Think Vans shoes and you imagine a kid in the Californian sun, a boy with shoulder length hair that has been bleached by the constant hot weather, wearing board shorts and a toothy grin, with a skateboard tucked underneath his arm. While not high catwalk fashion, there’s no denying that Vans is an important street footwear brand emblematic of the skateboarding counterculture since the 1960s and 60s.
The first Vans shoe to roll off the factory machine was designed specifically for skateboarding. The #44 (or the Authentic, as it’s now known) had a waffle bottom designed to help the shoe stick to the skateboard, as well as a vulcanised sole to be more flexible. The shoe is still in production today, exactly how it was nearly 50 years ago. The company continued to make skate shoes, but have since broadened out into other action sports including BMX, surf and snow. Many of their shoes have become popular just as fashion statements.
Whether worn on the feet of skateboarders or by anyone with a youthful, relaxed, casual style, Vans have now become synonymous with streetwear. However, this doesn’t stop higher end fashion designers acknowledging their importance. Last spring, Kenzo collaborated with Vans and released limited edition series of their shoes. Brightly coloured, net and floral patterned, the Vans era shoes were sold in high-end retail stores such as Harvey Nichols.
Now making many different styles of shoe (most adapted by successful skateboarders themselves), Vans shoes are produced in a wide variety of colours and patterns. Available in all good skate stores, like Vans shoes Skate Hut, Vans are stocked in general shoe stores too, as well as directly from the manufacturers themselves, just like in the good old days.