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When it comes to sneakers, Converse and Vans are the top two brands that immediately come to mind.
With distinct styles that have achieved iconic status, they are instantly recognizable and well loved globally.
But if you have to choose between the two, which is the clear winner?
In this Converse vs. Vans comparison, that’s what we will attempt to answer.
Let’s settle the debate once and for all by taking a deep dive into what these two shoe brands have to offer.
Table of Contents
- 1 Converse vs. Vans: At a Glance
- 2 About Converse Sneakers
- 3 About Vans Sneakers
- 4 Similarities Between Converse and Vans
- 5 Differences Between Vans and Converse
- 6 Converse vs. Vans for Comfort
- 7 Converse vs. Vans for Skating
- 8 Converse vs. Vans for Lifting
- 9 Converse vs. Vans for Wide Feet
- 10 Converse vs. Vans for Walking
- 11 FAQs
- 12 Converse vs. Vans: How To Choose
Converse vs. Vans: At a Glance
|Most Popular Line||Chuck Taylor All-Star||Old Skool|
|Key Features||Ankle patch, diamond-patterned sole, canvas material||Side stripe, waffle-patterned sole, vulcanized rubber construction|
|Insoles||Flat and firm||Flat and firm|
|Fit||True to size but often half a size bigger, especially in terms of length||True to size|
|Flexibility in Style||Versatile||More limited by comparison|
About Converse Sneakers
Launched in the 1900s, Converse has a storied legacy of being one of the most popular brands in the world.
Like most companies that dealt with rubber at the time, many of their very first products were those you could make with rubber, like galoshes. These products were also seasonal.
Then the founder decided that having his employees working year-round would be more efficient, so they shifted to making athletic shoes.
And creating shoes for basketball, which was gaining popularity at the time, became the brand’s focus.
Converse released the Non-Skid, a high-top basketball-specific sneaker that was later renamed Chuck Taylor All Star.
Mr. Charles “Chuck” Taylor, whose name is on the All Star, was hired by the brand to tour the country and advertise — something brands did a lot in those days.
But what made Converse and Chuck Taylor different from other brands was that they would put on clinics for coaches and players; later on, they would take the coaches to stores and have them order the All Star shoes.
So coaches who were learning how to play and teach basketball considered the All Star made by Converse and marketed by Chuck Taylor the shoe that was made for basketball.
Later on, however, the All Star became a shoe made for casual wear instead of professional sports — a status it retains today.
And it’s graced the feet of not only professional basketball players but also pop stars like Beyonce and models like Gigi Hadid.
Converse’s bestsellers include the following:
- Chuck Taylor All Star Classic High Top Shoe
- Chuck Taylor All Star Lugged Leather
- Chuck Taylor All Star Lift Platform Canvas
Also, Converse has expanded its product lines beyond just the All Star. They now have a variety of sneakers in different styles.
Additionally, the brand also has apparel for women and accessories such as hats and bags.
About Vans Sneakers
Established way later than Converse, Vans only had three styles of shoes when they opened their first store in 1966, and they would make them on-site and sell them directly to their customers.
One of these is #44, which is now known as the Vans Authentic.
At the time, it was what the founders thought would prove to be better than their competitors’, as it was made with a proprietary rubber formula that made the soles super grippy.
A few years later, skateboarding became exceedingly popular.
And in Anaheim, the local community of teen skateboarders found that in the Authentic, they could have shoes that would provide them better comfort, control, and support when skateboarding.
And from this began Vans Authentic’s branding as the ultimate skater shoe.
Two years later, Vans released another skateboarding shoe, the Era, which quickly became the shoe of choice for many skateboarders — which it still is today.
From these early iterations, Vans managed to retain most of the key defining features that set their shoes apart from other brands.
These include their patented waffle sole, classic Sidestripe design, and vulcanized rubber construction.
However, throughout its years in business, Vans has dealt with ebbs and flows; the company even had to file for bankruptcy at one point in 1984.
But by paying homage to their classics and owning and upgrading their retro style, they were not only able to make it back — they made it back bigger than before.
Today Vans is wildly popular among the general public, as well as celebrities like Jaden Smith and Russell Westbrook.
According to a survey about Vans’ brand awareness among sneaker owners conducted in 2022, 82% of those who were asked said they were aware of the brand, while around 35% said they liked the brand.
Vans’ bestsellers include the following:
Similarities Between Converse and Vans
Now while they have different roots, both Converse and Vans shoes have certain striking features that don’t make them all that different from each other.
In this section, we’ll explore their similarities.
One of the most important shared traits of the two shoe brands that need to be recognized in the Converse vs. Vans debate is that they both use canvas for their sneakers.
Converse uses canvas for the uppers of their footwear, which refers to the entire area above the sole that covers the foot. Vans does this as well.
Aside from canvas, both brands also leverage other materials, such as rubber and leather, to lend more character, structure, and durability to their shoes.
Diverse Product Range
Vans and Converse also offer various product lines and options beyond the shoe designs they’re associated with. Converse, for instance, has heeled sneakers besides their usual high-tops.
Vans, for their part, also have colorways that are not limited to their usual black and white.
