Vans Checkerboard Slip-On History
When the classic, Vans Slip-On, or was then known as the “Vans Style #98,” was created in 1977, the design immediately gained popularity for its easy slip-on feature and sleek design. Steve Van Doren, the son of the founder, Paul Van Doren, during the late 1970s, observed that teenagers and skaters wearing the Vans Slip-On are using black pens to color the rubber midsole of their sneakers and draw the checkerboard pattern. Steve then took this design idea and applied it to the canvas of the silhouette.
In 1982, the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High took over the world, and Sean Penn’s character Jeff Spicoli, which is a favorite by many, gave more recognition for the Checkerboard Slip-On by Vans.
During the production of the movie, Universal Studios asked Vans to present some shoe options for the film. Vans wasn’t really keen on promoting the silhouette for the movie, but then it was what Sean Penn had picked for his character’s style. As soon as the audience saw the preview of the film, Vans immediately received a lot of requests for the silhouette.
The silhouette did not just become popular because of being featured in a movie, but its iconic checkerboard pattern also has different meanings for different people. During the second wave of the Ska music when it reigned over England, which was also known as the Two Tone wave, racial unity was represented. The checkerboard pattern signified the shattering of the racial barriers, and it led the silhouette to be an icon for the subculture as well.
Popular colorways of the Vans Slip-On Checkerboard
The Vans Checkerboard Slip-On has been an all-time favorite of many and continued to expand its influence not just in sports, music, or the subculture, but also in the fashion world. It is an icon created by Vans that is highly sought-after by many.
Throughout its mainstay in the sneaker limelight, the Vans Checkerboard Slip-On had garnered a massive cult following which enabled well-known retailers like Supreme to put it on their design pedestal. As early as 2011, collaborations including Hello Kitty have been prominently surfacing the market.
For the Hello Kitty x Vans Checkerboard Slip-On merger, the sneaker takes its white boxes and fills it with cute little faces of Hello Kitty. The black boxes, on the other hand, are printed with teeny red ribbons that the famous cat was known to sport. Released in May of 2011, the sneaker was one of the few iterations that would spark the revamping trend of the coveted Slip-On.
The year 2012 sets the comeback of the Vans classic Slip-On Checkerboard silhouette under the Off The Wall shoemaker’s Vans Vault subfranchise. The pack contains three other Slip-On models which come in tonal colorways with the Checkerboard print marking center stage.
Giving in to the color of the sea, Vans was at it again with their Jeff Spicoli-advertised masterpiece tinting it in all shades of blue. In 2013, the Vans Slip-On Checkerboard featured the Dress Blue colorway which ironically comes in a black and ochre match-up although the California shoe producer made up for it by introducing a canvas painted with a black and dark blue check.
As the general public embraced the eccentric design and fashion-forward accents, more and more unorthodox iterations spurt out like mushrooms. From abstract details to floral prints, these sneakers didn’t stand a chance. Of course, a versatile low top like the Vans Checkerboard Slip-On would have its own upgraded taste inclined to these features.
Debuting in 2014, the world-renowned florist named Thierry Boutemy collaborated with Vans and Opening Ceremony to produce a largely checked Slip-On with the darker shades all drenched in flower power. The Thierry Boutemy collection includes three iterations of the Slip-On and one featuring the Vans Chukka model.
Of course, a semi-austere design like the Checkerboard can be morphed to bring forth numerous iterations. Several of these game-changing collaborations include Dover Street Market, Sneakersnstuff, Karl Lagerfeld, END Clothing, and many more upcoming retailers. These sneaker boutiques reinvent the way the classic check pattern is made from triangle shapes to Karl Lagerfeld’s iconic face logo. END Clothing’s vertigo pack twirls the upper design and gives it a new twist.
The Vans Checkerboard Slip-On even inspired Vetements to recreate something similar including the ever-so-popular square patterns. The French-dresser’s take on the checkerboard premieres blue and black hues in a modern slip-on figure than folds the heel counter for more natural wear. The blue pigment is more of a highlighter blue embellishing a unique appeal on the ancient classic motif.
In the long, fruitful years of Vans’ existence, the checkerboard concept had not been loyal to the Slip-On. In fact, its brilliance had been showered down in numerous Vans models including high tops and lows. These Vans sneakers had paid respects to the crowd-induced discovery flawlessly and had been continuing the flame for decades without fail. The Sk8-Hi, Authentic, and Old Skool are few of the prominent users of the timeless check design and fans surely know that there are more coming.