Be it at the skatepark or the boardroom, there is one debate that has yet to be concluded: Vans vs Converse, which is better? These U.S.-based sneaker brands have dominated the affordable streetwear and athleisure markets for at least 114 years. Dressed both up and down, these sneakers are a common sight in professional arenas, classrooms, malls, and more. Regardless of which you own or prefer, here is an in-depth comparison and style guide of both to help put the age-old Vans vs Converse debate into perspective.
Brief History of Vans
The esteemed Van Doren Rubber Company originally began in 1966. It was founded by two brothers, Paul Van Doren and Jim Van Doren alongside partners Gordon Lee and Serge Delia. The company which was first distinguished by its promise to manufacture shoes on-premise and sell them directly to the public – later became officially known as the ‘House of Vans’.
This nickname was coined in the early ‘70s by Southern California skateboarders who liked Vans’ rugged make-up and sticky sole. Besides introducing consumers to the novelty of ordering and receiving shoes within the same day, Vans was also the first company to debut the first shoe designed for skateboarding by skateboarders.
Today, the House of Vans is lionized across the world, skateboarders and trendsetters of every ethnicity partaking in its rugged culture. Vans can now be seen on the feet of almost anyone from the youth, to the working class, and even high-flying athletes, celebrities, and socialites.
How To Wear Vans
Despite being heavily influenced by skate culture, Vans has successfully maintained its mainstream relevance by creating a slew of fashionable and iconic footwear and apparel. Some of which include the Vans Classic Slip-Ons, Vans Sk8-Hi, and Vans Old Skool sneaker – which in recent years have grown to be three of the brand’s best-selling lines.
The Old Skool sneakers, in particular, are not only revered for their vintage-inspired designs and low-profile suede material but for their wide range of colors and intricate detailing. These sneakers are easy to pair and are easily recognizable thanks to the sleek side stripe on their upper. Due to their immense popularity and versatile nature, men of any age can get away with sporting these shoes during both formal and informal occasions.
As a rule of thumb, take note that low-rise Vans sneakers are typically paired with longer socks in creative designs. For an edgier look, consider pairing your Old Skool sneakers with deconstructed jeans and an oversized graphic tee, or a pair of loose-fit cargo pants. Subsequently, during formal occasions, pair your neutral-colored Vans with a classic collared shirt or buttoned-down oxford and skinny jeans for the best result. You can also use these sneakers to dress down formal trousers. Just remember to cuff the hems to complete the look.
Alternatively, trendsetters may opt for the Vans Sk8-Hi for a more youthful and chic look. With a boot-like design, these high-top sneakers will pair well with any formal look, while still promising the mobility and comfort of a casual runner.
Pros and Cons of Vans
✔️ Durable and Longlasting
One of the most distinguishing qualities of every Vans shoe is its enhanced durability for long-lasting use. All Vans shoes are characterized by the textured waffling on each sole which ensures traction under any circumstance. These are the best shoes to use not only for skating but also for exercise and during rainy weather. These affordable yet quality sneakers provide great value for money and can last for at least one to two years with minimal cleaning and maintenance.
Available in a wide variety of ready-to-wear colors, cuts, and designs, the Vans shoe is highly customizable. Not only can you style these sneakers in numerous ways, but the brand also encourages avid supporters and enthusiasts to design their very own unique pair from scratch. This can be done through the brand’s official website and the service is not limited to sneakers only.
✔️ Functional and Comfortable
Besides the added style benefits and respect one can command when wearing a pair of Vans, the shoes actually serve their purpose without compromising comfort. Go for a skate, a run, a hike, a walk in the park, or even an office meeting in any one of their snug designs. Thanks to their thinner fabric and thick soles, a Vans shoe is the perfect option for navigating rough terrain. It remains breathable even after extensive use and does not require a break-in period. In other words, Vans wearers are often spared from uncomfortable friction-inflicted blistering.
X Not Suitable For Everyone
Yes, men of all ages can wear a Vans shoe but that doesn’t mean everyone should. Individuals with flatfeet, foot-related injuries, or other anomalies may consider avoiding the footwear aspect of the brand entirely. This is because Vans sneakers have thin insoles with minimal arch support. In other words, while it may eventually conform to your feet, the flat soles may worsen pre-existing foot conditions. Individuals with flatfeet, in particular, should look for sneakers with enhanced arches to limit the pronation of their feet.
Brief History of Converse
Deemed the number one competitor of Vans, Converse was established in 1908 by Marquis Mills. Originally known as the ‘Converse Rubber Shoe Company’, this brand has long specialized in creating rubber-soled footwear for men, women, and children. Despite the brand’s original business model, Converse eventually pivoted its focus to crafting high-grade athletic shoes in 1915.
