Damn, Ballers: The Vans Trend is Taking Over the NBA
Last month, Vans celebrated its 50th anniversary. Once known for being a skateboarding staple, the brand is now a fashion favorite, especially (and surprisingly) amongst NBA athletes, who are more often associated with basketball sneakers than the minimalist skateboarding staple.
Vans go up to size 14, meaning tall guys with big feet are able to rock the simple sneakers. Vans was also one of the most Instagrammed brands in 2015, as the black and white Vans SK8-Hi became a signature of minimalistic, “cool” Instagram stars (and of course, Kanye West’s co-sign helped). Also, California, where the brand is still based, is having a moment, especially in men’s fashion—STAMPD, John Elliott and Fear of God are all based in the Los Angeles area. The athletes we’ve spotted in Vans, who are mainly from the West coast, embrace these trends in their own personal styles.
What’s interesting is that Vans actually once made sneakers for basketball: in the 1980s, bolstered by their success amongst skateboarders, they began going after the giant performance market, which was dominated by Nike, adidas and Puma.
But the expansion into the new market was too much of a jump for the brand. Manufacturing the new soles had to be moved overseas instead of at home in California, and the high cost of all new materials like engineered textiles and dyes plunged the company into 12 million dollars of debt. The core Vans models kept selling well, but consumers stuck to the big athletic brands for running and basketball footwear.
But now, the tables have turned as more athletes embrace Vans—both the high-end collaborations and the more affordable models. It’ll be interesting to see how the brand trends both across the country and online. For now, here are the biggest NBA stars adopting Vans into their wardrobes.
California native “Swaggy P” is without question the leader in the NBA when it comes to sporting Vans, going on record to say that they are among his favorite silhouettes of all time. Young wore Vans most often while negotiating a new sneaker deal—with adidas—but he still keeps them in rotation. Young tends to favor low tops like the Vans Authentic, Old Skools and Eras, but he’s also been spotted in the Vans Vault Sk8-Hi.
It should come as no surprise that another Los Angeles Laker is another proponent of Vans. Clarkson, a fellow Californian and streetwear fiend, is known for wearing a mix of high end brands like Louis Vuitton and more affordable ones—like Vans.
Clarkson generally favors low tops too, mostly in black or white. He’s often been spotted in the Old Skool, Checkerboard slip on and occasionally the Sk8-Hi.
True Religion’s newest Creative Director and frequent Barney’s collaborator, Westbrook still mixes it up with non-Westbrook products once in a while. Case in point, his Van Authentic checker-print sneakers, in-keeping with his bold and occasionally outrageous outfits.
Good day shooting with @cbroadus @filmschoolproductions @1lovesociety @scott_hochstadt @ezra_holland @legends_socks A photo posted by stephennash (@stephennash) on
One of the most underrated athletes when it comes to personal style, the retired NBA point guard wore a pair of black-on-black on Vans Slip-Ons to assist Andre Drummond in the latest Dunk Contest in Toronto.
While the soccer assist that Nash tried to pass to Drummond wasn’t all that successful, it certainly was a stylish attempt.
The self-proclaimed “Wave God” Chris Douglas-Roberts (CDR) has always done things his way, especially when it comes to personal style. CDR is often found skateboarding, and his Vans Slip-Ons are one of his favorite silhouettes. He’s working on getting back into the NBA via the D-League, so hopefully we’ll see him bring his skateboarding-inspired swag back to the NBA soon.
Freedom #L8show #sooncomehebrewpt1 #com™ #tbt A photo posted by Larry Sanders (@theonenappy) on
Another former player that’s always marched to the beat of his own drum is Larry Sanders aka The One and Only Nappy. Like Vans, Sanders’ style is heavily influenced by the Cali lifestyle, and he’s oft spotted in the Vans Authentic.
Believe it or not, the former Mr. Kim Kardashian has been on the Vans wave for a while. Much like the other athletes on our list, he wears the skateboarding staple with more high-end pieces like Gucci. His style isn’t quite as cool as the other on this list, but we respect his effort.
OK, so he’s not an NBA player, but football player Omar Bolden’s Vans style deserves an honorable mention. While he favors the adidas Yeezy line for most off-day outfits, he always seems to have a few pairs of Vans with him. He prefers the classics like the SK8-Hi in black and the Authentic in white. Damn, Omar.