Boat shoes were made to be worn on boats, mukluks for winter wandering and Crocs for…. well, we’re not entirely sure. One thing we do know: the perfect chef footwear can be hard to find. Yes, you can wear a myriad of options in the kitchen but are they water, stain and slip resistant? Can you then wear them during culinary arts adventures and then out for a night of outside-of-the-restaurant tom foolery?
Tyler Kord of No. 7, No. 7 North and No. 7 in Brooklyn, New York has been wearing Vans since high school, specifically the black slip-ons, and wished that his beloved staple shoes could be modified to better suit the messy chaos that can be found in the kitchen. He found the email of a Van’s higher-up employee and asked if they would please make a shoe especially for chefs.
“If somebody created a hybrid of your shoes and theirs, the world might explode and every cook in New York City, and ultimately the world, would skate to work and cook like champions who aren’t afraid of slipping on a greasy floor,” Kord wrote in the email to Vans. He explained his love of Vans because they’re cheap and have no laces, while other brands are non slip and “janky.” He hoped to combine the two to create the perfect street-to-kitchen shoes.
Six years later, Kord’s request landed in the inbox of Doug Palladini, the vice president and general manager of Vans North America. Palladini happened to have been thinking about an approach to the culinary arts and knew, after meeting with Kord, that he was the right person to help Vans make their way into the kitchen.
The shoe, No. 7 Vans Classic Slip-On has been designed with more cushioning and arch support, per Kord’s suggestions, to help wearers during long periods of time spent on their feet. The outsoles of the shoes are thinly slitted, allowing for better traction. Also, the shoes have Vansguard repellent to help hide the stains of the kitchen.
According to Palladini, Vans is going to collaborate with a new restaurant or chef every couple of months to create a new chef shoe. The current model is only available to No. 7 staff members.
“It would be pretty sweet if “No. 7’s” became the ‘Jordans’ of kitchen shoes some day!” Kord told Food Republic of his exciting collaboration with the brand.