Made In The USA: Vans Style 113

Repeat after me: There has not been a “skate shoe” made in the United States since the turn of the century.

There has not been a “skate shoe” made in the United States since the turn of the century.

Ah, but we are both wrong. There were one thousand, four hundred skate shoes made in the United States this year. Seven hundred pairs. At a price, and through a distribution method, that borders on the obscene.

Eppur si muove, though. This pair is mine.


You can thank “street style” culture for Vans’ decision to have seven hundred pairs of the Style 113 skate shoe made in the USA as part of its “Archive Advancement” program. Street style is a bit of a mystery to me. I can explain quite simply why I enjoy buying and wearing clothes from Kiton, Brioni, Turnbull&Asser, Edward Green, Marol, Allen-Edmonds, Hickey Freeman, and a dozen more brands: they are made to the highest standards possible using ethically sourced materials and under humane conditions. I may not look any better in a Richard Anderson bespoke sportcoat than I would in a garbage-ass Tommy Hilfiger Chinese contraption that costs a sixtieth as much, but I feel better because I know that nobody suffered in the creation of it. (At least not any more than I suffer in my job, anyway.) I don’t feel good about purchasing products that directly lead to the misery of others. It amazes me that people — and by people I mean women — will prattle on about how a cow or chicken suffers in the slaughterhouse while wearing clothing that was literally sewn by children working under sweatshop conditions. How can you care more about a cow than about a child? But I digress.

Street style is about wearing a better grade of sweatshop bullshit, or at least a more brightly-colored grade of it. Brands like “Supreme” are very big in street style. As far as I can tell, a “Supreme” clothing item is the same as a Wal-Mart “Faded Glory” clothing item except it says “Supreme” on it. Apologies if there’s something more to it than that. Anyway, Vans is courting the “street style” crowd with their ArcAd products, which are sold through a very select group of dealers. Most of those dealers are overseas and many of them are in Japan. The Japanese are sticklers for authenticity and some of them wanted real Vans, by which they mean American-made Vans.

Enter the Style 113. Priced at an eye-watering $270 a pair, it’s a real pair of USA-made Vans, designed to be sold overseas. But a few of them were sold in the USA via Silo. I missed my chance to buy them because I’m not on the ArcAd email list. So I paid a scalper’s rate to get a new-in-box pair via Grailed.

You might wonder why I’d spend this kind of money on a skate shoe. It’s as simple as this: I don’t like wearing shoes made in the Far East, period, point blank. And if $270 is outrageous for skate shoes (which it is) at least it’s cheaper than a set of cordovan Crockett&Jones longwings or Edward Green spectators. Plus the Style 113s look the part when you take them out of the box. Compared to the overseas-made Vans I’ve been wearing at skateparks this year, the USA-made version feels heavier, looks better, and offers much higher-quality materials.

Once I kill these shoes, which should take about fifteen trips to a skatepark or BMX track, I won’t be able to replace them. I hope that the success of the Style 113 (they were sold out almost immediately) will cause Vans to reconsider the idea of bulk manufacturing in the United States at a more reasonable price. In the meantime, I’ll feel slightly better about myself every time I put this pair on. That’s worth something, right?

16 Replies to “Made In The USA: Vans Style 113”

  1. -Nate-Nate

    “How can you care more about a cow than about a child? But I digress.”

    I don’t know either, why not ask the people in India ? .

    Another good post teaching me how little I know about anything .

    -Nate

    Reply
  2. tresmonos

    It’s worth it. Same reason I beat on my USA made items. The sooner they disintegrate, the sooner I can replace them with something that is also made in the USA.

    I bought a Champion x Todd Snyder sweatshirt yesterday because A) it was cut and sewn by WS&Co in Toronto (likely of foreign made materials, but that’s what all my American Giant sweatshirts are for) and B) I’ll feel good about stripping it off my hot AF girlfriend versus some Chinese made bullsh*t.

    Reply
      • tresmonos

        Man they charge more than American Giant does for sweatpants and their sweatshirt isn’t much less that AG. AG has better cuts that have throw back construction elements. Plus AG mandates their entire supply chain from cotton to ginning to spinning to weaving to cut and sew is American.

        It’s good to see there is an alternative, but I’m sticking with American Giant due to my personal preference.

        Also, there is no Kellsport cut and sew mill that I am aware of. They use contractors just like American Giant.

        Reply
      • tresmonos

        Also- little textile trivia for y’all: the owner of Kellsport was the originator of American Apparel with Dov Charney.

        Reply
    • Unknown

      Randolph Engineering make excellent eyewear. The sad thing is you used to be able to get their surplus mil contract sunglasses for pennies (well, 10s of $) but now they are marketed up there with the crap that Rayban has become post B&L

      Reply
      • Scott Seigmund

        I’m certainly willing to pay a fair price for fashionable eyewear made in the U.S.A. Randolph is not more expensive than competing brands, all of which are now made overseas, and arguably better quality.

        Now, if you will excuse me while I find my original 50th Anniversary Rayban RB-50s “The General” which were made in the U.S.A. . . .

        Reply
  3. Dirty Dingus McGee

    Quality cost’s, be it shoes, tools or automobiles. In 2005 while on a business trip to San Antonio, I had a pair of boots made at Little’s Boots. Python lowers, buffalo hide uppers, “cockroach stomper” toe, 1 1/2″ heel. I have had them re-soled once and will likely have them done again in a year or so. Original cost was just under $800, re-sole was $100, plus my cost to ship them. If memory serves, turn around from original measuring/fitting was about 4 months. Took about 1 month of intermittent wear to get them broke in initially, about 1 week on the re-sole.
    I had tried off the shelf boot before and found that usually I got 3-4 years out of a $250-$300 pair.
    For work boots (most places we go to require safety toe shoes) Carolina Boots are hard to beat. I prefer the AMP USA Wellington, style #ca7504. Made in the USA and only $200 for a pair.

    Reply
    • Disinterested-Observer

      I have a handmade sweater, Aran made in America by a FOB Irish immigrant, that has been dry-cleaned exactly once in 30+ years. It has a little spot on one of the sleeves, I must have spilled coffee on it at some point. Otherwise it looks brand new. Of course at the time, I think it was something like $150+ in 1980 pre-housing-bubble funny-money.

      Reply
  4. Ronnie Schreiber

    Some Chinese manufactured products are so inexpensive at retail that I don’t know how anyone in China is making a profit on them. Labor in China isn’t free, I understand that unskilled labor in major manufacturing regions runs about $4/hr and skilled labor about $8/hr.

    Reply
  5. CJinSD

    If you want to have a conversation with a woman about the ethics of consumerism, might I suggest the topic of diamonds?

    Reply
  6. the passenger

    I agree that it would be great to be able to buy American-made casual athletic shoes from some other brand besides New Balance, but even with wider availability this shoe doesn’t cut it for me aesthetically (and neither do the majority of NB’s styles, or at least the ones that are available in wide widths). Give me the chance to buy a US-manufactured pair of Vans Authentics with the UltraCush insoles, and I’m in. I admit I’ve never tried Gustin’s sneakers; something about them doesn’t look quite right to me, and ditto for Rancourt’s offerings. Yes, I am very fussy about shoes.

    Side note: Jack’s recent post on Cone Mills sent me following the links he provided, and I ended up buying two pairs of US-made 505s before they disappeared from the Levi’s website (Amazon seems to have some still in stock).

    Reply

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