Major Shift from Sports to Casual Wear
In terms of marketing, these brands were also originally designed to appeal to a sports crowd.
The All Star from Converse was originally designed to be a basketball shoe, while Vans was a trailblazer designing shoes for skateboarding.
However, both brands today feature shoes designed more for casual wear than athletics.
They’ve become synonymous with street style and a cool, edgy, or relaxed fashion aesthetic.
This is due to their popularity among famous rock bands in the ’70s. Punk icons opted for both brands because of the comfort and affordability they offer.
Beloved Among Young People
Finally, while Converse and Vans both appeal to a wide range of individuals, including men, women, and children, they’re particularly well-loved by young people — from teenagers to young adults.
Differences Between Vans and Converse
Now what about the differences between Vans and Converse?
Turns out, there’s quite a considerable number to contend with. Let’s delve into each difference in detail.
Both Converse and Vans shoes feature a multilayered design and use vulcanized construction to ensure optimal durability and comfort.
Their shoes are also great non-slip shoes, owing to their specific construction. The main difference between the two is the shape of the outsole.
Converse shoes have a diamond-patterned outsole that is made of gum rubber.
This material, according to the brand, heats up the more it’s used, which helps equip the shoes with non-slip properties.
Additionally, the diamond tread increases the shoes’ surface grip on areas that frequently touch the floor, such as the balls and the heels.
On the other hand, Vans shoes feature a proprietary waffle outsole that comes with foxing tape, which wraps around the shoes and contributes to their durability.
Another striking difference between the outsoles of these two brands is the thickness of their soles.
Vans shoes mostly have thin soles, making them great for a range of activities that benefit from a barefoot feel, such as running.
On the other hand, Converse shoes have generally thicker soles, so they offer great stability.
Insoles and Arch Support
When it comes to built-in insoles and arch support, both Converse and Vans don’t have much to offer.
While both Converse and Vans have flat, firm soles that require some breaking in before they can feel comfortable, Converse has less flexible insoles, making them less comfortable than Vans, especially for all-day use.
And for arch support, Converse falls a bit flat, especially their All Star sneakers.
In fact, according to podiatrists, these shoes can cause heel and arch pain, as well as tendinitis.
This is because shoes that do not have arch support force the ball and heel of your foot to bear your weight instead of having it distributed throughout your entire foot.
As such, you might experience pain or even injure your feet.
On the flip side, while many of Vans’ shoes also don’t have a lot of arch support, they feature new shoe designs fitted with a ComfyCush insole that provides more support.
More importantly, they’ve reinvigorated some of their traditional designs — like the Old Skool — with this cushion. This means those who like the classics but need more comfort and support now have a better option to consider.
Up next: how does Converse fit compared to Vans?
Both brands are designed to be true to size, but there are some subtle differences in the sizing of both brands.
Vans sneakers, for instance, tend to have roomier toe boxes, while Converse All Stars have notoriously narrow toe boxes.
Both brands also require a bit of breaking in so that they can conform to the shape of the feet better.
But compared to Vans, the sizing of Converse shoes is a bit trickier. Converse sneakers that have been broken in can be a bit bigger in terms of length.
By contrast, Vans offers shoes that are more true to size, even when they’ve been broken in.
Converse sneakers start from around $45, while Vans can go as low as $40.
Converse tops out at around $180, while you’ll find Vans sneakers that go beyond $200.
So when comparing the prices of Converse vs. Vans, keep in mind that while Converse has a slightly higher starting price, Vans offers more expensive shoe options.
Both Converse and Vans are great for streetwear, but in terms of being versatile enough to go with different outfits, Converse has more of an advantage.
Vans shoes — especially their Old Skool and Sk8-Hi shoes — have a distinctly rugged or edgy appearance, which may make them difficult to pair with cutesy or hyperfeminine outfits.
Meanwhile, Converse shoes can be more easily paired with all kinds of casual outfits; white All Stars, for instance, can go with dainty floral dresses and pastel tops.
Converse vs. Vans for Comfort
Now who wins in a Converse vs. Vans debate when it comes to certain goals or purposes?
When it comes to comfort, both Converse and Vans have advantages — and drawbacks.
Converse shoes have very narrow toe boxes, especially if they haven’t been broken in yet, which might constrict the feet.
And many of their models let water seep in, which is a drag during wet days.
Vans shoes, on the other hand, have been found to be great at absorbing impact.
Additionally, their shoes have higher sidewalls and reinforced toe bumpers to better protect the feet. Their shoes have also been redesigned with softer and more cushioned outsoles.
And with regular use, they will conform to the shape of your feet.
When it comes to all-day wear, the level of comfort you’ll experience with shoes from either brand will depend on how much walking or standing you’ll do.
Both shoes are not the most comfortable when it comes to all-day wear, but if you have to choose between the two, Vans sneakers are marginally more comfortable than Converse.
So are Vans more comfortable than Converse?
Yes, Vans shoes are more comfortable than your typical Converse shoes.
Converse vs. Vans for Skating
There are certain characteristics that you should expect from your skating shoes.
