Every year in early May I buy a pair of white Vans Authentic Classics. With a discount code or two, they cost about $30, and the dirt, sand and stains that end up covering them by the time they get unceremoniously trashed on Labor Day is how I measure the summer’s folly. It started by accident a few years ago when I wore my pristine sneakers to a Governors Ball that would end up with enough mud to rival Woodstock ‘94. The humble Vans were off-white for the next few months, but they managed to touch a few continents, a couple beaches and endless city blocks, picking up just a bit of character from each along the way. Summer’s got an easiness that makes this possible — these beat-to-shit shoes weren’t fit for buttoned-up fall or spring, but they felt right at home in the season of summer Fridays, shorts and and acceptable shirtlessness. I often prefer to buy things made to last, but there’s something rewarding about looking back at three months of your life condensed into a size 10 canvas, then getting to start over again next year. It’s indirect and inadvertent record-keeping, but still, it’s marking the passing of time through good use, with a casualness that fits for a summer sensibility.
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