The winning design. (Photo: Contributed)

A team of students from Hixson High School has taken their custom designed Vans shoes to the top spot in the nation in the Vans Custom Culture competition.

The student’s creative work on the shoe designs featuring some of Chattanooga’s top landmarks wowed the nation-wide voters to win the competition’s grand prize of $75,000.  The prize money will benefit the Hixson art department.

“The prize money will be put to good use, providing much-needed pottery wheels, easels, and digital equipment for art students,” said Katie Claiborne, an art teacher at Hixson. “I want to give a huge thank you to the creative students, Vans, and all of the wonderful people who voted for our project.“


The Vans Custom Culture team treated the entire Hixson student body and staff to lunch and a special concert Thursday morning. Vans also present the grand prize check.

Vans visits Hixson High today to present the grand prize check of $75,000. (Photo: Contributed)

The entries the Hixson students designed are two pairs of Vans shoes with this year’s contest themes “Local Flavor” and “Off the Wall.” Vans sends out shoes to all the participants, requesting them to create designs fitting the two themes.

For Local Flavor, the Hixson High students highlight iconic sights and symbols of the Greater Chattanooga area. The shoes represent Ruby Falls, Rock City, the Incline Railway, the Choo Choo, Point Park, and cultural icons like the Delta Queen and the Cherokee water spider. The Tennessee River can also be seen coursing over both shoes.

In the Off the Wall design, students built platforms to create a cavern underneath. The cave is lit by fairy lights, making the cast resin crystals gleam. Mushrooms dot the subterranean landscape, and a monster defends his treasures. Moss encircles the trim of the shoes, providing a smooth transition from top to bottom. Living plants are placed inside the shoes, while artificial sprouts pop up near the toe.

The students involved in decorating the shoes were Charlie Dickerson, Alia Smith, Michaela Roberts, Logan Summers, Addison Flannigan, Luke Pfennig, Jade Sharp, Amy Gonzales, Sarah Bargerstock, Josh Green, Tori Gifford, Jocelyn Salter, Suhani Patel, Amanda Lin and Devin Goforth.