Vans Old Skool Review: Why I’ll Always Have a Pair Around

When design meets durability.

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There aren’t many items of clothing that I buy over and over again. Styles change, trends come and go, sometimes I just want a fresh look. But one item that bucks this trend is the Vans Old Skool.

I’ve bought pair after pair of these shoes for the last decade. Whenever one pair starts looking old, I head online and buy a fresh one. For me, it’s the perfect canvas shoe, which in many ways makes it one of the most perfect shoes overall.

It ticks pretty much every box, from comfort to durability. And what’s more, it does this in a stylish package that is incredibly flexible in terms of what you can wear it with. But, enough gushing from me. In this Vans Old Skool review, we’ll go into each of these points in greater detail.

Vans Old Skool Review

An Enduring Style

Vans Old Skool Review 1
The Brdwlk

The first thing you notice with any pair of sneakers is what they look like. Vans Old Skool has a style that manages to be both instantly recognizable and super minimalist. Essentially we have a fairly plain-looking canvas shoe, with several design elements that take it up a notch.

First is the stripe down the side, which gives the shoe a streamlined look. It’s similar to a Nike Swoosh in how it directs your eyes along the side of the shoe.

Then there’s the contrast stitching, an insanely simple design element that adds a lot of structure. In fact, contrast is at play throughout the shoes. With the single color of the sole, laces, stitching, and stripe all set against the plain background.

What this leaves us with is a shoe that really can be paired with anything. It’ll go with jeans, sweats, and chinos. And it’s even a good candidate to wear with slacks or a suit if you want to add a casual vibe to your next formal outfit.

Supreme Comfort

Vans Old Skool
The Brdwlk

The best looks in the world don’t matter if the shoe is a pain to wear. But Vans Old Skool are very comfortable. The best thing is that they get the balance between support and space. They lock down nicely around your upper foot, even with the laces tied loosely. While a relatively wide toe-box means there is still plenty of room for your feet to breathe.

The sole offers plenty of support, and it’s thick enough so you don’t feel every stone you tread on, which isn’t always the case with canvas shoes, especially cheaper models.

To be clear, these are still canvas shoes. They aren’t a super cushioned pair of athletic shoes, or the supportive walking shoes your parents wear on vacation. But they absolutely are comfortable when compared to other similar styles.

And Vans actually do make a more cushioned version of Vans Old Skool called ComfyCush. I had a pair of these and actually found them to be less comfortable as while they were more cushioned, they seemed a little wider and didn’t wrap around my upper foot as well.

Insanely Durable

Vans Old Skool Review 2
The Brdwlk

Durability is perhaps the main reason why I keep buying these shoes. I know they are going to last for a long time and stay looking good.

The material is a combination of suede and canvas, and it’s super tough. I’ve had a pair of Vans Authentic and the extra durability offered by the suede on the Old Skool meant that these shoes last far longer, at least in my experience.

This makes sense as Vans Old Skool was designed as skate shoes which means they need to survive the knocks and scrapes that come with this territory. My skating days are long over, and the scrapes I get from walking around town aren’t nearly enough to cause these shoes any damage.

I think the black and white color-scheme I buy helps with durability too. Black shoes simply look better for longer than lighter colors which show dirt much faster.

I also have a trick for making them look good for longer: switching out the laces for a new pair. In my experience laces take on dirt far faster than the rest of the shoes, so swapping them out for a new pair is an easy way to keep the shoes looking fresh for longer.

The sole is also relatively durable. I slightly overpronate so the outside of the shoes wears at a faster rate than the inside. While annoying, this actually highlights how durable the sole is, as despite wearing these shoes a lot, the wear here is minimal.

As is the case with pretty much any pair of sneakers or canvas shoes, the sole is, nonetheless, always the first part of the shoe to go. The upper is usually in pretty good condition at the point when I need a new pair.

How is Vans Od Skool Sizing?

Vans Old Skool fit true to size. I wear the same size in Vans as I do in most other shoes. For example, I have a pair of Nike Daybreak Type and a pair of Silver Street boat shoes and the fit is comparable.

Vans Old Skool Review in Summary

Vans Old Skool combines stylish looks with practical elements like comfort and durability. They are a flexible pair of sneakers that can be worn with a wide variety of outfits. They are available in a ton of colors, and they come with an affordable price tag. There really isn’t much not to like.

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Duncan Elder

Duncan is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Boardwalk. He's a menswear writer who has spent the last 15 years developing his own sense of style, which lies at the cross-section of mid-noughties indie and Uniqlo-inspired minimalism.

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