Vans sneakers have been incredibly popular since the company’s deck shoes debuted in the early 1970s, becoming suddenly ubiquitous in Southern California. And for good reason: The comfortable, good-looking shoes are to skate culture what Converse All-Stars are to Basketball and punk culture. They go with everything. They’re affordable. And, according to new data on shoe sales, they are back in style in a big way. Sales of Vans rose a whopping 35 percent last quarter as the company found ways to target little kids, high school kids, hypebeasts, and, yes, even dads.
“There’s a lengthy heritage around California lifestyle…Most people who buy Vans don’t have a clue about how to skateboard,” Matt Powell, a sports industry analyst at market research firm NPD Group. Told CNN Money.
Last year alone, sales of Vans rose by 19 percent. The strong recent quarter has even prompted the company to increase their predicted sales growth this year to 15 percent. This all goes without noting the fact that a majority of Vans shoes and sneakers are only between $50 and $75. That’s wild when you consider the fact that, on average, a Nike shoe will retail for about $100.
The big surge in Vans’ popularity has been linked to a few things. As Powell hints at, the idea that athletic wear is limited to actual athletes has become a thing of the past. Secondly, younger millennials and members of Generation Z have an all-consuming passion for early 1990s nostalgia. This isn’t a subtle thing. Companies like Supreme, Palace, and Fucking Awesome are Instagram famous precisely because they borrow from the aesthetics that informed cool middle schoolers’ back-to-school shopping decisions in 1993, when skate culture was blowing up nationwide.
“We all remember our first rock concert, our first kiss,” Global brand president Doug Palladini said. “When you put on Vans, it brings you back to that feeling.”
What does that mean for guys who used to sport Vans back in the day, but have traded them for loafers or New Balance? That it’s time to dig back into the closet. It’s time to put the classics back on.