Vans x WTAPS – The Van Doren Way

Anyone who is familiar with Vans long time collaborations with Japanese based artisans WTAPS will probably think of the duo’s famous “bones” collections. Earlier this year WTAPS released their own footwear with their highly addicting bones motif. This led to speculations that their newest collab with Vans would be another bones release. However these rumors were eventually dispelled a few months before the release. WTAPS are synonymous with a militaristic and Americana aesthetic. As such, and probably due to Vault’s 10th anniversary, WTAPS decided forgo their out of the box thinking in favor of a tribute to Vans earlier days of design.

Vans history has tended to be very ambiguous. After Vans’ downturn in the 90s their aesthetic changed. Their shoes were briefly designed to reflect the trends of the era, the Van Doren family’s original Cali aesthetics, were reduced to nostalgia. However once the 2000s rolled around Vans eventually decided to bring back their original shoe models. Instead of coming up with newer designs, that didn’t always reflect Vans’ style, the og models were upgraded to make them more skate-able. Today Vans’ image is a mix of their heritage, creating their own lux style, and finding newer technologies to use for their footwear. James Van Doren had simple designs. Being a California native he was influenced by both the surfing and skating scene of the 60s, as well as his time working in a shoe factory. He offered his shoes in different colors, and initially he only made canvas shoes.  With the introduction of the Sk8 Hi in the 70s, suede became a regularly used material by Vans for their future products. Vans used color all throughout its history. Before the 60s its was very uncommon for sneakers to be in any color besides black or white. Vans, being a California based company, embraced color immediately. Shoes such as the Slip On and Chukka Boot were readily offered in various colors upon their initial birth.

WTAPS having a love for classic American design, chose to recreate Vans’ genesis style. The Slip On was was chosen to to pay tribute to Vans Cali roots and their appreciation for suede with its bright colorful suedes. Reminding us of Vans’ Cali inspired shoes. The Chukka boots come in an all canvas build harking back to when the Van Doren brothers would construct their own canvas shoes by hand. For awhile they only sold canvas shoes. Finally theres the Sk8 His which were the piece de resistance for many collectors. Made with canvas and suede like their original specifications, but in more subdued colors, which accentuate WTAPS’ style. They had a prelaunch event at the Darkside Initiative, WTAPS employees gave out hand pressed dog tags and canteens to go along with the collection.

If anyone is still scratching their heads trying to wrap their heads around why WTAPS went to simplistic compared to their older releases. WTAPS’ main head explains the reasoning behind the design of this release.

The boxes used were made to look like Vans’ original boxes from the 60s.

Thick Canvas upper, perhaps duck canvas.

WTAPS side tabs on opposing sides.


WTAPS signature specifications label. Padded collar.

Leather heel glued onto insole.

*Most of this collections is already sold out. However the Slip-ons and Chukkas can still be found.


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