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?