10 Rarest Vans Shoes

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Vans is an iconic shoe brand synonymous with skating and streetwear. Started in the 1960s by the Van Doren Brothers, the company has created countless designs and collaborated with artists, top designers, and films to produce bold shoes that match the wearer’s personality. Although a list of rare Vans is difficult to generate because, ironically, there are so many, here is a compilation of a few that represent the breadth of Vans limited edition designs.

  1. Vans OG Collection
  2. Year: Unknown
    Styles: High tops, low tops, and slip ons
      Colorways: Multiple
    Vans OG Collection
    photo source: Vans.com

    The Vans OG collection is one of several only available at select Vans Vault dealers. These special limited editions come in various fun styles that riff off the classic shoe. The collection features pony hair, leather and canvas fabrics as well as cheetah print, checkered print and several solid colors. Most of the Vans Vault collections are collaborations or otherwise more unique shoe styles.

    Did you know

    Although Vans is probably best known for its slip on style, they didn’t offer it until 1977— 11 years after the company was founded.

  3. Foo Fighters 25th Anniversary Collaboration
  4. Year: 2021
    Styles: High Tops
      Colorways: Black/white
    Foo Fighters 25th Anniversary Collaboration
    photo source: Hypebeast.com

    As a way to celebrate their 25th anniversary and make up for the inability to tour, the Foo Fighters released a limited edition Vans style. The Sk8-His feature the Foo Fighters logo in white against a black background. The shoes also have red cross stitching and the words Foo and Fighter on the back in red.

    Did you know

    Dave Grohl, founder of Foo Fighters, is known for his drumming prowess. But, before he joined Nirvana, he played guitar and wrote songs as a child.

  5. Robert Williams Collection
  6. Year: 2016
    Styles: High tops, low tops, slip ons
      Colorways: Purple/black, blue/white, red/black
    Robert Williams Collection
    photo source: Vans.com

    Robert Williams, a notorious underground artist, collaborated with Vans vault to create a limited edition collection. The shoes come in a range of styles and prints. Each shoe has a specialized canvas print inspired by an artwork of Williams’ that appears in full on the sole of the shoes. They come in slip ons, high tops and low tops. Besides shoes, Williams also designed three t-shirts in white, yellow and black for the collection.

    Did you know

    Brothers Paul and Jim Van Doren, along with some business partners, started the Van Doren Rubber Company in 1966.

  7. Fergus Purcell Customs
  8. Year: Ongoing
    Styles: Any
    ; Colorways: Green/black, blue/black
    Fergus Purcell Customs
    photo source: Vans.com

    British artist Fergus Purcell, AKA Fergadelic, is a well known creator who rose to fame in the 1970s. While he designed an entire Vault collection with Vans, his rarer designs are only available as Vans customs. Customers can choose one of two specially designed prints and then customize the shoes however they want, choosing the style, fit and any other add ons. The prints feature squiggly lines and ladders or paisley.

    Did you know

    Purcell has also collaborated with JWAnderson, Undercover, Junya Watanabe, Alexander McQueen, and Calvin Klein for Raf Simons.

  9. WTAPS Collaboration
  10. Year: 2007
    Styles: High tops, low tops, slip ons
    ; Colorways: Turquoise and white
    WTAPS Collaboration
    photo source: Freshness

    Vans has collaborated with WTAPS (pronounced dub taps) on several occasions, most recently in 2016. Their 2007 collection featured Vans in varying styles with the same turquoise fabric with a white bone print. WTAPS is a Japanese streetwear brand inspired by military fashion. Some of their other clothing designs also feature bones, matching the theme of the shoes.

    Did you know

    Famous skateboarders Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta designed Vans #95, also known as the Era, which became the go-to skateboard shoe.

  11. Bruce Lee Vans
  12. Year: Ongoing
    Styles: High tops
    ; Colorways: Black/multi
    Bruce Lee Vans
    photo source: shop.brucelee.com

    Since these shoes are made to order from the Bruce Lee website, they’re quite rare. They come in the Vans Sk8-Hi style, with a painting of Bruce Lee mid fight on the side. Bruce Lee was a famous actor and martial artist with a lasting legacy. He starred in television series “The Green Hornet”  as lean, crime fighting sidekick Kato as well as multiple martial arts action films.

    Did you know

    Bruce Lee became a household name all by the age of 33. He was an accomplished martial artist, directed and/or starred in 24 films, along with television shows and other media campaigns.

  13. 50th Anniversary Friends and Family Vans
  14. Year: 2016
    Styles: Low tops
    ; Colorways: Black/white
    50th Anniversary Friends and Family Vans
    photo source: Thecoolshoeshine via Ebay

    Although Vans released fiftieth anniversary shoes to the general public, they also designed specific shoes for employees and their families. These rare shoes come in a black/white colorway floral print. Because they were made for such a specific demographic, these shoes were rare upon release and even more difficult to find now.

    Did you know

    The publicly released fiftieth anniversary collection was approved by Steven Van Doren, the son of Vans cofounder Paul Van Doren.

  15. Lords of Dogtown Sample
  16. Year: 2001
    Styles: Low tops
    ; Colorways: Dark blue/light blue
    Lords of Dogtown Sample
    photo source: Boost.jump.878 via Ebay

    Vans, which the skating community popularized in the 1970s, designed special commemorative shoes for everyone involved in creating the film “The Lords of Dogtown.” The movie centers on the Z-boys, a real life group of teenagers from Venice, CA who became skating legends. The shoes are dark blue low tops with the name “Lords of Dogtown” written in a cross pattern. Purchasing a pair second hand can cost around $500.

    Did you know

    Vans purchased controlling interest in Vans Warped Tour, an alternative music festival, in 2001. The event occurred annually for 25 years.

  17. 1976 Vintage Vans
  18. Year: 1976
    Styles: High tops
    ; Colorways: White
    1976 Vintage Vans
    photo source: ebay

    These vintage vans are from 1976, the decade that marked the brand’s lasting relationship with skateboarding. This is a preliminary version of the Sk8-Hi style. The canvas fabric makes the shoes less structured and defined. They look more like Converse than Vans, especially because of the rubber toe covering that Vans no longer uses in their designs.The seller claims that these shoes could even be samples that never made it to market, making them one of the rarest Vans styles ever made. With that said, it does share the title.

    Did you know

    Vans actually filed for bankruptcy in 1984 and the lead executives worried that they’d have to close operations. Unexpectedly, the company bounced back three years later.

  19. Custom Vans
  20. Year: Ongoing
    Styles: Any
    ; Colorways: Any
    Custom Vans
    photo source: Kaycee.Custom

    A list of rare Vans wouldn’t be complete without mentioning custom Vans. Since its inception, Vans have been perfect for customization and the founders took advantage of making quite a few one-offs for their personal collections. Today, customers can make their own Vans on the website, creating totally unique designs to meet their needs. As a result, all custom Vans are technically the rarest ever made since no two are alike. Plus, unlike some of the collectibles and collaborations, they won’t break the bank.

    Did you know

    Known for their shoes, Vans launched an apparel line in 2006 made for skating and other activities.


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