One of the most renowned names in travel and adventure and easily the most recognizable name in natural photojournalism has just begun a new venture: sneaker collaborations.
If you immediately imagined the National Geographic brand, you’d be right on the money. The most recent adventure has been a partnership with Vans, or VF Outdoor rather, and includes an eclectic selection of silhouettes wrapped in Nat Geo swagger, all of which are raising money for the Non-Profit National Geographic Society which funds efforts around the world in science, preservation, exploration, and so much more.
For this release, Drift House is scooping up 4 of the available 5 styles - The Sk8-Hi Reissue 13, the Era, the Old Skool, and the Authentic.
At first glance my thoughts on this collection are ‘oh hells yes’ - but I’m a sucker for some funk, love the idea behind funding positive efforts around the globe, and these absolutely have that color pop I dig. Let’s start with the Sk-Hi, the most reserved of the collection -
From afar, this is may look like a standard classic Sk8-Hi, white sole with black ripstop upper. But as we get in closer, you’re immediately drawn to a large Nat Geo official logo from their mag embroidered across the heel. When I say embroidered, I mean EM-BROI-DERED. This logo is thick, and absolutely has a presence to it on it’s own. The sole is wrapped in a yellow trim, which defines the Nat Geo magazine frame design, but on a shoe. This is the little black dress of the collection, fairly reserved but loud enough to be recognized.
My personal favorite feature of this Sk8-Hi Reissue 13 is absolutely the material of the upper - if you look closely, there’s a hidden geometric pattern in a rip-stop material, which I love. I think this shoe will take well to the stain and waterproofing spray I live by (made by Vans, of course).
Moving into the Authentic, we find the same National Geographic yellow trimming on the outsole. You’ll see this trim across all of these collaboration Vans shoes, save the Old Skool which we’ll touch on here soon.
This Authentic is unlike any other I have seen come from Vans, and I’m glad they made it so unique. Adorning the uppers of the shoe are images of schooling fish from Papua New Guinea - one of the most beautiful grouping of islands renowned for their exotic coral reefs, and frozen-in-time tribal villages, many of which only speak a language native to their tribe. This seems fitting, since Nat Geo is based on exploration so heavily.
Pretty cool detailing on the sides of the outsoles - you’ll find the coordinates of the island chain written out, along with the location name spelled out on the right side of the right shoe. The Vans tag on the upper for this release is yellow as well, not the standard white we typically see. National Geographic is spelled out across the heel of this shoe well, just not embroidered like the Hi.
Venturing into the Old Skool silhouette, we find a slew of exotic animals printed on each shoe wall, both shoes rocking a different creature for a total of 4 wildlings on one pair - My first thoughts on this shoe are that it is extremely similar in color to the Golden Snitch Old Skool from last year’s Harry Potter release, which honestly wasn’t my jam. I like these more than that Golden Snitch shoe, because wild animals are rad, and if you don’t like wild animals then f**k you. Just kidding. But seriously.
This Old Skool rocks a solid Nat Geo-Yellow outsole, and all black everything else aside from the animals. Black upper, black eyelets and black laces; the animals are the key focus here. Across the heels of the sole are the scientific names of the corresponding animals - nerds rejoice! A very cool touch, IMO, as this is extremely in tune with the way the mag describes creatures in their articles. Again, on the heel of this shoe you will find National Geographic written out, this time printed in white.
I saved the Era for last as it’s the craziest in the lineup - Printed across the upper we find a stunning array of some of National Geographic's top mag covers from over the years.
I love this shoe for the organized chaos of colors and stories it portrays. A timeless silhouette with a modern pop-art styled twist. It’s almost like Van Gogh and Andy Warhol collaborated on this one, from a distance you can see a little bit of checkerboard in it due to the yellow trims of where the graphics meet across the pattern.
This Era gets the yellow trimmed sole treatment we have now become familiar with, as well as the yellow Vans tag on the side of the upper. We find our classic Vans logo at the heel, but in Nat Geo form with some yellow and black to keep the story together.
Last but not least each pair of shoes will come with a custom Vans x National Geographic Box with customer printed National Geographic paper inside!