With all the gaming (and gaming-related) news that drops in the weeks surrounding E3, you’d be forgiven if you missed a few enticing tidbits. For example, maybe your copy of this week’s Nintendo email newsletter, complete with its focus on the recent collaboration between Nintendo and California clothier Vans, mysteriously ended up in your spam folder.
Perhaps you passed over my pointer post concerning the Vans x Nintendo fashion collection from last month. Maybe you even missed the scuttlebutt when a Euro shoe blog leaked word of the line back in May. That is certainly understandable.
But E3 is over and summer is here, and there’s never been a better time to talk about great new kicks. (For the record, there is never, strictly speaking, a bad time to talk about great new kicks.)
Available for a limited time, the Vans x Nintendo collection can be found at Vans retail locations as well as via the Vans online store, while limited designs (including an exclusive Super Mario Villains low-top) can also be procured from your local Journeys.
My interests were definitely piqued by the high-tops, and I was thrilled when a pair of the SK8-HI Slim Gold Console edition shoes arrived on my doorstep. Presented in a gorgeous NES-inspired box—which was itself shipped inside a larger mystery block—everything about the product screams quality.
These Slim models are a bit more streamlined than the standard Vans high-tops, but they still offer solid ankle support—always a good idea in a skate shoe—and a supple, springy sole. While a lot of the Vans x Nintendo designs are intentionally garish (I’m looking at you, Donkey Kong), the Gold Console edition instead takes a more delicate approach.
A photo posted by Z. (@hipsterplease) on Jun 22, 2016 at 3:15pm PDT
In place of a standard tongue tag, they feature the image from the original Super Mario Bros. NES cartridge, with the iconic brand’s side-stripe rendered as a series of golden Mario -esque environment blocks. This gold motif is repeated on the backs of the shoes on the Vans “Off the Wall” logo back-cap.
Like all the Vans x Nintendo models I’ve seen, these feature black, waffled tread with “GAME” and “OVER!” printed in white on the right and left shoes, respectively. Still, perhaps the most masterful element is the tiny custom shoestring aglets, which on the Gold Console shoes resemble tiny NES controllers.
From the overall construction quality to the nuanced approached to Nintendo branding, the Vans x Nintendo Gold Console edition shoes easily satisfy both sneaker enthusiasts and fashion-forward gamers. (And their $70 price tag makes them a cool $5 cheaper than the other high-tops in the collection.)
As such, my gripes are minor. The white, all-canvas construction gives them a certain sturdiness without making them overly weighty or bulky, but it also makes them that much harder to keep clean. Similarly, while the gold brick motif is both finely detailed and subtle, a sewn-on design—like more traditional Vans—would’ve been that much nicer.
Still, these shoes walk a fine line between casual and classy that makes them as adaptable as they are adorable. In fact, I liked mine so much that I made my way to the local mall (which is, apparently, still a thing) and hit up the Vans store for another pair.
I scored my second favorites, the SK8-HI Mario and Luigi design, at the $75 retail price. They’re bulkier and much less subdued by design, but the contrast of the printed canvas/black suede uppers and the awesome Wii Remote aglets make them the perfect “play shoes.”
While I was there I also chipped in a few bucks to the Vans-supported A.skate Foundation, a registered 501c3 nonprofit that helps children with autism connect with their world through skateboarding. So, while you’re perusing all the amazing (and amazingly varied) designs in the Vans x Nintendo line, be sure to take a moment to check out information on any A.skate clinics in your area and consider donating to the cause.
Review materials provided by: Vans