Vans really went all out on the promo packaging for the Vans LXVI collection
, though we're guessing that won't be how the retail editions are housed. We're obsessed with Vans' core silhouettes, the Vault line and how Syndicate is pretty much the definitive delivery of top tier product, but we appreciate that a brand needs to evolve and those wide dad BBQ shoes aren't necessarily the alternative, plus a love of vulc could switch to a cup sole at any given time. LXVI still pays tribute to the brand's 1966 genesis and retaliates against bulk, excess padding and responds to a need for board feel. Plus action sports is big and these are on sale at Foot Locker too.
As a collection, you can see the cues from old models — the Variable makes some nods to the Era and Authentic, the Ortho is Old Skool and the Secant has some Chukka in it. The Graph is something very different (though there's Authentic in the mix too) though and we're not huge fans of that Euro slimline look. Opening up a metal case that had a padlock to reveal Vans' lightest shoe ever was a little jarring, with the minimalism giving it a feel of Geraldo opening Al Capone's vault on live TV back in the day. Having been wowed by the Nike SB Zoom FP in 2010 (a very underrated dry run for the Koston 1) we can see parallels here, and it's so minimal it's barely there.
The Rapidweld upper is stitchless in a Hyperfuse style, ActionFit merges running and skate fits, WaffleFlex updates the classic outsole patterning with Free-esque siping and while PleasureCuff sounds like something Durex might manufacture, it's a neoprene and lycra blend at the heel and collar that joins those applications in making the shoe extremely comfortable. That stitched heel counter's a nice touch too. Despite the name, UltraCush Lite isn't weed-related — it's actually a cushioning system in the footbed. Of all the Vans LXVI releases, the Graph is the most ambitious in terms of showing how applying more new Vans innovations can result in less, but as everyday wears go with shorts or denim, we're feeling the Variable and Inscribe's more substantial but light and equally comfy takes on Chukka Low and deck shoe icons.
Still, this is a serious undertaking and we look forward to seeing how some of the newly developed applications enter other Vans lines. As old folks in an industry that needs to engage with younger consumers as an emphasis on tech emerges, we're probably too happy to look down at a pair of Half Cabs every day to fully embrace brand new silhouettes, bearing in mind that we haven't fully taken to a new Vans shoe since the Lampin. Still, we think UltraCush could eliminate everyday foot pain without the need for a medical card or visit to a Kush clinic...