A History Of Vans

Goodhood store talks to East London based collector Henry Davies about his love for Vans. An authentics guide to Vans from the Era to the Half Cab.

GH: What is it about Vans that attracted you to them in the first place?

HD: Part of it is that southern Californian thing, it just resonates everything that that time encapsulated; surf, skate, snow, bmx, everything about that. The sun, the beach. More than anything it’s the shoes, the quality, the shape and the integrity of the product.

GH: Tell us about the shape and that integrity, could you show us some?

HD: These were all vulcanized, all made by hand. Volcanisation is a method of bonding the rubber to the uppers. They cook the rubber in huge ovens and it creates this amazing bond, which creates like a tacky sticky rubber and an incredible bond between the upper and the sole. They still Vulcanize but the methods have changed a lot, the raw material has changed and so it’s a different shoe, really. This is pure crepe rubber, whereas a lot of companies now add fillers which means it’s a lot weaker and inflexible.

GH: And what about the shape?

HD: So the last that they used classically was slimmer, a bit more narrow with lots more tapering and a pointed toe. If you look at the shape of the sole and it’s the way the foot is shaped – back in the day if you had a problem cos they were too narrow you could get a custom fit. They’ve gone for one size fits all but by nature they’ve missed the curves. There’s a bit of warping, I think they always came like that a little bit. I think it’s a by-product of the rubber compound, I like to think that the rubber has a life of its own, it’s almost live. So it contracts and then when its warmed again when you wear them it’ll flatten out and really kind of shape to your foot… it’s a sign of quality. The one above is from ’88 I think, and again was one of the first black options.

Read the complete interview here.