Vans is a name that’s synonymous with skater footwear, but it’s grown beyond its origin story and is now one of the most widely bought casual footwear in the world. Say the word Vans to almost anyone, and they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. And since becoming so popular, Vans have had to develop new styles and release new shoes to keep their fanbase interested. With so many options out there, though, it’s hard to know what the major differences between each Vans shoe are.
But don’t worry, today we’re on hand to help you learn all about the major differences, pros, and cons of two of Vans bestselling shoes – Vans Old Skool and Vans Ward. So if you’ve ever wondered what the differences between these shoes are, their good points, their bad points, and which is better for you, then you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Vans Old Skool
Originally designed for skateboarding when it was first released in 1977, the Vans Old Skool became an instant hit for its comfort and firm grip it allowed on the skateboards beneath skaters’ feet.
Unique in its design and durable in its structure, this shoe was not only an instant success, but only grew in popularity overtime, until eventually, it became known as a mainstream shoe and a skater shoe (although its skateboarding heritage is still obvious in its design even today).
Some of its key features are its cushioning, ankle support, strong traction, and excellent ventilation – all things skaters need, but all things everybody benefits from when wearing them too.
It also boasts Paul Van Doren’s infamous ‘Jazz Stripe’ design, reinforced toe caps, waffle outsoles, and padded tops. This low-top lace-up shoe is as iconic now as it ever was and remains popular with skaters and casual shoe fanatics even today.
The Vans Ward is a much newer shoe compared to the Old Skool, and isn’t as well established in Vans’ line of shoes – but that doesn’t make them any less popular.
In fact, Vans Ward shoes are the perfect blend of modern and traditional. It still features everything you’d expect from a traditional skateboarding sneaker, but there’s no denying that they’ve been designed with the everyday consumer in mind. Yes, they’re still comfortable and offer amazing ankle support, but the suede and canvas upper with rubber soles feel more ‘everyday’, as though they were designed with casual style at the fore (as opposed to the needs of skaters).
For its design, this low-profile sneaker makes use of a textured toe bumper, classic stripe (not the Jazz Stripe, however), textile lining, lace-up closure with metal eyelets, padded collar, and cushioned insoles.
The overall look of the Vans Ward and Vans Old Skool aren’t miles away from each other, and casual shoe wearers and skaters alike could equally use both, but there’s no denying that there are some major differences which we’ll cover below.
Differences Between Vans Old Skool And Vans Ward
Some of the differences between the two shoes are immediately apparent in their design, and others are more to do with the construction of the shoe itself. Either way, if you’re looking for the major differences between Vans Old Skool and Vans Ward shoes, then here are some quick-fire facts:
- Upper: Vans Old Skool makes use of a leather, canvas, and suede upper which offers some flexibility but certainly prioritizes durability. On the other hand, Vans Ward uses just canvas and suede, allowing the shoe to bend and move with your foot more, but making it a little less wear-resistant as a result. This is just one area where you can see that the Vans Ward focuses more on everyday customers than skaters.
- Sole Type: In terms of sole type, the only difference is the material. In terms of performance, skaters would argue that both shoes offer great grip and traction, and most casual wearers would argue that both soles offer great durability over time. However, Vans Ward shoes use vulcanized rubber soles which are glued to the uppers, and Vans Old Skool makes use of rubber, vulcanized, and gum-type sole materials.
- Sole Style: Whilst both shoes make use of that traditional Vans waffle-style sole, there is an obvious difference in the shade. Vans Old Skool uses a light brown colored sole, but the Vans Ward is a much darker brown.
- Tongue: The tongues themselves are very similar in their ability to keep your foot stable in the shoe and they’re both very comfortable. But where they differ is in their design. The Vans Old Skool has a retro, minimalistic and classic design that suits the skater style more, but the Vans Ward has the Vans brand signature on it. This is an important detail because it shows Vans’ desire to market themselves more for the masses by including their brand signature on a shoe they know will sell well to more of the market than just skaters. It’s a clever marketing tactic that ultimately makes their name more recognizable and shows how they had focussed on a larger audience when designing the Vans Ward.
- Interior Colors: The interior colors are also instantly recognizably different – with the Vans Old Skool opting for an off-white, and the Vans Ward opting for a bolder dark black interior.
- Print: And finally, the last major difference is the print. The Vans Old Skool uses a classic checker print on their uppers, and the Vans Ward uses a more modern tie-dye print to impress buyers.
Vans Old Skool And Vans Ward: Pros & Cons
There are actually a few key differences when you look at both shoes more closely, but how do they affect the pros and cons of each shoe? Let’s look at that closer below.
Vans Old Skool
- Classic silhouette and color palette that will work with any casual/skater outfit.
- Unrivaled comfort and support for both skaters and casual wearers alike.
- True to size and provides a snug, secure fit.
- Neat and clean design – checkered print and ‘Jazz Stripe’ are bold, but understated.
- Breathable uppers.
- Durable wear.
- Doesn’t provide great arch support for the everyday user.
- The design of the shoe at the back can rub some users easily (likely due to snug fit).
- Perfect mix of classic and modern.
- Adaptive shoe that really can work in most situations or occasions.
- Breathable and comfortable to wear for long periods.
- Vulcanized rubber sole is sturdy and durable and incredibly comfortable.
- Supports foot in all the right places.
- Price is typically better because it’s been designed with more people in mind.
- May take a little while longer to ‘break in’ despite the more flexible uppers.
- Outsole is easy to get dirty and maintaining a ‘like-new’ look is nearly impossible.
Which Is Better?
So, with all that said and done, it boils down to this. Vans Old Skool vs Vans Ward: which is better?
And honestly, it’s hard to say. Both have amazing features and although at first they look similar, they are actually very different. Not only in the way they are made or the way they look, but who will benefit most from them, too.
Are you a skater looking for a luxury shoe that’s durable, classic, and stylish? Then the Old Skool is the perfect choice for you. Or are you just someone looking for a more affordable, everyday, casual shoe to wear for leisure activities or light sports? If so, then the Ward is your best bet.
The point is, both these shoes look and feel amazing when you put them on, but they serve slightly different purposes. But in truth, anyone would benefit from either of these stylish, classic Vans, so pick the style you prefer and treat yourself to that one. Both the Ward and Old Skool would look amazing in anyone’s closet!