Vans is finally testing the waters with the release of the brand’s first-ever skate-inspired surf booties and fly-less swim trunks. Both pieces are innovative designs for the traditionally skate-oriented company, and Max Vorlop (Vans Senior Apparel Designer) says that experimentation is at the root of all their surf designs. “The whole spirit of what we’re trying to do in surf is experimentation,” he tells us. “And if we’re holding ourselves back in any way we’re infringing upon that experimentation and so we’re really trying to make the best product available.”
The new surf booties (featuring Vans iconic checkerboard detailing) come in two variations: mid and hi, making them usable in warm and cold water conditions. Both variations feature engineered Vans Surf rubber formula and a dipped outsole to provide optimum grip over the sides—making true buddies out of you and your board. The mid features a perforated neoprene upper with ports in the sidewall, preventing water from building up and helping to regulate cold temperatures, while the hi features a liquid rubber-dipped upper for consistent warmth.
Then there’s the true stunner: the surf trunks, which are available in salmon and black. According to Vorlop, the team was primarily interested in the board short because it was a category of garment that had not been revisited in design since its first introduction in the ’50s.
“I’ve been designing board shorts for a really long time and I think it’s always been a conversation on the table—like, maybe we should do this thing, but it’s just scary to do something different,” Vorlop explains. “What’s been great about the team that I work with at Vans is that they agreed that it’s scary to get rid of the fly, but let’s just do it and see what happens.”
The process started with the team looking at a basic board short template and asking themselves how they can make it better. “The more I thought about it, the more I would say, ‘This piece doesn’t make sense’ and ‘That piece doesn’t make sense.’ Take the fly for instance, you’re lying on your board when you’re paddling. To have all that junk between your stomach and your board seems kinda weird. To have the fly up against your junk, that’s kinda weird. And the inseam of the board short on the inside of your thigh, that seems weird.”
He continues, “Basically, there are all these things that we’ve just been doing forever because that’s the way it’s been done, so I started from the ground up and thought, ‘How can we do this in a way that makes more sense?’ And every design decision was in favor of making the board short more comfortable and perform better in the water.”
The result was a patent-pending side-closure system that provides a solution for the removal of the fly. Additionally, they took the seams and taped them internally for greater comfort. Adding to the overall comfort of the shorts (which we tested out in the waters of Hawaii) is the use of Dupont Sorona fabrication, a fiber known for its softness. In fact, the trunks were so soft, that we wore them for the entire day—out of the water as well.
Vans is set to release the Surf Boot and the Surf Trunk on 13 April.