Everyone knows the Vans story. The transcendent Anaheim, California Surf / BMX / Skate brand that finds itself rubbing shoulders with fashions elite as one of the biggest shoe companies on the globe. The question is, what do you know about their most quintessential silhouette, the Slip-On?
Originating in the late 70s the Slip-On ( or 'Style #98' as it was dubbed in line with Vans initial product runs) found it's niche as the urban sports shoe of choice. The ethos of Vans, their leisurely take on shoe production, in line with most Californians leisurely take on life, meant that they were the perfect brand to create the laidback West Coast shoe of choice. Even Sean Penn knew the significance of the silhouette with the wardrobe inclusion of the Slip-On to his 'perpetually stoned surfer'Jeff Spicoli from 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High'.
The renown durability of the waffle sole makers added a pedigree to their minimal masterpiece, offering reinforced heels and toes on top of their patented sole unit. Extreme sports athletes of their time flocked to Vans to pick up the brand new offering from sportswear's enfant terrible. It wasn't just the revolutionary design that captured the masses, it was its reactive addition of the now classic checkerboard design.
The development of the checkerboard came from founder Paul Van Doren's son (and current Vice President) Steve Van Doren, who noticed the customisable ability of the canvas by skaters by way of their artistic renditions on their own shoes, culminating in a mass of DIY checkerboard patterns. Jumping on the craze, Vans offered the pattern as the defacto colourway of the Slip-On, creating simplified block colours as they went along, as well as appropriating the checkerboard pattern to other Vans silhouettes to great effect.
It's not all just checkmates and emo prints though, as Vans have taken the Slip-On into the modern day with great ease, offering updated fabrications, colourways and constructions to make this one of the most versatile offerings in Vans range. But, It's always worth remembering first and foremost that this is a skate shoe, as displayed by Vans pros Kyle Walker and Andrew Allan with their respective pro models. This shoe isn't meant to be kept clean. Browse our best Slip-Ons below!