The year is 1966, America is embroiled in Vietnam, Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman founded Nike two years prior in Eugene, Ore. and almost exactly 888 miles down the western coast of the United States, the Van Doren brothers are striking gold, or rubber if you will, as they introduce the world to Vans. Their first day included 12 pairs of shoes, ordered, made, and delivered in the first 24 commercial hours in existence. Their local Anaheim success was an omen of what was to come: a future foretold where the best Vans shoes are some of the best damn skate shoes on the market.
The humble garage setup was just the beginning as the brand, and their iconic rubber waffle outsole, continued to craft new silhouettes, slowly but surely altering the skateboard and lifestyle footwear landscape. The Sk8-Hi, Slip-On Classic, and others all became essential equipment for the uniform of a 70s SoCal teen in the know.
Sooner than later the whole country, not to mention the world, knew the phrase “Off The Wall”. The brand is a powerhouse. Executing simple black/white colorways on its top models, it collaborated with other skate staples like Thrasher magazine, Supreme, and others who perfectly paralleled the unbuyable “cool” that the brand continues to deliver on a steady basis.
While cool factor is incalculable, we did our best to take a look at 15 of the best Vans shoes, from the perfect wide soled skate silhouette to one-of-a-kind collabs, our list does its best to draw some conclusions about a brand that was never worried about being ranked.