Skaters and sneaker heads mourned the loss of Indonesia's only legitimate source for Vans sneakers last week as the locally owned distributor declared bankruptcy and abruptly shuttered its stores.
The canvas sneakers are popular in Indonesia, but distributor PT Gagan Indonesia was unable keep the lights on at its brick-and-mortar stores amid heavy competition from online resellers and a tidal wave of counterfeit knockoffs.
The company tried to renegotiate Rp 273 billion ($20.5 million USD) in debt, but failed to reach a deal with its creditors. All Vans stores shut their doors permanently on 31 May. Indonesian Vans fans will have to find their sneakers online now.
"Indonesian customers are pretty smart nowadays, add that in with resellers, online Instagram shops, pre-orders, mail order, and tons of local retail sites like Kaskus and Tokopedia and they will still get what they want," Claude Hutasoit, of the skate crew Senayan Skateboarders, told VICE Indonesia. "The prices are sometimes outrageous, but as long as they get those kicks, it's all worth it."
But still skaters like Claude said you can't go back to knockoffs after wearing real Vans.
"You feel a huge difference between the fakes and the real thing," Claude said. "You wouldn't want to skate in fakes again. We're talking about skate shoes that are actually for skateboarding, there is a significant difference in quality, comfort, and function between the fakes and the originals. They may look the same, but they don't hold up or do their 'job' once you actually skate in them."
Watch: Dan Leung on Falling In and Out of Love with Skating
Some claimed that the local Vans stores only had themselves to blame for their economic woes. Dita, a customer, claimed that the staff at her local mall hoarded all the best shoes for themselves.
"The staff liked to keep some of the stock for themselves, rather than sell them off to customers," she said. "They hoarded all the best sellers, but that is just from my own personal experience."
Dita said that the most-popular sneakers were never in-stock at her local mall. Others said the company never tried to reach out to fans or support local communities.
"They never gave back to the community, that's the reason they're finished," said Kims, the founder of UBC, a Jakarta-baed hip-hop label. "It made people feel like they were never part of the movement."