First off, they must be lightweight and flexible, so you can easily manipulate them as you ride the board. And they should be durable while also being comfortable and capable of providing great support.
More importantly, they must be equipped with shock absorption and ankle protection while allowing for free movement.
As far as these features are concerned, both brands score well.
Converse, in particular, is not only lightweight — it’s also breathable by virtue of its canvas material. So you’ll feel comfortable and cool while you’re on your board.
However, Vans — which released Era, the shoe that skaters prefer — is more durable. You get shoes that are not just long-lasting but also less likely to disintegrate while in use.
Plus, Vans sneakers are designed to provide great cushioning, which is important not just for comfort but also for safety.
When it comes to skateboarding shoes, Vans sneakers are better.
Converse is more breathable, but that’s the only advantage they offer over Vans.
Converse vs. Vans for Lifting
For lifting, how do Converse shoes vs. Vans shoes stack up against each other?
In terms of construction, there are a lot of similarities.
First, most of Vans and Converse’s most popular shoe lines are zero-drop shoes, which means there’s no difference in the height of the shoe’s forefoot and heel.
This means that when you wear them, your feet can properly align with the ground, which is important for stability, support, and safety when lifting.
Additionally, both brands use rubber in their soles, which is integral to the feel and stability of the feet against the ground.
And many of the shoes from both brands also feature canvas uppers, so you can expect breathability while you’re squatting or doing bench presses and deadlifts.
With all of that said, there are subtle differences between the two.
Chuck Taylor insoles, for instance, are firmer than most Vans insoles. As such, they feel a lot more comfortable if you’re lifting maximum loads.
Why? The slightly harder insole can help keep your feet firmly rooted to the ground, which can help you feel more stable and also aid in reducing the risks of injuries.
When it comes to lifting, Converse is the clear winner.
Their zero-drop shoes come with a firm insole so you can deadlift, squat, and bench press in relative comfort, compared to Vans.
Converse vs. Vans for Wide Feet
People with wide feet need shoes with ample toe boxes to avoid issues like blisters, toe cramping, and pain.
So when it comes to the discussion about whether Vans or Converse is better for wide feet, it’s crucial to note that Converse falls behind a bit.
The best thing about the brand’s range of shoes is that it offers a lot of sizes. But because the shoes have narrow toe boxes, those with wide feet may find them uncomfortable.
And while Converse now has a Wide Width line, many users still find that these wide variations’ toe boxes don’t feel that different from the regular-sized All Stars.
Vans, in stark contrast, not only designs shoes with wide toe boxes, but it also has a separate product line for those with wide feet, which many customers find incredibly comfortable due to the larger uppers and midsoles.
Vans, without a doubt. The brand’s range of wide shoes offers spacious toe boxes and ample room for those with wide feet.
Converse vs. Vans for Walking
If you’re choosing between Vans or Converse for walking, here’s what you need to know.
Both Converse and Vans feature canvas uppers, which make them lightweight and comfortable.
But other than that, both brands don’t offer much to make one or the other a great recommendation for those who need shoes that can be worn for all-day walking.
Vans is slightly better as it has product lines with marginally better arch support than All Star shoes.
The Vans sneakers also have softer insoles, which can make them more comfortable.
Vans, because Converse shoes have virtually zero arch support.
White Converse vs. White Vans: Which Is Better?
Both white Converse and Vans sneakers are aesthetically appealing and timeless.
But when it comes to function over form, Vans is still better in many ways.
It’s more comfortable and more durable. And it comes in various sizes for those with wide feet and starts from a more affordable price point.
Vans High-Tops vs. Converse High-Tops: Which Is Better?
As with their other product lines, both brands are also neck and neck when it comes to the function of their high tops.
However, this is one of those instances where you might want to consider style, especially as everything else seems to be on equal footing.
Converse All Star high-tops have achieved iconic status, which isn’t something that you’ll associate with Vans’ version, the Sk8-Hi.
If you’re eager for a timeless design and willing to accept the marginal difference in performance, then Converse is a worthy choice.
Is Converse or Vans More Popular?
Both brands appeal to their own crowds, and both are extremely popular.
But in terms of longevity in the market, Converse was established earlier, so it has a longer history of being entrenched in popular culture compared to Vans.
Why Do People Work Out in Converse or Vans?
Converse and Vans sneakers are built to be zero-drop shoes with excellent construction. This makes them shockproof and capable of providing stability and ensuring breathability during exercise sessions.
Converse vs. Vans: How To Choose
When it comes to deciding whether you should go with Converse or Vans, first consider the specific purpose of the sneaker.
If you want something that looks cool and stays stylish season after season, Converse is a good choice.
Similarly, Converse sneakers are better suited to those who like to lift. Their zero-drop design and firm insoles make them a safe, stable accessory for deadlifts, bench presses, and squats.
But if you want better performance on almost every criterion, Vans’ range of sneakers is the smarter choice. These shoes are more durable, comfortable, and better for wide feet.
In the end, though, your personal experience is the best indicator.
Don’t hesitate to give each of these brands a shot, check how their sneakers feel on you, and let that be the deciding factor.
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