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We’ve reached a point in culture where no one assumes that someone wearing Vans skate sneakers is attempting to ape skate culture. Vans’ shoes are simply universal. However, Vans’ new pre-distressed sneakers run the risk of making the wearer look like they’re trying to ape skater style without, y’know, actually getting on a board.

We’re talkin’ about Vans Vault’s “Stressed” pack, which lives up to its name with faux distressing atop a couple pairs of Slip-On and Sk8-Hi sneakers. And we’re not just talking about a scuff here or a scratch there: we’re looking at midsoles that’re scraped grey, uppers darkened by black splotches, and, in the case of the Sk8-Hi, laces to match.

Vans Vault’s “Stressed” series has yielded worn-looking Old-Skool and Authentic shoes — sizes still available in the former, unsurprisingly — over the past few months but this is the first drop to encompass two Vans silhouettes in one go.

I have to imagine that these pre-loved-looking Vans are a pretty tough sell.

The only brands that seem to be able to get away with weathered sneakers are luxury labels like Balenciaga and Golden Goose.

It’s still hard to wrap my mind around the appeal of having shoes that lived-in but I suppose with shoes as expensive as those, there’s some sort of appeal in the juxtaposition between the expensive, fancy materials and the appearance.

Meanwhile, these Vans are too utilitarian to channel the appeal, whatever appeal that is.

It’s the same reason why BEAMS’ destroyed PUMAs felt so off. At least Bianca Chandon’s Vans make the effect comparably subtle.

I do appreciate the artistry of making these things actually look lived-in though — the pre-distressed details are quite convincing, at least from afar. Check out Vans’ latest “Stressed” pack when it launch in May if that’s your thing; maybe the distressing makes more sense IRL.


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