A lot of times, brands always try to release a completely new silhouette in hopes of establishing the model as a new classic iconic silhouette, but fall short in delivering a product with the brand’s DNA that core skaters fell in love with from the beginning. But then there’s Vans. A brand who has an iconic, timeless, product line foundation that includes the Slip-On, Old Skool, Era, and Sk8-Hi. These four silhouettes have carried the brand throughout multiple generations, cultural circles, and also the history of skateboarding. So instead of releasing something that was built on the silhouette of their iconic shoe, but has so many bells and whistles it looks like a new model, Vans decided to stick with their iconic style, and engineer it specifically for skateboarding. From the surface, Vans’ new Skate Classics look like the same shoes we all fell in love wearing, skating and styling. But underneath, they’ve upgraded structural elements, reinforced areas of wear and have created a classic silhouette that can take on the modern day skate abuse. We were lucky to get our hands on not only one of the models, but THREE of them, which included the Slip Ons, Era and Old Skool and are adapted with all the brand new skate classic features. Each model was skated for 10 hours; read on below to see how the classic icons get beefed up for today’s level of skating!
In general, the Vans Skate Classic models fit true to size, however, we would recommend to go half size up with the Slip-Ons.
When it comes to durability, the Vans Skate Classics feature improved uppers and soles. While checking out the upper first, all three model were consistent in using suede in the areas most critical for wear and tear. But there’s more than meets the eyes; underneath the first level of suede, Vans adds DURACAP, which is a rubber reinforcement layer under the main material. This aims to increase durability and adds a twang of structural stability, where most single upper suede pieces may get a hole. After the 10-hour test, the suede upper of all models showed minor signs of wear which resulted in a very good durability performance. The most noticeable wear was with the Old Skool’s canvas midfoot panel. The canvas wore out but there was the DURACAP rubber panel underneath it that helped prolong the shoe’s durability. With that said, the reason for the great upper durability performance actually starts from the sole construction. The pictures show that most signs of wear are directed around the sole area. For these Skate Classic models, the foxing tapes of the models have also increased in height. This small details helps immensely since the sole is the main point of contact to the griptape and also stands to protect the upper suede panels. Unfortunately, Vans’ iconic checkerboard flags did not survive the wear test for the Era and Slip-ons. All in all, due to the upper and sole construction, the durability of the Vans Skate Classics are improved and evaluated as very good.
The cushioning of the Vans Skate Classics was slightly above average. The main cushioning element is the insole is Vans’ POPCUSH foam. As for the sole construction, the outsole is very thin, as usual for vulcanized constructions, with POPCUSH as the main element used for combating impact with its thick insole foam. This helps keep the flexibility of the sole high while providing a foamy cushioning feeling. All in all, having a foam insole definitely has advantages for vulcanized soles but cannot compete with a good cupsole.
The shape and silhouette of the Skate Classic models have improved but in very small details. The upper patterns feel slightly tighter and closer to the feet, but all designs maintain their classic and iconic look. This is still your classic Vans model.
As vulcanized models, the Vans Skate Classics have a heavy emphasis on boardfeel and grip. Although cushioning is important, Vans made sure to not over do the shoe with cushioning elements in order to retain the original boardfeel of the models. The shoes have thin soles and its simplicity help to create enough flexibility so that the feet feel extremely close to the foot. As for grip, the shoes have a traditional Vans outsole thread pattern design and the material is Vans’ SICKSTICK gum rubber. One improvement of the Skate Classic line is a deeper tread pattern of the sole which effectively increases the longevity of the sole. Nothing much to say about Vans grip, which is still excellent and un-touched in the skateboard footwear industry.
The Vans Skate Classics offer very good comfort and stability. Since the shoes have a slim silhouette in combination with a locked-in tongue straps, the foot feels very close to the upper and minimizes the space for the foot to slip around. The material choice in the heel area is great. It is a leather material which almost grips the ankle, preventing a slippage feeling. Although all Skate Classics models gradually become softer over time, they maintain their structural strength throughout the whole time skating, especially in the heel area. The key to its great stability performance lies within the sole. Vans added an internal heel stiffening element which helps the vulcanized sole to keep its stability over a longer time. Also, the high and wide foxing tape which is also attached to the upper, adds a very stable feeling for all of the tested models.
The Vans Skate Classic was a hit; the improved technical elements of the shoe was excellent for durability, comfort, grip and board feel, while cushioning could be improved more. With that said, the Vans Skate Classics is a huge step in the right direction when it comes to maintaining authenticity over bells and whistles.