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Ever since last summer I have been wearing my Vans slip-ons as my biking shoes whenever possible. They’re perfect in almost every regard: they’re slim and fit in my toes clips easily, the canvas dries quickly, they’re totally comfy all day so I don’t have to bring a change, and as long a I wear socks they keep pretty clean and fresh on the inside. I learned the hard way that as great as they are sock-less it only takes about 15 minutes before they begin to smell like death. I tried some Dr Scholl’s, which instead of absorbing the sweat stink and vaporizing it into a breath of baby powder as advertised, it did nothing more then create a vile smelling paste on the inside of the shoes that I had to scrub out with some Tide and a toothbrush. Needless to say, I have learned to appreciate the wonders of no-show socks.
After a year of abuse, they had been holding up really well with the exception of the outside corners, where the widest point in my foot is. The canvas everywhere else is holding together perfectly, but what started as a small tear has been spreading and makes me think this will be our last summer together. I intend to replace them with a new pair of slip-ons, but I know full well that pair is doomed to meet the same fate. This was until I read about Vans’ newest line of low-tops, the 45LX Fixed. They have re-inforced panels on the front, covering right where mine are falling apart, and reflective materials on the heel and in the laces. Perfect. Sounds like these will hopefully be a solution for me, and a smart move on Van’s part. Having been associated with skateboarding in the past, they are apparently trying to attach themselves to the growing fixster culture.
My concern is the blatant advertising plow and marketing focus to manufacture an association between their product and a growing culture. Clever? Of course. Transparent? Very much so. Even in my own blog, when I tag a post “fixed gear” my hits skyrocket, so now your sneaker is coming up on the same search terms. I guess that’s just part of the fixster / faux messenger culture though. Styles and accessories that are based in practical uses while riding a bike have taken on a culture of their own and extended far beyond their utilitarian roots. The examples are endless: rolled up jeans, messenger bags, cycling caps, fixed gear bikes, and now your sneakers. Which comes first? Is Vans realizing a need in the market and catering to it, or are they telling a growing group of people that they need these shoes to be part of the scene?