If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
Most big-name sneaker brands have earned their status by continually releasing new shoes and expanding their collections. But Vans is different. The original California skate-surf brand has made itself a staple in the sneaker world with just four silhouettes — the Old Skool, the Authentics, the Sk8-Hi, and the Slip-On — that are as cool now as they were back in the Seventies and Eighties.
Seen on the feet of everyone from A$AP Rocky to David Beckham to cool skater kids around the world, Vans sneakers are also special for their universality. Anyone can secure a pair of Vans (unlike many “it” sneakers), making them a feature in just about everyone’s closet.
If you don’t have a pair of Vans (or need a refresh), pick some up now at Vans.com. Rock them with just about any casual outfit, or dress them up with chinos and a button-up shirt when headed into the office.
What Are the Best Vans Alternatives?
There is one downside to Vans’ availability: everyone is wearing them. But, if you’re looking for something more unique with the same versatile, skater-inspired style, you’re in luck. The best Vans alternatives range from budget-friendly beater sneakers to bold designer kicks with a throwback look.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best Vans alternatives to shop right now.
1. Cariuma OCA High
Cariuma is one of our favorite sneaker brands, offering clean, high-quality shoes with a focus on eco-consciousness. The brand takes an ethical approach to reducing waste by creating sneakers that last longer — which also means you won’t need to buy new shoes so soon. With a black canvas upper, contrast stitching, and vintage simplicity, these OCA Highs from Cariuma have a similar look to the Sk8-Hi, making them one of the best Vans alternatives around.
2. Greats Wooster
Brooklyn brand Greats expertly turns staple sneakers into upscale footwear worthy of any office. The brand’s Wooster sneakers are a great example, upgrading a Vans-inspired slip-on silhouette with premium materials and a grown-up colorway. These materials include full-grain leather and suede, which not only increase the lifespan of the sneakers (compared to regular canvas shoes) but also give them a sophisticated edge.
3. Rothy’s RS01
With a knit upper, a padded collar, and a contoured footbed, these RS01 sneakers from Rothy’s are extremely comfortable right out of the box. Better still, this recycled knit upper lets you throw the shoes in the washing machine to clean and sanitize. In terms of looks, the sneakers have a low-key style that’s easy to pair with casual outfits, although the quality knit material means you can pull them off with dressier attire as well.
4. SeaVees Legend
Originally launched in 1964, SeaVees was one of the first-ever casual sneaker brands. After a 40-year dormancy, the brand was re-launched in 2008, reviving casual looks from back in the day. Now, SeaVees one of our favorite places to score throwback kicks, and they make some of the best Vans alternatives on the market. These Legend sneakers showcase a classic look and a high-quality twill upper. They also come in several straightforward colorways to match your personal style.
5. Adidas Nizza RF
You don’t need to skateboard to rock these Adidas skate shoes. The sneakers re-mix a simple slip-on silhouette with extra rubber on the toe and a double-layer canvas upper. This slight tweak on the slip-on adds some serious style points, in our opinion. A multi-lingual Adidas logo is also stamped on the tongue, breaking up the all-white palette (the shoes also come in black, off-white, or pink).
6. Madewell Sidewalk Low-Top
Madewell got its start with high-quality jeans, but, with these Sidewalk high-tops, they’ve proven that they can do sneakers as well. With a single brown stripe, a white upper, a blue heel tab, and a grey tongue, they look effortlessly modern. But they’re not all good looks: Madewell uses MWL Cloudlift insoles that make the sneakers especially comfortable and capable of long walks or days on your feet.
7. Nike Retro GTS Sneaker
Nineties skaters are the current inspiration for many stylish dudes, and these Nike Retro GTS sneakers nail the look. Featuring a multi-layer canvas upper, steel eyelets, and a small Nike swoosh on the upper, the sneakers are subtle yet capable of tying together an outfit. Team them with baggy chinos, a plain tee, and a beanie for the modern skater look.
8. Ralph Lauren Keaton Sneaker
Looking to introduce some designer flair to your everyday slip-ons? Check out these Keaton sneakers from Ralph Lauren. They come in two eye-catching colors (college green or wine red) and feature the beloved Ralph Lauren bear embroidered over a “Polo” logo. Elevate your poolside look by wearing them with colorful swim trunks and a casual button-up.
9. Off-White Vulcanized Low Top Sneaker
Off-White is famous for combining streetstyle, designer prestige, and Virgil Abloh’s post-fashion, DIY touches. These low top sneakers are a good example, taking a classic canvas skate shoe and adding signature Off-White touches like a removable zip-tie tag, arrow X logos, and an orange rubber accent on the inner sole. We love them because you can wear them like any regular skate shoes, but it’s easy to tell that they’re anything but.
10. Gucci Tennis 1977 Slip-On Sneaker
As usual, Gucci knew how to go (tastefully) over the top with these slip-on sneakers. Rainbow Gucci GG monograms are embroidered all over the sneaker’s upper, and a woven synthetic fabric adds another layer of eccentricity. They’re also very comfortable — largely thanks to a terry cloth footbed — making them wearable without socks (say, after a day at the beach).