Back in high school, I alternated among three pairs of footwear: black rubber thong sandals, black low-top Converse sneakers, and checkerboard slip-on Vans. When I left home in sunny SoCal for college, these were all packed in my suitcase. As a young adult entering the working world, I reluctantly “upgraded” my shoe collection by adding a few pairs of leather ballet flats to the mix. High heels eventually made their way into my closet too. But at the end of the day, I always reverted back to my good ol’ flip-flops, chucks, and checks.
Up until a month ago, these remnants of the not-so-distant past were still sitting in my closet, dirty and busted from miles upon miles of memories. I’d literally worn through their soles. After all these years I couldn’t bear to let them go because they were practically relics. But alas, nothing gold can stay. Into the garbage they went– thus leaving a gaping hole in my sneaker game.
These days, my “casual” everyday footwear veers more towards the slip-on, leather-soled variety (ballet flats, loafers, and oxfords). But with an upcoming vacation in the works, I’ve been on the lookout for some sneaker replacements that will be comfortable enough for all-day sightseeing in potentially mercurial weather. I came across these bronze metallic leather slip-on Vans several months ago, but initially passed on them because I was on a shopping fast at the time. When a pair in my size recently popped up on deep discount in the J. Crew sale section, I decided it was finally time to give them a spin.
These shoes come in unisex sizing and the J. Crew website recommends that women order one and a half sizes smaller than their regular size. I usually wear a US women’s size 6 or 6.5 and ordered the shoe in a US men’s size 4.5. This is the same size as my old pair of checkerboard canvas Vans and I thought that the leather version had a similar fit. Note that I tend to wear my sneakers sans socks or with thin no-show socks. If you like wearing thicker socks with your sneakers, you may want to size up.
Straight out of the box, the pebbled leather is pliable and not uncomfortably stiff. With more wear, I think that the leather will soften even more. I do wonder how much luster the metallic leather will retain over time, though. The bronze color is quite striking in person– a bit darker than what stock photos would lead you to expect. However, I find bronze to be a surprisingly neutral hue that goes with a lot of my darker-colored clothing. Think of it as a jazzed-up version of brown.
After walking around town in these shoes for most of the day, I would give them an 8 on a ten-point comfort scale. Consider getting some gel insoles if you want a little more support. And be prepared for the compliments you will get when wearing them. I kid you not– I ventured no further than a block away from my home when three women stopped to tell me how awesome these Vans were.
The Upshot: Definitely keepers for me. If you’re a fan of the classic canvas slip-on Vans, these leather metallics are a cool “grown-up” upgrade. The bronze color is pretty much sold out at J. Crew by now (keep an eye out for discounted pop-ups), however I noticed that they now have the metallic silver leather version in stock. These shoes are also available on the Vans website (in bronze and silver!) as well as at Nordstrom and Piperlime.