Vans changed its popular sneaker styles to be more comfortable — and I think they're worth the extra cost

Business Insider US

  • Vans just launched ComfyCush sneakers, a new line that took the brand's classic designs and re-engineered them for comfort.
  • The styles, which include Authentics, Eras, Old Skools, Slip-Ons, Sk8-His, feature cushioned foam midsoles, padded insoles with added arch support, and one-piece interiors.
  • Compared to the original Core Classics Vans, the ComfyCush sneakers are a huge improvement in comfort.
  • I had previously given up on wearing Vans because I found them souncomfortable, but the new ComfyCush sneakers have given me more than enough reasons to return to the classic styles.
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A few years ago, I bought a pair of leather Vans Old Skools, and I loved everything about them - until I put them on to wear. After just a few hours, every part of my foot was in pain. The ankle collar rubbed on my heel, the stitched layers of leather at the front of the shoe dug into the top of my foot, and the cushioning in the insole was non-existent. With every step, my feet urged me to take them off and to never wear them again.

Hoping that they'd get more comfortable with time, I wore them once more before tapping out from the pain. It took these insoles to make them wearable, but I still told myself I wouldn't buy another pair of Vans, as I firmly believe that shoes should be comfortable straight out of the box. I had given up on the idea of buying any more pairs - until I caught wind of its new comfort technology called ComfyCush.

The Vans ComfyCush collection took classic, original silhouettes and re-engineered them to be more comfortable. They feature foam midsoles, padded insoles with added arch support, and one-piece interiors to eliminate seams rubbing on your feet. You'll find your favourite styles, like the Authentics, Eras, Old Skools, Slip-Ons, Sk8-His, and Zushi SFs, all re-engineered with comfort in mind.

With the hopes that the new comfort technology would make a real difference, I decided to give Vans another try. I went with the ComfyCush Old Skools, so that I'd be able to compare them directly to my other pair - and the comfort improvements turned out to be remarkable.

The differences:

My first impression of the ComfyCush Vans was that they're strikingly similar to the original models, so out of the gate, that was a major plus. As someone with a real passion for sneakers, I almost always hate when classic designs are altered or "updated" because it usually becomes a shoe that's much different than the version that's actually iconic. In the case of ComfyCush Vans, there are several notable differences, but none of which take away from the overall aesthetic of the shoe - every change has a distinct purpose.

The most important difference is the sole. While Vans typically have hard rubber soles, the ComfyCush midsoles are more cushioned and softer to the touch. The outsole has also been updated for the better. The original waffle pattern still exists, but it's layered on top of the visible ComfyCush sole. Rather than being a solid vulcanised rubber outsole, the layered design makes the shoe lighter and more flexible.

Other differences include cushioned insoles (pictured above), canvas interior ankle collars instead of leather, and one-piece interior construction, which can be felt better than it can be seen. On the original design, the different panels of the shoe (toe cap, tongue, lace stays, and the body) tend to overlap at the seams, which can cause pressure points on your feet. With the new design, that's no longer an issue.

Why I prefer them over the originals:

I personally like the ComfyCush Vans more than the originals for three main reasons: an unchanged aesthetic, superb comfort, and the price.

I have to reiterate how close they look to the originals because it's very impressive. Yes, when comparing them side-by-side (as pictured below), you'll spot slight differences in the shape, the insole, and the interior lining, but none of those changes will make you - or anyone else - think that you're wearing something other than the classic California skate shoe.

In terms of wearability and comfort, the difference is night and day. In the one month that I've owned the ComfyCush Old Skools, I've worn them more times than I've worn the other pair I bought more than a year and a half ago. I can wear them all day long with zero discomfort, whether I'm doing a lot of walking or sitting at my desk for a majority of the day. I would assume that very few people still wear the original vans for performance while skateboarding, but I would imagine that the new ComfyCush sneakers are much more forgiving on impact from landing tricks - or bailing out.

Arguably the best part about the ComfyCush sneakers is the price. Ranging from $60 to $80 depending on the style, ComfyCush Vans are only $10 more than their Core Classics (original) counterparts. The increase in price is expected, but definitely fair considering everything that it improves. At $60 to $80, they're still a lot more affordable than most sneakers on the market, whether it's a classic lifestyle silhouette or a new performance shoe.

The bottom line:

I've been trying to think of one solid reason why anyone - not just me - would choose the classics over the new ComfyCush models and I really can't come up with one. The comfort and fit are outstanding and the extra money is too small of a price difference to justify saving your money.

The Old School Vans sneakers can cost R800 in SA, while ComfyCush sneakers retail for almost R1,100.

Before, I used to like the idea of Vans, but the lack of comfort stopped me from actually liking them. Now, thanks to ComfyCush, I can finally appreciate them for what they are - a shoe that's affordable, classic, and comfortable.

Ultimately, the ComfyCush sneakers are a breath of fresh air from Vans. Whether you've struggled to find comfort in some of the other models like I have or you've been wearing the brand your whole life, I strongly recommend the trying a pair of ComfyCush Vans. Your feet will thank you.

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