comment.

vans syndicate DEFCON BONEYARD "s"

Jumping now to this seasons launch... Using LBT's MAS grey. What is your relationship with London Bridge Trading, inc? And lets talk about this new MARITIME ASSAULT SUIT material and its relevance.

We always intended on doing the MAS Grey. We would have done it with the original pack given the chance. Grey has always been one of my favorite colors. I modified a British Desert DPM and added grey to it for one of my Japanese homies brand in the early 2k's. Then a sniper friend of mine showed me how to desert paint our rifles. I asked him is it weak to add grey, he said hell no, grey is the best color to use all around. Then some years later grey started to really pick up in the tactical world. Now just about every brand has developed their own version of grey and named it. But clearly even if it's just from a taste point of view, let alone it's functional capabilities, LBT's MAS Grey looks the best so it was logical to us to approach them.

vans syndicate DEFCON & LBT "s"
London Bridge Trading, inc label detailing

How receptive was LBT to the idea?

They were super rad to work with and we've all really enjoyed the process. Hopefully we can keep it going and work on some more products in the future.

Yeah I was excited to see their crest on the shoe officially as a co-branding. I assume that indicates this material is truly mil spec, which is amazing and may elude to the slightly higher price point.

Yep. That's why we have the label on there. It's the actual material.

reverse waffle tread pattern outsole

vans syndicate DEFCON "s"
work up prep

Berto, Thank you for taking the time to talk about what you do. Loyal Syndicate customers and collectors really hone in on the details you work tirelessly to provide, so it is much appreciated that you explain a little of the ryhme and reason with us. We look forward to any and all in the future!

Awesome. Thank you brant.

CLICK TO SHOP ONLINE AT SILOSTOREClick image above to shop online


PROJECT: 027.167
SIZES: 6.5 - 12, 13

After the Naval Special Warfare developed main camouflages “AOR1” and “AOR2” for desert and tropical environments, MAS (Maritime Assault Suit) Grey was introduced by London Bridge Trading as a color variance that would provide optimum environment blending for Navy SEALs to wear while conducting VBSS (vessel boarding search & seizure) and maritime operations.

Since shades of grey have a history of minimal identification and work well within most environments due to their lack of visibility/contrast across the color spectrum, Navy SEALs started utilizing MAS Grey for nighttime operations in addition to maritime operations. Developed originally for SEAL Team 6 / Devgru, very few MAS Grey items were ever issued to Naval Special Warfare Operators (i.e Navy SEALs).

The MAS Grey kit consist of an OpsCore carbon helmet, a Bluewater Defense combat outfit and a London Bridge Trading 6094 plate carrier with assorted pouches and two different London Bridge Trading assault backpacks. Inspired by these covert operation tools, DEFCON utilizes LBT MAS Grey for their latest Sk8-Hi Notchback Pro “S” release this holiday.


Sk8-Hi Notchback Pro “S”
• Premium Fire-Proof Warrior Suede® (waterproof, oil and chemical resistant pig suede)
• DRi-LEX™ lining throughout (moisture wicking and anti-microbial)
• Gusseted tongue
• Maritime Assault Suit (MAS) Grey ballistic textiles
• Military detailing from DEFCON identity to BDU specs
• Durable, textured foxing tape and reinforced reverse waffle tread pattern outsole


available at both Silo locations and at SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15th