Geoff Rowley and Vans have collaborated to create some of the most legendary shoes any of us have been lucky enough to lace up over the last 18 years.
That said, we thought it was odd that the Shams and the Shambles were the only Rowley models to meander above the ankle bone in all these years. You know we love a good Mid around here, and with that in mind, we chose 5 Rowley models that we’d like to see in Mid form. From the thinnest silhouette to the bulkiest…
Despite boasting potentially the least amount of support of any major shoe release of the last 20 years (and the fact that they get thrashed pretty damn quick), the initial Rowley offering had everything else going for it. A timeless silhouette and aesthetic with as much boardfeel as you could possibly want leaves little to be desired – other than a mid option. In an effort to maintain the classic nature of the shoe, we opted for something straight out of the era, with a sorta Halfcab-hybrid collar. It’s doubtful some extra support and protection would detract from skateability one iota.
The trio of Rowley XLT models was a departure from the traditional Vans silhouette by employing features more common in running shoes than in a typical skate shoe. While the primary focus of the XLT line was to upgrade the padding of the anemic Rowley Classic while still serving as a lightweight alternative to the portly shoes of the time, there were never any attempts to bring a mid or high model into the featherweight division. Our mock-up might be a little bulky for this day in age, but the smooth design of the XL3 Mid unarguably finds a solid balance of comfort, functionality, and a conservatively “sporty” look.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a person who doesn’t think that the Rowley SPV is the most handsome shoe Vans has ever done. Yes, its minimal padding and support hearkened back to the pain-inducing days of the Rowley Classic, and the choice to introduce a new sole with a shallower tread pattern instead of going with the PERFECT (yes, I said it) waffle sole was a little suspect, but the shoe is a damn knockout in the visual department. The Rowley SPV could already stand on its own alongside other #teamhandsome shoes on the market, but who knew what a little extra altitude to the heel vamp would do for the overall aesthetic of this shoe? The more I look at the simple elegance of the SPV Mid, the more confidently I can say that I’ve never wanted a hypothetical shoe to be brought into existence so badly in my entire life (with the exception of a Chukka Boot Pro). Don’t make me write a letter, Vans.
Quite possibly the second-best-looking shoe to don the Rowley name, the Solos Mid looks like it could conceivably thrive on the Vans line alongside their other popular Mid and High top classics. However, I’m digging this upgrade for reasons that go beyond its stunning likeness to the Emerica Transist. Aesthetics aside, there is a solid case for saying that a Mid top version of this shoe would alleviate some of the inherent flaws of its original design. If you took the advice given in our review of the Rowley Solos and swapped the stock insole for the Vans Pro insole, then you probably learned that the extra cushioning will cause your heel to pop out of the shoe when you push – that is, unless you have them laced up like a football. Additionally, the profile on the original Solos is so low (see what I did there?) that your ankles often end up taking the punishment associated with loose flying boards and heelflip variations. Having all that extra real estate in a midtop silhouette would allow for a cushier stock insole, more effective lacing options and extra protection for those precious ankles.
This Rowley shoe was originally an upgrade to a classic Vans model, only with more padding. It’s not every day that you get to say that Geoff Rowley stood on the side of plumper footwear, but the Rowley Specials took design inspiration from the Vans 86er and put it on a crossfit program to meet modern cushioning standards. With a silhouette that I can legitimately say I’ve never seen before, this midtop rendition is a welcome sight at a time when skate footwear seems to be steadily backsliding into homogeneity again. While the Rowley Specials were a solid shoe in their own right, there’s plenty of reasons to wish the Specials Mid were around as well to offer full-foot padding coverage, thick suede upper in all the areas you need it, and of course the PERFECT (that’s right I said it again!) waffle grip vulc sole.