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What exactly are: Slip-on Vans?

What exactly are: Slip-on Vans?

In a nutshell

Long beloved by skateboarders for their sticky soles, simple construction and ease of throwing on and off, slip-on Vans have morphed into a classic, cult-favourite trainer.


Born in the 1960s at Southern California's Van Doren Rubber Company, Vans were on every skateboarder's feet by the 1970s. They were propelled into the mainstream when Sean Penn wore them in his teenage rebel's uniform in 1982's Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

How to wear them well

Because Vans are rooted in skateboarding in sunny California, they're still more suited to warm weather and casual outfits than any other conditions. "Whenever you wear Vans, you want to strike a balance: keep your look in line with the adventurous, youthful spirit they've always embodied, but also wear clothes that are minimalist and pared back to make the shoes feel more adult," says Thread stylist Freddie Kemp. 

"The combination of slim black jeans, plain white t-shirt and a bomber jacket is just skatery enough, but still mature and quite minimalist. Also, since the colours are neutral, you can choose Vans in a more daring colour if you're feeling adventurous."

Clothes to consider: Black slip-on Vans (£47), Research Garments white t-shirt (£15), Paige black jeans (£208), Whistles black jeans (£80), Folk navy bomber (£270), Original Penguin reversible bomber (£120)