What Do David Bowie, Paul McCartney & Vans Have In Common? - Stab Mag

What Do David Bowie, Paul McCartney & Vans Have In Common?

Vans’ new Slip-On TRK Mule: Business and pleasure can finally coexist

style // Apr 3, 2023
Words by Corina Stephens
Reading Time: 3 minutes

With origins dating back to the 16th century, the shoe style known commonly as the “mule” has long been designed primarily for comfort. Originally worn only within the confines of the home – specifically, within the boudoir – the backless closed-toed slipper wasn’t something normally seen in public (because propriety).

Oh, how far we’ve come.

It wasn’t until the notoriously beautiful, semi-scandalous Comtesse d’Olonne – a luxury-loving courtier of King Louis XIV – wore a sultry red pair of the soft slip-ons to church (of all places!) in 1694 that the mule began to make its way into public ensembles. Thanks to this sassy lass and her risqué act of fashion rebellion, we modern heathens can lead more lavish pedestrian lives.

“Je t’en prie – you’re welcome,” she whispers.

Even the etymology of the name, rooted in the Roman phrase “mulleus calceus” (literally, mullet shoe), speaks to the design’s easy-wearing, party-ready purposes. To this day, the backless design remains timeless in style and popularity, primarily due to the empirically loved combination of comfort and smart stylishness, not unlike its coiffeur counterpart. The haircut isn’t so bad either, as has been proudly displayed by the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, David Bowie, and, of course, Mikey Wright.

A mullet, but make it fashion.

Unsurprisingly, the non-dummies at Vans have taken inspiration from this centuries-old style, improving it and driving it further yet into the elusive realm where function and fashion coexist. From this hallowed ground, they present the first-ever backless version of their first-ever fully rinseable shoe.

Introducing the Slip-On TRK Mule.

Adding updated design elements to everyone’s favorite beach shoe, the Vans Slip-On TRK Mule touts thoughtful touches like increased tread (thanks to a tactile [and classy] herringbone texture), plus enhanced lug placement for more optimal cushioning, debris expulsion, and water shedding. 

…and sand shedding!
Because wetsuit changes are challenging enough.

Basically, these were designed to marry utilitarian function with the grandiosity of ease. Alongside the apparel collection that accompanies the latest addition to the Vans Surf product range – including a versatile mix of Men’s and Women’s garments and must-have surf check accessories – the Slip-On Mule TRK has your business-and-pleasure prayers answered. 

All this, thanks to an 18th-century French courtier slash fashion influencer named Catherine-Henriette d’Angennes.
Catch the full collection.

Available now at Vans.com/surf.


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