Given the chance to collaborate on a pair of Vans, most designers tend to gravitate toward one of the Californian skate giant’s most iconic models: some laidback Slip-Ons, say, or maybe the timeless Sk8-Hi. But when Vault by Vans—the shoe brand’s more exclusive, fashion-friendly imprint—approached the cult LA label Goodfight about a potential linkup, the team immediately inquired about working on a far deeper cut. Tomorrow, Goodfight’s spin on the Vans Style 93 LX—a Mary Jane-style women’s sneaker circa 1994—officially drops. It’s the young menswear line’s first-ever footwear collaboration, and it is easily one of the freakiest, most original kicks to hit shelves all year.
“Mary Janes have always been in the DNA of our brand,” says Goodfight creative director Julia Chu, who notes that a pair appeared in the label’s debut lookbook from 2018. “Mary Janes are really classic, but they’re still a little bit left-of-center for men,” adds Calvin Nguyen, the brand’s designer. “With Goodfight, we try to push guys into wearing things they might not typically pick out.”
Chu first stumbled upon the Style 93 while scrolling through the website of PillowHeat, a Vans historian and collector in London, and knew instantly it was the right fit for the collab. Vault by Vans designer Taka Hayashi agreed, and together, the team set about updating the model’s decades-old specs. That meant overhauling the footbed to give it more of a unisex fit, adding sophisticated panels of suede to the uppers, tweaking the shape and finish of the buckles, and replacing the rippled outsole with Vans’ classic waffle sole. “As an LA brand, it was really important for us to have the waffle,” says Caleb Lin, Goodfight’s brand director.
But the thing that truly makes Goodfight’s Vans so distinctive is what’s sitting on top: A pair of detachable plastic orchids, inspired by vintage shoelace clips that Chu once gave Nguyen for his birthday. “When we first pitched the orchids, we thought Vans would think we’re crazy,” Lin says, laughing. “But Taka’s eyes lit up.” The orchid was chosen as a nod to both the flower’s cultural significance throughout Asia and the American tradition of prom corsages. And when they’re not sprucing up your footwear, Chu suggests, they also work great as hair clips or boutonnieres.
All together, it adds up to a sneaker that’s singular and innovative in every possible way—not the easiest thing to pull off when working with a brand as familiar and time-tested as Vans. It’s arriving during a particularly momentous year for Goodfight, which opened its first retail location in LA this January, shortly before dressing Everything Everywhere All at Once co-director Daniel Kwan for the Oscars. “We started working on this project before the pandemic,” Lin says, “so we’re just so excited and grateful that it’s finally here.”
The shoes will drop in both black and white alongside a special Goodfight x Vans clothing collection—featuring a perfectly boxy varsity jacket, a satin camp collar shirt, and two graphic tees—at Goodfight tomorrow, July 24, before landing on Vans.com and at select Vault by Vans retailers on July 25.