While the descriptor “iconic” gets thrown around a lot these days, the Vans Authentic is certainly deserving of that title. We examine how little this OG sneaker has changed over the decades and why it remains on top today.

Every pair of Vans I’ve ever owned, I cherished and wore lovingly into oblivion. Originally dubbed “Style #44” by Vans in 1966, the Vans Authentic is as simple and understated as a shoe can be. There are no unnecessary details, and it’s an article of footwear that is nearly impervious to criticism.

The Vans Authentic boasts effortless cool factor, a universally liked design, and wearability with nearly any kit. It’s an honest shoe, it’s expendable, and each one is as good as the last. It’s not frivolous, it’s dependable, and it has made a tangible contribution to contemporary culture. It will never sell out, it’s affordable, and impervious to hype. Weather permitting, you could wear it every single day of the year, something I would gladly do. You can dress it up or wear it casually, whether you’re 9 years old or 90, whether you’re in grade school or you’re Kanye West. In short, it’s a shoe that can be your best friend, over and over again. It is truly authentic.

In a lot of ways, there are comparisons to be made between the Vans Authentic and the Porsche 911. Vans got it right the first time, just like Porsche did, and both silhouettes have not warranted much change over the decades. As the epitomes of each respective brand, a form-follows-function philosophy can be found at the nucleus of both the 911 – designed under Ferdinand Porsche – and the Authentic – designed under Paul van Doren. Additionally, Porsche and Vans have both used these designs as blueprints for other products. The German automotive marque has imbued 911-like styling in models such as the Boxster and Caymen, while the quintessential California skate brand has used the Authentic DNA for releases like the iconic Vans Era in 1975, which went on to become the footwear choice for a generation of skateboarders.

When a padded collar and “Off the Wall” branding were added to the fundamental Vans Authentic silhouette in 1976, the first ever skateboarding shoe was born as the Vans Era, and this is the shoe that that the godfathers of skateboarding – Stacy Peralta, Tony Alva and the Z-Boys – were winning competitions with.

Me IRL. Turkish camouflage. #vandoren.

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The shoe has resonated loudly through skateboarding culture, as well as punk rock, hip-hop, emo, streetwear, and even with guys whose girlfriends tell them what to buy. It has set the stage for EYTYSCOMME des GARÇONS as well as Saint Laurent to create their own interpretations of the shoe. It is innately and ubiquitously a dope sneaker, and brands including Supreme, Liberty London, Disney, and Kenzo have all provided strong co-signs further lofting the Authentic silhouette as un-fuckable-wit.

This is why the Vans Authentic is the best shoe ever.

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  • Main & Featured Image: Kith

Vancouver-born, Berlin-based writer, photographer and editor with a steady hand on the keyboard.

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