Nothing sticks in musical memories quite like the iconic front cover of Led Zeppelin’s 1969 self-titled first album. Nothing sticks in the world’s collective memories like the 1937 images of the Hindenburg zeppelin just as it caught fire, was engulfed in the flames, crashed into the ground, and ultimately ended up as a mass of burning wreckage. Led Zeppelin’s front cover is a black and white image of the first moments of the 1937 Hindenburg airship disaster. It’s a pairing that had to be.
Jimmy Page chose the image. He’d been part of the discussion with The Yardbird’s guitarist Jeff Beck, and The Who’s John Entwistle and Keith Moon about forming a new band. It really started as Moon’s play on words. He’d mentioned that a new group would “go over like a lead balloon”, to which Entwistle was said have added, “a lead zeppelin”. Led Zeppelin became the new group’s name. Not everyone accepted it. Eva von Zeppelin, whose relative created the ill-fated Hindenburg, legally threatened the new group when she saw the band’s logo. But, the artistic rendering in ink created by George Hardie using mezzotint technique and Rapidograph technical pen perfectly merged the image with the band.
In later years, journalist Greg Kot wrote about that cover for Rolling Stone. It was his opinion that the image visually captured the story of the album’s music, which was about catastrophe, sex, and explosions.
Fifty years later, the Led Zeppelin album is celebrating a milestone anniversary, and Vans has created a special collection of Led Zeppelin footwear and clothing. The original Led Zeppelin logo from that album is on the Vans Sk8-Hi. Vans has skillfully merged the iconic logo with their own iconic, first-ever high-top basketball sneaker design. The skate shoes offered more coverage for the foot and Vans has been producing the design ever since they were created in the 1980s. It’s a pairing of two iconic designs to make an awesome tribute to Led Zeppelin.
There’s more, too. Vans has created a low tops style, the Era, including the iconic Led Zeppelin symbols used on their fourth album. The album was untitled but is typically called Four Symbols or simply Led Zeppelin IV. It’s historically important because it contains Stairway to Heaven; arguably one of the most popular and best know of their songs. Each band member chose as symbol which represented something they felt strongly about.
Robert Plant’s is the feather of the Egyptian goddess of justice surrounded by a circle. Plant viewed it as being inspired by the Mu civilization, said to have left the Easter Island statues in place. Jimmy Page designed his own ZoSo symbol. Page only revealed what it meant once to Plant, but Plant forgot what Page said, and Page refused to tell him again. John Paul Jones symbol the circle intertwined with three ovals is one kind of Celtic Knot. John Bonham’s symbol symbolizes the man-woman-child trilogy and is found in a book about the Rosicrucians, but Bonham chose it because he liked it. The Four Symbols album is historic Led Zeppelin and those symbols comprise the design work on the Vans second sneaker design.
Each of the shoe styles are black with red and white highlights. The Sk8-Hi will be made in black suede with a canvas upper, black laces, a leather side stripe, and the iconic design details in red. The band members’ symbols will also be woven into the inside label. The Era will be made in black leather with those band symbols in white and strategically placed along the upper.
Led Zeppelin just Tweeted about the new kicks on their official band account. An entire capsule collection including long-sleeve tees and adjustable trucker caps are part of the collaborative new line of shoes and apparel. The Vans x Led Zeppelin collaborative collection is scheduled for sale online and at selected Vans retail and wholesale stores beginning February 22; and for a limited time. Each pair purchased comes in a custom shoebox. They’ll also be available through the band’s official website.
If shoes aren’t the thing, fans can buy the band’s new book, Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin. They also created the Misty Mountain Hop snowboard in a collaboration with Burton. The snowboards are priced at $750 and have already sold out, with no certainty that more will be available soon.