Neil Schambra Stevens has run the gamut of marketing roles from handling PR at Pepe Jeans to brand development at Converse before dipping into consultancy roles and then a stint at computing firm, Lenovo. He returned to fashion and footwear at Vans in 2014 and is this year overseeing the brand’s 50th anniversary celebrations. He believes creativity comes from “serendipitous moments versus carefully crafted thinking” and says you are on to a winner if you can embrace and harness those moments. “For example, in the 1960s surf legend Duke Kahanamoku gave Vans’ founder Paul Van Doren a Hawaiian shirt, [which Van Doren repaid with] a pair of one-off shoes for Duke – and customisation was born,” he says.
Biggest challenge: “The balancing act of staying relevant with your target consumer’s digital behaviour without compromising who you are as a brand.”