Converse vs Vans: What's The Difference?

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As a sneaker fan like us, it's likely you've wondered what the differences are between Converse and Vans shoes considering they're some of the most popular trainers for everyday wear around right now.

Well with both consistently featured as some of the best sneakers for summer, we'd argue there's never been a better time to learn more about these two iconic and revolutionary shoe brands.

We've therefore put together a guide that compares some of the similarities and differences between their designs and price tags before we come to a verdict on which of the two we think is best.

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With both brands still producing new shoes to this day, like the Pokémon Converse All Stars and the entire KITH x Vans Collection, we feel it's important to know a little bit more about the two before you add either to your sneaker collection.

Table of Contents

So, to kick things off, let's go back to where it all began by discussing the history behind Converse and Vans...

Converse vs Vans - History

Converse was the first of the two companies to launch, debuting in 1908 as the Converse Rubber Shoe Company in Massachusetts, USA.

Back then, the company specialised in a type of rubber footwear called galoshes. However, by 1915, the company started to develop athletic footwear to improve sales.

This eventually spawned the first Converse All Stars which, as evidenced by these Chuck Taylor All Stars featured in our list of the Best Converse, still get made to this day thanks to their timeless design.

Converse product image of a white and black Chuck Taylor All Star.
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Credit: Converse

The Chuck Taylor name was later added in honour of Charles Hollis “Chuck” Taylor, a basketball player-turned-salesman and ambassador for the brand.

This is because the Converse All Stars were originally some of the best basketball shoes around.

However, recent years have seen them transition into some of the most versatile lifestyle sneakers tailored more towards the fashion industry, as exhibited by the "One Star" COMME des GARÇONS collaboration.

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COMME des GARÇONS x Converse One Star Ox product image of a black and white low-top with a red heart and star on the side.
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Credit: Converse

You then have to fast-forward to 1966 to see the debut of The Van Doren Rubber Company, which was opened in California by brothers Paul Van Doren and Jim Van Doren, along with partners Gordon Lee and Serge Delia.

The brand gained popularity in the early '70s as skateboarders took a liking to the rugged design of the Style #44 deck shoes, now more commonly known today as the Vans Authentics.

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Vans product image of a classic black and white pair of Authentic's.
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Credit: Vans

Vans leaned into their popularity within the skateboarding community by releasing more colourful #95s, now known as the Eras, and #36s, known as the Old Skools with the now infamous side stripes.

The first Sk8-His were introduced in 1978 as well, giving skaters an even more functional pair of sneakers due to the additional ankle protection and support.

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Vans product image of black and white high-top Sk8-Hi's.
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Credit: Schuh

Due to their timeless designs, both brands are still thriving to this day, releasing new colourways and designs each year that are, more often than not, universally loved.

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Converse vs Vans - Price

With their histories covered, you may now be wondering which of the two sneakers is the cheapest?

Generally speaking, Converse and Vans shoes are similarly priced across most models.

This is evidenced by these black Old Skools, featured in our list of the best Vans shoes, costing around the same as a comparable pair of white Chuck Taylor All Stars.

Converse product image of white Chuck Taylor All Star's with red and blue accents.
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Credit: Pro:Direct

However, you may find some Converse models to be slightly more expensive than Vans, particularly if you're looking at the brand's top-of-the-range options.

The difference isn't huge though, which is worth keeping in mind when deciding between the two.

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Converse vs Vans - Design

On the surface, both sneakers can appear quite similar in their designs, particularly as they're both typically made from canvas. As an aside, check out Crep Protect along with our guide to cleaning Vans and Converse shoes right here.

That said, there are a few subtle differences to note between the two, for example, Converse shoes are typically slightly narrower than Vans, meaning they can sometimes be a little tricky to wear if you have wider feet.

Converse and Vans product image of a pair of black All Star's next to black Old Skool's.
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Credit: Converse and Vans

However, Converse sneakers are incredibly varied, offering both low and high tops in almost every colour imaginable. This helps with their versatility as there is usually a style of Converse sneakers out there to suit every outfit.

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Vans, on the other hand, tend to be super functional thanks to the brand's skateboarding background. Not only are the shoes rugged, but they're also incredibly grippy due to their non-slip rubber outsoles for skating.

They also feature additional padding around the heels, mainly for protection; however, the padding should also help increase how comfortable they are to wear.

Which Should You Buy?

Much like choosing between Jordan 1s and Air Force 1s, deciding which you should be is tricky to answer as it will ultimately come down to personal style and preference.

That said, for skateboarding, Vans are unrivaled; however, for everyday wear, we'd argue that Converse sneakers are better, simply down to how easy they are to style thanks to their versatile design.

Keep in mind though that Converse shoes can, on occasion, be slightly more expensive than Vans, although the difference is usually marginal.

Overall, we'd recommend finding both sneakers in a store and trying them on to see which of the two feels and suits you best, particularly if you're completely undecided between them.

Read More: Best Air Force 1s - Our Top Picks