Mar 28, 2023
by Sofia de la Cruz
Nicole McLaughlin’s Upcycled Vans Riff On a Personal Synergy With Nature
by Sofia de la Cruz
Mar 28, 2023

If you were to name a multidisciplinary artist who knows the way to spice up the possibilities of upcycling design, you’d be hard pressed to make a better choice than Nicole McLaughlin. Known for her ever-evolving, tongue-in-cheek exploration of sustainable fashion, the New York-based designer has garnered a cult following of fans – and, for that matter, brands – who buy into and encourage the “Producing Less, Repurposing More” mantra.

After recent ultra-functional partnerships with Reebok and Diemme, McLaughlin now adds Vault by Vans to her extensive portfolio of collaborations. This time, the creative has decided to spotlight her love for vintage gardening and workwear totes by upcycling the classic Vans Slip-On VP VR3 LX “Into a practical yet fun work of art.”

Of course, the collection strives to bring sustainability and waste discussion to the forefront. Hence, McLaughlin utilized a mix of recycled and responsibly sourced materials to deliver a renewed purpose to Vans’ signature silhouette. Available in “White/Green” and “Brown/Grey” hues, the shoe includes an innovative toe vamp made from reappropriated gardening materials and work tools.

In more detail, each of Vans’ slip-on silhouettes was built with organic cotton canvas uppers, 50% recycled polyester bindings and the label’s bio-based foam VR3Cush™ footbed, made using at least 25% bio-based EVA foam partially derived from plants. Furthermore, the outsole contains 60% responsibly sourced natural rubber. Elsewhere, both colorways feature the addition of Nicole McLaughlin’s custom labels, a functional pocket, and an ankle collar strap for carrying and storing the shoes.

“The Vault by Vans NM Gardening Tote is a vision I’ve had for a while,” McLaughlin shares in her comments on the upcoming launch. “I’ve always loved the Slip-Ons and the traditional canvas upper. The idea of canvas made me think about vintage gardening bags and it inspired me to make my own version, a functional gardening tote Slip-On.”

“I created the original sample by using an old gardening bag, and the idea of sourcing sustainable fabrics and materials followed through the rest of the design process,” McLaughlin adds, offering some extra insight into the off-beat rework. “I’m so excited with how the shoes turned out and it was so fun collaborating with the Vans team, they made my vision come to life!”

The Vault by Vans x Nicole McLaughlin collection will be released globally on March 31st through Vans’ website, launched via the draw system on END., and available in person at select retail locations.

In the meantime, take a closer look at the reworked slip-ons in the gallery above and, if you’re interested in more sustainably-minded Vans collaborations, check out the recent effort with South African surf brand Mami Wata.