Tuesday Shoesday: A Case for Vans

Around this time last year it seemed one in every five girls sported a pair of Stan Smiths. In the preceding year you couldn’t walk three steps without spotting Nike Frees. New Balance kicks shined too. Vans, however, slipped under the “It” moniker of the other fashion-canonized sneakers, and as of yet they haven’t had their trending moment.

That’s not to say they haven’t been interpreted: Céline revamped the classic slip-on with pony hair and plaid. Eytys, a Swedish label, makes lace-ups reminiscent of the California skate shoe. Givenchy crafted a leather version of the checkerboard slip-on, and while J.Crew sells a Vans-collaboration, the actual brand hasn’t had a proper resurgence of its own.

Maybe that’s because Vans never went anywhere to merit the need for a comeback. When Phoebe Philo stepped out to take her bow in a pair of Air Max 90s, she fed right into our 90s nostalgia  Remember those shoes? — and we craved their return in that moment. Vans, however, have long remained a solid staple; they’re comfortable, cheap, durable, easy to wear. And so low-key they’ve been cruising under the radar.

But now that the 1970s are back in full swing (just look at pre-fall), I’m making a case for the originals on behalf of my West Coast roots.

Go for the classic low-top:

Or if high tops are more of your thing, try:

You know a sneaker’s chill when there’s an option for those who hate tying their shoes:

And if you feel short in sneakers, try adding lifts. Voila. DIY Golden Goose.

Like the Z-Boys who popularized them, Vans are quiet contenders and true competitors. Ride or die, always fly.


Forget snow shoes and snow sneakers. Vans — keep doing you, and I’ll keep loving you.

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  • Amelia Diamond

    I have clicked through this slideshow 12345678 times can’t get enough

  • I will always love Vans and I love the slideshow. Feeling seventies vibes all the time.


  • Lulu

    Sneaker heads unite!!!!

  • I’ve been wearing Vans my whole life, including my Scene Queen past life when I had emo bands sign my dotted pink slip-ons. sc3n3 4 Lif3 <3 <3

    • Charlotte Fassler

      I used to write music lyrics on my Converse ~~So EmO~~

  • Vans never went anywhere. It’s always on my radar; I get new Vans every year — sometimes more, but I really don’t need more shoes. Ride or die.

    :] // ▲ itsCarmen.com ▲

  • The thing I love about Vans is that they’re cool for the same reasons today as they were when they were first introduced back in the mid-60s. Instead of using the exclusion factor which I think many brands use to become “cool,” Vans succeeded wildly in not being particularly novel. And I’d like to think this is very much a function of the culture of California. It’s a culture founded on the push and pull of nature and man (we see this in the art of board sports, no doubt), wherein the former (nature) inevitably serves as a the Great Equalizer. All you needed was a little humility, a little curiosity, and you were “in” and ready to experience the wonders of California.

    But maybe that’s just me yearning for a particular interpretation to the Vans heritage. Maybe what’s really manifesting is my homesickness for those boys who used to show up to class late with their hair drenched in saltwater and their feet adorned with loved, beat-up Vans. Sigh.

    • Sorry, Char’s post feels very PeRsOnAl so I thought I’d be a proud Vans Girl:

      • Charlotte Fassler

        U LOOK SO KOOL.

      • aza ziegler

        EMMA. This outfit. Perfect shoes. Spot on slideshow. Everything about this tribute. As I’ve said before Vans perfectly capture the effortlessness of the california lifestyle that is essential in my storytelling. Currently– flipping through some inspiration books on my desk that you may enjoy. California 1970s Culture: Locals Only & Dogtown: The Legend of the Z-boys! Thanks for sending this article my way.

        • aza ziegler

          Oh– and currently wearing blue authentics

        • Charlotte Fassler

          I have Locals Only! It’s so good!

        • Aza!!!! Hey girl…love seeing my California friends in the MR comments section. REPRESENT. Also, you are the ultimate Vans Girl.

      • Allie Fasanella

        Could you be cooler? nope.

      • Lulu

        On point Hager!

      • need to be emma hager when i grow up

    • aly

      i feel you. that right there is the essence of california.

