When it comes to skateboarding - there's nothing more classic than Vans. First making big waves in the 1980s, Vans has gone on to become one of the biggest brands in the skate world.
We reviewed millions of different options, and were able to determine the 10 best Vans shoes on the market today. So without further ado, let's get into it - here is everything you need to know.
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3 best Vans shoes
Vans Old Skool
- Why it's rad: The original, and still the best.
- Buy at Amazon
Vans Slip-On Low-Top Trainers
- Why it's rad: A great looking shoe, that will withstand a beating.
- Buy at Amazon
Vans Sk8 Hi
- Why it's rad: Another sick shoe from Vans, perfect for skating.
- Buy at Amazon
What Do Vans Stand For?
The company was originally called something much more industrial (and boring) - Van Doren Rubber. They mostly made deck shoes from canvas, which had grippy soles made from rubber.
Customers would frequently say they wanted to go to Vans to get shoes - so the company took the nickname and renamed the company. Now most people know the brand from their trademark checkered shoes.
Why Are Vans Popular?
Vans are insanely popular - and with good reason. Not only they are highly affordable (a big part of the appeal), they can be purchased anywhere, they go with almost any outfit, and they're unisex.
This means that anyone can wear a pair of Vans. They also don't slap their logo all over everything, so you won't look like you're wearing an advertisement.
Who Made Vans Famous?
Vans first became famous by driving famous skaters (like Tony Hawk) around in a van, and giving them free sneakers. They looked at it as a great investment, since they then had access to the entire skate community - which was exploding at the time.
They then developed skate-specific shoes - the first one being called the Era. As skaters everywhere started to wear Vans, they had sort of a viral marketing campaign going.
Famous shoes from this era also include the Old Skool, and the Sk8-Hi. The skate scene was small then, compared to now, but it was a very tight-knit community.
In the 1980s, Fast Times At Ridgemont High had Spiccoli wearing Vans slip-on shoes. This made Vans ultra-popular - but even with non-skaters, this time.
This is the checkerboard Vans slip-on that has become their defining shoe - which everyone now knows. However, in the 80s, the company overextended - trying to be as big as Nike and Adidas - and had to file for bankruptcy protection, before being sold.
But the 1990s was a time of turnaround for Vans, as once again the company flourished. The company IPO'd, and also partnered with the Warped Tour - a partnership which is still going on today.
Vans was purchased once again in 2004, this time by VF, who also own Timberland, Nautica, The North Face, and others. But the brand has continued to thrive because of its authenticity.
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Why Do They Call Them Vans?
The found of the company is Paul Van Doren - who originally named the company The Van Doren Rubber Company. When customers kept saying 'they were going to go to Van's to get shoes' - the company shortened their name.
Vans was also one of the first brands (if not the first) to sell skateboard-specific shoes. This authenticity has helped lend lots of credibility to the brand, and is part of why it continues to be so popular.
What Is The Origin Of The Vans Logo?
The first Vans logo was made by the son of the founder, Paul Van Doren. He wanted the logo to be on skateboards, but the founder thought it would look great on shoes.
When the company started to take off, the logo became famous. Nowadays, the simple and clean logo is synonymous with skateboarding.
What Are Vans Made Of?
Vans shoes are typically made from rubber, suede, and/or canvas. Like most skate shoes, it isn't unique materials that make them special, but rather the design and comfort.
Skate shoes are more durable in key areas, and usually have double or triple stitching to protect against ollies, grip tape, heel flips, and kick flips. Vans has also become very popular as a fashion type of brand, with many celebrities, musicians, and actors wearing Vans just so they can "look cool".
What Are Some Of The Colors Of Vans?
Vans shoes come in a wide variety of colors, but black and white are the main colors that consumers seem to flock to. The classic Vans shoes were black and white originally, way back in the 1970s, so this isn't surprising.
It's almost become a status symbol, in some circles, to wear the old school Vans shoes. Celebrities and musicians (like Frank Ocean), ever wear Vans shoes to formal, serious events.
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How Does Vans's Company Make Money?
Vans makes a boatload of cash from selling sneakers, in huge quantities. They have moved their production overseas, so their costs are low.
They have also increased the prices for their shoes, so formerly cheap pairs are now a little more expensive. While most consumers won't balk at a $10 price increase, this small change means the company makes hundreds of millions more.
What Is The Most Popular Style Of Vans?
The Old Skool may be the most popular style of Vans. However, the classic slip-on is also very popular.
It really depends on what type of activity you are doing, that will correspond with the right pair of Vans. We wouldn't recommend wearing slip-ons for skateboarding, as they will not really stay on well enough to perform complex tricks.
Where Are They Made?
While some Vans are made in the USA, most are now manufactured overseas. This includes, China, Serbia, Vietnam, Turkey, Cambodia, and Bulgaria.
