Converse & Vans, the footwear of choice for students, 30 somethings who think they’re still students (ahem), clubbers, band-types, casuals, mods and just about any other creative, musically influenced demographic we can think of. So, why the popularity? and why particularly amongst the artistic? Well for me it’s their simplicity; canvas upper, rubber sole & laces that will compliment anything and everything, whatever your style.
It’s also common knowledge that Converse look better the older and more knackered they become. I’ve owned many a white converse hi-top that have been through the mill, rubber sole literally hanging off, covered in stains from gigs, festivals, after-parties, after-after parties and stinking of dirt, sweat and stale booze. Yet still, I just can’t let them go and why would I want too when we’ve shared so many good times, not so good times and hazy memories. Anyway, lets move on swiftly before I tear-up over my stinky trainers.
To commend the fact that these guys have a combined total of 154 years of sneaker-making pedigree behind them, we thought it only right to take you through our guide to the best Converse and Vans for AW14.
1. Vans X Peanuts Sk8-Hi LX Camp Snoopy
We kick off with one of the most exciting collaborations of the year, as Vans Vaults joined forces with long running American comic strip Peanuts to deliver a range of limited edition sneakers. Our pick of a very impressive bunch is this Sk8-Hi LX Camp Snoopy, which is re-issue a vintage print that originally commemorated the opening of camp snoopy in 1983. I mean a print of Snoopy in his gigs, it surely can’t get much cooler.
2. Converse Jack Purcell LTT Ox Washed
We simply couldn’t do a rundown of our favourite Converse, without including their Jack Purcell re-issue. Named after famous American Badminton Player/come sneaker designer, this LTT Ox Washed Trainer is an impeccable low-top. There’s a boat load of original features including the famed ‘smile’ across the vulcanised toe cap, a washed canvas upper and the Jacket Purcell heel tab. Look out for a range of colour-ways on offer including, wild honey (yellow), white and blue spruce and our pick, the Terrarosa wash below.
3. Vans Authentic Gumsole – India Ink
We’re into life’s simple pleasures here at Male Extravaganza and they don’t come much more straightforward than these Authentic Gumsole sneaks in this ‘India Ink’ colour-way (navy to us regular folks). Taking Vans‘ iconic style, these canvas upper lace-ups feature a simple low-top, metal eyelets, gum foxing and original waffle outsole. Great looking and unfussy footwear!
4. Converse – Chuck Taylor 1970s Hi
Somewhat of a classic this shoe was originally released in 1917, and almost a century on it’s still on trend. This 1970’s version comes in just about every colour you can imagine. However, my clear pick is the ‘heritage blue’ featured below, with undeniable vintage feel to it. Look out for all the standard detailing, including limited edition ‘All Star’ heel branding.
5. Vans Sk8-Hi Zip CA – Varsity Stripe
You might have gathered by now that we’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Hi-Tops and Sk8-Hi is one of the most iconic sports shoes around with a design that’s embedded in skate culture. The Zip CA has cool features in abundance, including a full zip closure with leather pull zip, leather upper with padded ankle support, signature side stripe, punch holed toe detail and the Vans Vault logo embossed on the heel and tongue.
6. Converse – All Star Hi White Cap Grey
Continuing with another Hi-Top, we’ve left the canvas behind and gone for this twill wool upper. It’s got all the familiar features, including branded mid-sole and side, Rubber cap and outsole and a lace up fastening. A smarter, rather more contemporary hi-top that locks the business.
7. Anthony Van Engelen’s Signature AV Classic
This heritage lace-up is new for AW14 and is littered with technological knowhow, including a Ortholite Cushioning and Durcap rubber underlays in the high wearing areas of the shoe. These AV’s have some impressive stitch detailing and I love the way the red ‘Vans’ heel tab/side tab contrasts against the back canvas upper.
8. Converse – Chuck Taylor 1970 Vintage Flag QS
More Chuck Taylor’s and this time it’s these 1970 Vintage Flag All Stars. I could just imagine Steve McQueen or Bruce Springsteen owning a pair of these … they really are that American, and a real statement of US sports heritage. Expect a slimmer silhouette than the original converse hi-top and features that include the all over stars and stripes design, white upper stitch detailing and a double strength canvas upper. Finally, these Vintage Flag Hi-tops wouldn’t be complete without the signed Chuck Taylor heel-tab.
See Also: 6 Must Have Shoes in 2014
9. Vans x Star Wars U Era
The guys at Vans do love a collaboration and this time they’ve taken the original artwork from the Stars Wars Trilogy and designed a playful canvas upper. Their classic ‘Era’ shoe has been given the full outer-space treatment with a cool ‘Star Wars’ tongue logo, and the trainer is finished off with that famous Vans heel-tab branding and classic waffle sole.
10. Vans LPE Shoes
Some of the Vans collections can be a little chunky for my taste, but I cannot deny my love for this new LPE Franken Shoe with its slightly narrower front toe silhouette and a noticeably lower profile than the ERA/Authentic collections. The rest of the sneaker has all the standard Vans detailing and there’s some really bold and bright colour-ways to choose from. It’s this red version all the way for us though.
11. Converse White All Star Hi Trainers
So we’ve saved the best till last. Don’t get me wrong, we love all the trainers featured in this guide, but probably none as much as classic White All Star Hi-Top. I’ve lost count of how many pairs I’ve owned in my lifetime; they’re my go-to trainer. Simple, durable and without doubt one of the most aesthetically pleasing trainers around; the original basketball shoe! The All Star Hi Top is the perfect example of timeless footwear that has spanned generations and managed to remain uncomplicatedly cool.