    • Jill

      Growing up in Phoenix in the late Seventies and Eighties, all of our fashion cues came from SoCal. California was so COOL to us land-locked kids, and Vans were a part of that. Naturally, inexpensively, nostalgically a part of that. Before California living got too spendy for most of the rest of the country, before the huge political divisiveness, when you just would live your life and….y’know…surf.Or skate. Or go to the beach (for us, on vacations). I haven’t had a pair of Vans since my early college days (long ago) but I had them all through high school, doodled on the white rubber outers, wore them until they were no longer wearable. A few years ago my husband convinced me to get some custom made, we chose pattern and style on the Vans web site. They’re still just as awesome, and will always represent to me a vanished period in time (assuming that existed outside of my own imagination, of course).

  • Cinamaron

    I have a pair of black suede King sneakers from Kenneth Cole that are basically the same as the slip-on Van sneakers. I love them to death (PLUS I got them for like $30 so even more love) and have been wearing them constantly. However, there are two problems with them:

    A. They are suede and I am not responsible enough to own anything suede, ESPECIALLY shoes. Shoes touch the ground, and the ground is something suede just shouldn’t be around.

    B. If we’re being really honest and candid here, they make my feet feel sweaty and gross :(. I don’t wear them with socks, which is def. part of the problem but I feel like you can’t wear sneakers like this with socks. I am not sure what to do about this besides having to keep them on all day until I get home which is hard for me.

    Weirdly enough I don’t think I’ve ever owned a pair of real Vans, which is something I should probably change. Especially after seeing this slideshow!

    • Charlotte Fassler

      Sometimes I wear those ped socks like these http://bit.ly/1tmdTKD to combat the sweaty feet issue.

      However that is the great thing about vans (of the non-suede variety), you can throw them in the wash! Or replace them when they become grody because they aren’t too pricey

      • Cinamaron

        I had no idea they made socks that tiny! Thanks for the recommendation, something like that would really help. And getting real, non-suede Vans sounds like an even better idea now re: washing them.

  • andrea raymer

    I have been thinking about digging out my lime green and turquoise checkerboard slip ons from the eighth grade. Those were the only vans I ever personally owned because my mother was of the camp that says you should only have one pair of sneakers at a time. they were always around at my high school because I lived at the beach and everyone liked to pretend that they were surfers even thought it was the east coast and it wasn’t really a thing that people did.

  • aly

    Been a huge Vans fan my whole life (NorCal born and raised). While the majority of my west coast peers own at least 1 pair, this is one of the few brands you might say hasn’t made the full transition east yet.

  • Pelsa

    Vans – my absolute favorite. Been rebuying vans originals in blacks for years now


  • AlexaJuno

    Black and white, checkered slip ons have been my jam since high school. I always have a pair on hand.

  • Yeah, Vans don’t need to come back because they never went anywhere!


  • stephanie

    Vans always and forever!

  • eleanor

    oh my gosh, at my Australian high school the year before last, pretty much everyone was wearing all black low top Vans – I mean ev-er-yone. they are super cool, though 🙂

  • Bought a pair of old skool skate vans last year and I haven’t looked back. Best sneakers around

  • parkzark

    YES! I kinda wanna be super prep star and get the j crew ones. Awesome piece, Charlotte.

  • Lili

    Exactly. They don’t need a comeback because they never went anywhere. Everywhere sells Vans and everyone wears them. They’ve been my staple tennis shoe for the past 10 years!

  • This is THE best video I never see in my Life bye Mr. Professor Roberto Scala

  • lemkam

    I remember my first pair in 1982 – purple in the middle and black at the front and back. And let’s not forget the checkerboard shoelaces or purple and blue metallic shoelaces, because a girl had to have options. Thirty-three years later and if I could fit into them and they hadn’t fallen apart, they would still be in style. They are for the girl who isn’t “trying-to-hard-to-be-cool-by-looking-too-put-together-effortless.”

  • Vans are my favorite shoe and I wear them almost exclusively in the summer as I am always out and walking miles. They are so cool and the slop ons are my favorites. Like me something that spawned from that era can be relentlessly cool no matter what era it is.

    Accidental Icon

  • Hannah Cole

    Long live vans! ❤️