Artist Charlene Holy Bear has heads turning on social media with her custom beaded Vans Classic Slip On sneakers, first created as a one-time gift for her son. A member of the Standing Rock Lakota Sioux tribe, Holy Bear came up with the idea to bead the shoes in advance of her attendance at the annual Gathering of Nations (known as North America’s largest powwow) in Albuquerque.
“I hadn’t had any time to prepare outfits for us but I wanted my four-year-old son, Justus, to look really cool. He had a new pair of Slip-On Vans and I suddenly had an idea, looking at the checkerboard design,” Holy Bear told Vogue. “Once they were beaded they had this sort of urban Indian vibe so I braided my son’s hair, put on those shoes and he was the coolest little guy at the powwow. People were stopping us to take photos, he made such a splash.”
The shoes made they’re way to Pinterest and other social media platforms, Vans caught wind and smartly gifted her with a supply of the silhouette for free.
Holy Bear’s ability to go viral is in part a reflection of her skill level. She’s been working her craft since the age of five and was talented enough to use money from sales to fund a purchase of a horse as a teenager and later, her college tuition.
While the demand for Holy Bear’s beaded Vans has exploded, she does all the work herself and the process for creating them takes up to two weeks. If you’re interested in purchasing a pair, Holy Bear has info on her website for placing an order.
Check out some samples of her work below, including a set of beaded earrings.