Completing the outfit: Emily Ratajkowski appeared in Paris in a form-fitting white tank top, flowy tan trousers and a buttery Miu Miu Arcadie bag. Which shoe best completes the overall look? The obvious choices are summery sandals, tried-and-true ballet flats or long-lasting adidas sambas. Instead, the model and author opted for a pair of classic black and white Vans checkerboard loafers.
As a native of Southern California, I feel like Ratajkowski’s design vindicated me. Choice of shoes. Owning a pair of Vans can feel like having the same right of way as surfing on a surfboard, but they never had a moment of national or global ubiquity like the Air Force 1 or Stan Smiths (or, yes, Sambas) . While I proudly owned other sneakers of the time and wore them on the ground, none lasted as long as the humble canvas slip-on. The bright white leather of other popular tennis shoes needs maintenance and, frankly, looks rough when they’re worn too much. (Dirty laces? No thanks.) But for slip-on Vans, dirt adds a layer of cool and authenticity. For a shoe the skating world loves, wear is a sign of durability and utility.
My pair of checkerboard Vans accompanied me through college in Santa Barbara, from learning how to (or at least trying to ) to skateboard, bike along the bumpy dirt road to the beach and enjoy the sunset. Even now that I’m no longer carrying them on college trips, my Vans are still a staple in my wardrobe, they go well with dresses and jeans, fit perfectly in my carry-on luggage, and add to my basic neutral wardrobe There was a surge of vitality.
When I moved to the Midwest for grad school and couldn’t see a pair of roller shoes, I realized that sometimes I needed to leave the house to truly appreciate a local staple. It seems EmRata — a San Diego native hanging out in New York — knows this too. Elsewhere in the US, perhaps Vans are a relic of Warped Tours’ past, but for Californians, they’re essential to a lifestyle that lets you jump into the ocean in no time. What more do you want from this summer?