- A classic silhouette that works with any wardrobe
- Fits true to size
- Durable canvas construction
- Padded collar
- Comfortable once worn in
- Still a supportive skate shoe
- Part of sneaker history
- Takes time to break in
- Not suitable for winter wear
- Hard to clean stains out
The Vans Era were groundbreaking in their time
It would be fair to say that when Paul and Jim Van Doren started making their Vans Style #44 (now known as the Authentics) in 1966, it was a total accident that they would be picked up and beaten to hell by skaters. By 1976, they knew full well that the Vans #95 (The Eras) would be groundbreaking.
With input from skateboarding deities Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta, the Eras are the first-ever skate shoe. With a rubber, waffle outer sole, breathable canvas uppers, and possibly the widest array of colorways on the market, the Eras is definitely special.
The Era is one of the world’s most versatile sneakers
Now as easily spotted paired with summer dresses, chinos, or swim shorts, the Eras still hold up on top of a board. Thanks to their versatility and rigorous loyalty to their initial cult following, Vans have superseded California and become one of the most recognisable names in sneaker history.
I picked up a classic white colorway, more than anything because it’s a versatile shoe that becomes even more so when roughed up a bit. Vans haven’t changed much from the original #95 silhouette. I’m sure there have been changes to the manufacturing process and the canvas is probably lighter than before.
Vans haven’t touched much in the design of the shoe
Aside from that the plimsoll line, low-key stitching and relaxed form factor are all there. There’s the padded collar around the ankle and of course the Waffle rubber outsole.
Metal eyelets for lacing are going to help with durability but also brings me to one of the issues I’ve found with the Vans Era. While a perfect lifestyle shoe that fits true to size, the construction means the lacing pulls together the whole shoe, meaning all of it has to be and stay tight if the shoe is going to.
In 2021 when we’re seeing the likes of the Nike SB Nyjah Free 2, skate shoes are quickly becoming more intuitive than this. If you do plan to skate in the Era, definitely look into different lacing techniques, like this zipper style I went for to keep it all tight.
Some of us have to accept the Era as a lifestyle shoe now
It’s hard to get hung up on these details too much, Vans has made it clear that their Skate or Pro line is developed for those wanting to use these as tools. This original lineup leans into the lifestyle market, and for the price point, I wouldn’t expect them to address this.
Vans still care about the quality of their shoes
The market for Vans is wide and for the majority of people not skating daily in the Eras, the shoe is rock-solid. Praised for their canvas construction, the Eras still feel like they’re made in smaller batches, with care taken to the materials.
The canvas construction is commened for more than its durability. Where modern sneakers are adding mesh to everything they can attach it to, the canvas means the entire shoe is breathable.
The Vans Era is not a go-to winter shoe
This canvas does have a downfall however, it’s neither weatherproof nor stain resistant. As is true with all of the original Vans silhouettes that I’ve tested, stains sink and stay there. While I love a beat-up shoe, a large section of the market cares about a nice, clean kick.
The minimalist outsole takes a while to break-in
Meanwhile, the simple, flat outsole takes a bit of time to wear in, but once you do the Vans Era fit perfectly and are comfortable for most day-to-day situations. The midsole is quite rigid though, meaning that the sneaker doesn’t bend with the foot as well as it should. All this means is it’s not a shoe you’d want to be walking on changing terrain all day.
You can’t knock a 50-year-old silhouette with this price tag
What else can you say about the Vans Era though? They’re a classic that continues to be popular with almost everyone. A time-tested look that is durable, breathable, and simple. Also at a price point under £60, it’s hard to take any of the negatives too seriously.