Vans were and are the only pair of shoes ever worth owning
We grew up wearing them
The first time you went to a house party, your first kiss and the first time you drank too much and passed out under a tree in your mate’s back garden. All occasions likely lent support by a sturdy pair of Vans. You didn’t know if your night would end in a confusing encounter with a bra strap or in a shoving match with the rugby team from the local grammar school. Your Vans gave you the bravery to confront the unknown and go where none had gone before, sort of. As you navigated adolescence a pair of Vans held your hands/feet all the way.
My first pair of Vans were canvas slip ons. The canvas was green, printed with repeating pattern monkeys. The monkeys were holding a banana and riding a skateboard. The detailing around the shoe was purple. They were, in truth, the best pair of shoes I have ever owned. They were worn until the little rips appeared in the material on either side of your foot, the area where the shoe bent with every step. Then they were worn until the canvas was a loose flap secured in only a few places, but they weren’t consigned to the bin. They’re still in my wardrobe now.
As well as helping you to look dapper, Vans were also practical. Wembley Doubles. You’ve made it to the final round. The final fucking round. Net has thrown the ballon wide and you’ve collected it from its resting place against the park fence. You roll it out from beneath your feet and look up to see Charlie making a run to the back post. The connection is clean and the curl is wicked. Charlie does his best to make a meal of it but manages to score off the crossbar. Glory is yours and John from next door hangs his head in disappointment. Fuck you John, I never liked you.
Some of us preferred the more audacious Vans offering, others the simple black and white checker. Both as iconic and reliable as the other. Times have since changed. Cannabis-leaf-adorned slip ons are not as popular as they once were but Vans are still. A collab with Gosha Rubchinskiy created shoes that are the envy of any sneaker head. Slip ons have given way to high tops, lace ups and sneakers. The style has changed but the brand is timeless.