The Foundation: Vans Slip-On
The Foundation: Vans Slip-On
- Words Grailed Team
- Date July 10, 2019
We understand that each wardrobe is as different as the person wearing it, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things that find a place in every closet. Regardless of how you view your personal style, the guidance outlined in this series should help set the bedrock for every closet. With classic design and ageless appeal, garments featured in "The Foundation" are easy to assimilate style staples that are sure to be worn on a regular basis. Advice found in this column should become tenets to dress by—no matter where you are in your style journey.
In the sneaker world, there’s a selection of silhouettes that are so iconic, they’re often flipped, reworked and straight-up reproduced by several brands into ubiquity. That’s not to say you should sleep on these specific styles; if anything, it’s more of an indication that your wardrobe isn’t complete without these sneakers. The way to avoid getting finessed, is to always opt for the original (which, for what it’s worth, usually serves up the best iteration at the most justifiable price). A perfect example of this? The Vans Slip-On.
Started in California in 1966, Vans rapidly expanded as a southern California skate scene icon in the early 1970s, thanks to shoes like the Authentic and the Era—which people of all walks still wear today. The Slip-On (known internally as “Style #98”) arrived during one of Vans’ earlier golden ages, hitting the streets for the first time in 1977. While virtually little more than a three-piece canvas upper on top of a vulcanized rubber sole, the silhouette’s simplicity made it an instant favorite among skaters and non-skaters alike. While the Slip-On had regional popularity, it was its cameo on Sean Penn in 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High that sent the Slip-On into the cultural stratosphere. The film didn’t just help expose the Slip-On to the wider public, it also cemented the checkerboard upper as the Slip-On’s signature upper style, and help pave the way for the shoe as a canvas for a myriad of future collaborations and graphic reinterpretations.
Hammering on about the Slip-On’s simplicity, you’d be right to assume that we’d suggest these sneakers for damn near any ensemble you’re thinking of pairing them with. Jeans and T-shirt for weekend wear? Absolutely. Business casual at the office? Of course. Suited up? It’s certainly been done successfully. The only advice we can think to impart has less to do with the Slip-On and more to do the pants you pair them with. While this will largely vary based on the leg opening of your pants, it could be said that—like an adidas Stan Smith—the Slip-On will make your feet smaller and slimmer. While this looks normal with slimmer jeans and shorts, the effect can look at little out of place with wide-legged pants—just something to keep in mind.
Even though the Slip-On originally gained traction thanks to its grip tape-worthy sole, it’s obvious that its simplicity has made it an easy aesthetic addition into the closet of guys around the world. That global appeal has made it an easy target for both streetwear-adjacent labels and luxury houses alike. While the latter often rebuild Vans’ original edition with premium leathers and colorful soles, it’s hard to top Vans’ pedestrian editions—both in terms of quality and cultural credibility. We think it’s best to opt for the classic uppers for peak practicality (all white, all black or the aforementioned black and white checkerboard), the sheer variety of colors and collaborators make Vans’ version superior regardless of personal style.
Want to learn more about Vans’ history? Study up on the brand here.
Interested in more than just the Slip-On? Shop Grailed’s selection of Vans here.