Vans were originally made in Anaheim, California, but this process ended a while ago. It's also much cheaper to manufacture shoes overseas, which is why Vans moved their production to these other locations.
What Is The Difference Between A Vans Shoe And A Regular Shoe?
Vans shoes made their name as a brand that only made skateboarding-specific shoes - so they are specifically constructed to withstand the rigors of the board. However, some of Vans most popular designs are not skateboarding shoes at all - like the classic slip-on.
The shoes that are specifically made for skateboarding, feature more durable soles, and stronger areas that will withstand ollies, kick flips, and other tricks. Regular sneakers will work for skateboarding, but they aren't really going to last as long as shoes that are specifically designed for boarding.
When Were Vans Created?
Vans was founded in 1966. However, the brand didn't really take off until skateboarding culture adopted the brand as their own - which was in the 1970s.
Vans had a bit of a lull in the 1980s, but then boomed again in the 90s. After another downturn in the early 2000s, Vans are now a billion dollar company, which specializes in its original, old school designs.
Is Vans Owned By Nike?
No, Vans is not owned by Nike. It is owned by VF corporation, who also own Nautica, The North Face, and many other brands.
10 Best Vans Shoes
These classic shoes are one of the ones that put Vans on the map. With a perfect construction, and an affordable price - it's easy to see why.
We've skated for thousands of hours with these shoes - and they always hold up. No matter what color you pick, these are a stone cold classic.
The famous shoes worn by Spicoli in Fast Times At Ridgemont High, these shoes have withstood the test of time. Around 40 years later, and they're still insanely popular.
Celebrities, actors, and other entertainers have all adopted these shoes. While we don't recommend skating in them, they are perfect for everyday use.
With tons of great reviews, these high top sneakers are another awesome pair from Vans. We love how they protect your ankles - plus they just look downright cool.
A staple and a classic, it's hard to beat this pair. We highly recommend them - no matter how good (or bad) you are at skating.
With tons of great reviews, and a killer price point - these are another one of our favorite pairs. Vans really outdid themselves with these minimal classics.
They offer comfort, style, and an extraordinary value. We've beat up our pair to kingdom come - and they skill keep on ticking, no matter what we throw at them.
These cool colored shoes are great for wearing around - to any event. They're also backed by a ton of great reviews, so you can feel very comfortable making a purchase.
We wouldn't recommend skating in them, since they can come off. However, they are perfect for any other pursuit you can think of.
These awesome high tops are perfect for skating. They'll protect your feet and ankles, plus you'll look cool in the process.
While you can certainly get flashier shoes, these are a perfect choice for anyone who loves old school vibes. Retro, durable - and highly recommended.
These low tops are perfect for nearly any activity. We love them for lounging around in, as well as skateboarding.
Vans rarely misses (let's not talk about the 80s...) - and this is yet another winner. Highly recommended, and backed by a ton of great reviews.
These classic slip-ons are great for kicking back. We don't really recommend them for skating, since they may come off.
However, celebrities like Frank Ocean like to wear these just about anywhere. It's easy to see why - they're sleek, minimalist, and stylish.
These awesome sneakers are backed by a ton of five star reviews. We like the brown and marshmallow combination best, but there are lots of other choices.
If you need a sneaker you can wear to more formal events, but still want to kick it, street style - we recommend this pair. They're just formal enough, while still keeping their edgy feel.
This classic sneaker from Vans comes in a huge variety of colors. It's also very affordable, and is backed by a ton of stellar reviews.
It's truly hard to beat this sneaker, and it's easy to see why Vans has been on top of the shoe game for so long. Simple, minimalist, and classic - it's yet another winner in the Vans catalog.
Other Factors To Consider
Vans makes women’s shoes, t-shirts, low-tops, high tops, and the brand has been a classic since forever. Vans authentic brand has made them continually popular - even with consumers who are not into action sports.
Vans ’Off The Wall’ slogan started as a way to say skaters were going to do tricks off the wall of an empty pool. Now, with House of Vans and other projects, Vans classic approach to culture is very popular.
There aren’t that many new arrivals for Vans, but the Vans Sk8-Hi, the Vans Old Skool, and classic Vans sneakers continue to sell like hotcakes. Other competitors like Converse have also continued to stay popular over time, but they lack the authentic skate culture of Vans - as well as other extreme sports, like BMX biking.
The Vans X lines continue to keep the brand current, with collaborations like Stranger Things. The Vans Warped Tour has also been a very effective collaboration, since way back in 1995.
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The Bottom Line On The Best Vans
There you have it, all the information about Vans. This tiny company transformed itself into a global phenomenon, all on the back of skateboarding.
While many others now wear Vans shoes, they built the brand off of skateboarding. The awesome Vans skatepark in southern California is a testament to the authenticity and legitimacy of the company.