Not by any means an overnight success, Converse only created its first groundbreaking design in 1921, with the help of Charles H. “Chuck” Taylor. The world-renowned ‘All Star’ shoe, which now bears the name of its maker, dominated the basketball sneaker market for over 30 years. Though its success didn’t stop there. Today, the Chuck Taylor All Star is a subcultural icon that some of the biggest celebrities in the world wear religiously. These celebrities include Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Wiz Khalifa, The Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols, and The Ramones.
Available in an array of vibrant designs and colorways, with a slew of star-studded collaborations, the Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers are just one of many historic and emblematic creations by Converse. Despite this, many still lionize the pair as the crowning glory of the brand with over 100 years of mainstream influence.
How To Wear Converse
When it comes to styling a pair of Converse, it is important to first assess the style of your sneaker. Similar to Vans, high-top and low-top Converse sneakers serve different purposes and complete entirely separate looks.
The full black, full white, and black and white high-top Converse sneakers are arguably the brand’s most recognizable designs. The designs are also some of the most versatile. They can help complete edgy, relaxed, and business casual outfits.
To style, simply pair these sneakers with any pair of slim or regular-fit pants and layer loose fits over one another. For further inspiration, consider layering loose t-shirts of different textures and lengths. Then, top it off with a slightly cropped bomber jacket. This will make the ideal streetwear-inspired casual fit.
For more formal occasions, dress up your low-top Converse with a casual blazer-and-pant suit or slim chinos in neutral tones and dark hues. Opt for more contouring fits for a clean silhouette and avoid dressing in all black. Adding a pop of color can help keep your overall aesthetic looking chic and modern.
Pros and Cons of Converse
✔️ Versatile and Customizable
All converse shoes, especially the Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers pair well with almost any style of clothing. Besides the wide range of ready-to-wear colors and designs available, Converse also encourages enthusiasts and casual wearers to create their own custom sneakers from scratch. Consumers can even print their original artworks on the shoes, and choose from a diverse variety of shoelaces.
✔️ Affordable, Comfortable and Durable
Much like Vans, Converse offers consumers a wide range of stylish designs at affordable prices. These shoes are easily attainable and are durable enough for long-term use. Each sneaker is made of heat-resistant materials like suede, leather, and cotton canvas with metal hardware. These materials ensure optimal comfort, breathability, and flexibility to minimize the risk of friction-inflicted blisters.
✔️ Tailor Made
Regardless of the occasion or purpose of wear, all Converse sneakers possess a specific irresistible charm. Thanks to their canvas material, Converse sneakers tend to exude a sense of creativity and individualism. The “loose lining” of its soft canvas is revered for easily conforming to the natural contours of each wearer’s feet. This gives consumers the feeling of owning a bespoke pair without breaking the bank. Sneakerheads are also often seen doodling on their Converse to further personalize each pair.
X Lacks Sufficient Support and Foot Protection
Despite its numerous pros, Converse is indeed lacking in a significant way. Despite the flexibility and comfort, Converse is linked to a series of severe foot-related issues. These include tendonitis, stress fractures, and Plantar fasciitis. In other words, these sneakers are not ideal for extended use. Walking or running in them for long hours at a time, can cause significant discomfort. These sneakers are also unable to protect your feet from natural elements such as rough terrain or harsh weather. They can puncture and soak easily – leaving your feet feeling cold, wet, or in pain.
Vans vs Converse Size Guide
Although both Vans and Converse are U.S.-based brands, the two do not measure the size in the same way. Converse which has a narrower fit typically runs half a size bigger than other mainstream sneaker alternatives. They are noticeably longer than the standard Vans shoe, which runs true to size. As such individuals with wider feet should opt for one size up. While those with narrower feet should choose a full size down for optimal comfort.
Vans vs Converse: Final Verdict
It is true that the Vans vs Converse debate is long from over and highly subjective. While both brands do have immense similarities and are both extremely popular, Vans has indeed proven itself to be the more durable option. It holds up well in unpredictable weather and along rough terrain. All while providing the same level of affordability, accessibility, customization, and style. It is also the ideal choice for prolonged use.
However, regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, it is important to remember that both brands do not provide sufficient foot support. They can also cause or worsen pre-existing foot conditions.
Ultimately, there will be areas where one brand dominates more over the other. Sneaker enthusiasts can rest assured that both will provide the best quality of comfort and wearability for their price. With the help of the tips above, you are sure to look stylish in either brand.