(Featured: Welcome Skate Store blog, June 18th 2015, view the original here.)
We started The Welcome Footwear Guide to give you as thorough opinion possible on some the new footwear models coming into the store. However, things like work and injuries have a talent for putting back the pace on footwear reviews… Which take a while to put together regardless of those. So with this in mind, we’re bringing a new take on our reviews.
“Out the box…” serves as a way to highlight some of the new footwear models coming into the store. We’ll still be bringing concise reviews in the Welcome Footwear Guide format (though slightly revamped) as we previously have with the HUF Dylan, Sutter and Emerica Figueroa. This just gives us a chance to keep you informed from the second they hit they the shelf as what makes a shoe really worth skating in isn’t always apparent at a first glance.
These posts will provide an up close and personal look at the features of new shoes arriving on the store shelf. From the construction, materials used, detailing and little things which aren’t apparent or make sense at first glance. We hope this feature will give you a better idea of how these perform skate whilst we’re out skating in the very same shoes to bring you a full review.
With what feels like an endless wait for it’s release and all at Welcome very stoked on it’s arrival; we’re starting out with what’s looking like one of the best pro models of the year; the Vans Rowley [SOLOS].
At a first glance, it’s fairly obvious that the [SOLOS] takes influence from the Vans Era. The conception of the shoe actually came when Rowley decided he wanted a shoe with a more similar feel to the original Vans ‘Made In The USA’ Eras that he skated when he first got on the team. The silhouette resembles an Era while the feel is different yet familiar.
The inner of the shoe is lined with canvas, whereas Era Pros usually utilise nylon or in the case of the ’46’ editions like the recent Chris Pfanner/Anti Hero colourway – leather. The collar of the shoe is also more thinly padded to aid in achieving the slimmed down feel of older Vans that Geoff wanted to recreate. With the minor substitution of padding allowing for a heel that isn’t as broad. This helps the shoe wrap and mould to shape of your foot without compromising protection or comfort. As you also can see in the previous photo, the heel of the upper sole is also raised slightly higher than an Era, as is the vulc sole itself, helping prolong the life of the suede by taking longer to expose the fabric which leads to hotspot areas. Unfortunately, Van’s Duracap vulc bumper hasn’t been utilised with this model, however this may be down to the aforementioned use of a slightly higher vulc wrap; negating the need for it.
The canvas side panel that stems from the toe to the heel of the shoe is also wrapped with an another layer of suede around the heel box to increase stability and heel lock. The removable insole sits directly on top of the vulcanised sole and due the slight adjustment of the higher up vulc – creates as little possible space between foot, sole and board. The shoe features a slightly different version of the Ultracush HD insole that you would find in other Pro Vans. The differences being it lacks the gel pad in the heel to allow further boardfeel. Though obviously it may be worrying this would lead to a heel bruise, the sockliner is spongy and resilient enough to allow both comfort and cushioning despite lacking this feature.
Getting back to the upper of the shoe, the [SOLOS] mixes a placement of suede and canvas. This combination might seem reminiscent of an Old Skool but the suede recesses along the side panel to prevent the canvas from getting grated by griptape. Obviously, the side panel may be a worrying feature of this shoe, however Vans’ inner Duracap technology sees the panel lined with an layer of thick canvas/rubber material that was first introduced with the Chima Pro. This runs all the way along the side of the shoe, where it is triple stitched to the outer at the most obvious contact point. This feature will not only increase the life span of the canvas area of the shoe, but the suede toe box as it is also backed by the Duracap. It’s also worth noting that while this colourway has a canvas side panel, the ‘Dress Blues’ are all over suede.
Without sacrificing durability, the use of canvas rather suede for this area of the shoe allows for the desired slim, close to the foot feel Geoff wanted from his pro model. The laces are also positioned higher which is another feature adopted from the original shape of the Era which will help prevent lace blow outs. Also the classic Vans tab is held in position with a thin strip of canvas on top of the whole panel which may absorb some of the damage the laces may take. If this is the case, the strip would be likely to wear away and though it may affect the shoes appearance very slightly, it wouldn’t affect performance as this thin piece of material doesn’t connect areas of the side panel in any important way other than hosting the Vans tag. The tongue is also made of canvas allowing for increased breathability and it adorned with a custom label for Rowley along with classic Vans detailing on the inside of the tongue.