Why Do Vans Shoes Fall Apart? (Early Sole Separation)

You are told that Vans shoes are tough and durable. But after a week or two, you notice that their soles are starting to separate. So why do Vans fall apart and rip so easily?

Vans shoes may fall apart sooner than later if the three rubber strips called “foxing” were not applied properly over the upper and the sole. As a result, the sole can separate from the canvas/suede upper and fall apart.

If this happens, then you have gotten a defective pair since Vans shoes are very durable. Luckily, you can learn how to fix Vans sole separation, which we will show you below.

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Why Do Some Vans Shoes Fall Apart Early?

Basically, Vans sole can separate if the foxing falls off or becomes loose. To understand why some Vans shoes fall apart early, let’s take a look at how Vans shoes are made.

How Vans shoes are made

Vans are made using a process called “vulcanization” to join the different parts together. In simpler terms, vulcanization is using heat to “weld” major components of the shoes.

Each pair of Vans shoes goes through a five-step production process:

  1. Creating the waffle soles – First, the signature waffle soles are made. Rubber is cured by heat before being compressed.
  2. Soles are “hole-punched” – Once the rubber has been compressed by heat, each shoe gets its own hole-punched sole.
  3. Soles are “waffled” – Similar to a pressed waffle, each sole is pressed into the iconic criss-cross shape. The press makes each sole look like a waffle. 
  4. The uppers and soles are assembled – Once the soles are ready, they move into the assembly room where they are combined with the uppers. Three rubber strips called ‘foxing’ are then applied over each upper and sole.
  5. Finishing touches – Each shoe is lacquered before entering the vulcanizing oven. Using heat, pressure, and humidity, each shoe is constructed.

Why do Vans shoes fall apart faster than normal?

The “rubber band” going around the perimeter of Vans is called “foxing”. That rubber foxing is vulcanized to the rubber sole and also melt-welded to the canvas uppers.

Unlike most sneakers, Vans have no midsoles. What the foxing does is join the iconic gum rubber waffle sole to the canvas uppers and keep everything, more or less, in place.

Some Vans shoes fall apart faster than normal (soles separating from the uppers) because the vulcanization process was not done very well.

How well the vulcanization process is done determines how soon the waffle sole begins to separate from the foxing and how quickly the foxing breaks away from the uppers.

If not done properly, the foxing can become loose or fall off. With nothing to connect the sole and the upper, they both will separate sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately, this is not something you can help with, nor because the Vans shoes are cheap, but because it is the nature of the design. 

Early sole separation on Vans shoes.

You should expect some pairs to come out defective because Vans shoes are made in large quantities (between 70 to 85 million pairs each year).

The way you wear your Vans shoes can also determine how long they last. Some people who wear Vans to work and have to bend or squat down frequently may start to notice midsole cracks at the toe because of more pressure on that area.

Luckily, there are simple tricks to fix Vans sole separation.

Contact Vans customer service if the soles separate early

For the most part, Vans shoes can last several years if you wear them casually. So if your Vans shoes fall apart early (under a month), then you should contact Vans customer service.

Send them pictures and explain to them what happened. A lot of people have great experiences with Vans customer service so you should not hesitate to contact them.

Who knows, you may get lucky and receive a gift card or your shoes are replaced.

How to Fix Vans Sole Separation

Vans shoes that have fallen apart are often beaten and not worth fixing. However, if the soles separate too early and the shoes still have plenty of life in them, you should fix it.

To fix Vans sole separation, you are going to need contact cement, regular tape, and some toothpicks. You also need a shoe tree but if you don’t have one, socks would do just fine.

We have found the best adhesive for this job is contact cement. Shoe Goo is great for a quick fix, but we didn’t see long-lasting success. Contact cement works better.

Here’s how to fix Vans early sole separation:

1. Stuff the shoe and apply tape on the upper

The first thing you would want to do is to stuff the shoe. If you have a shoe tree, then place it inside the shoe, otherwise stuff with socks until it’s filled up.

Having a shoe tree or socks inside the shoe will help it maintain its shape while you work. It will also make it easier for you to apply the adhesive.

Next, you would want to tape the upper of the shoe where it is separated from the sole.

As careful as you are, applying contact cement may cause a mess and you don’t want the adhesive to scatter on the canvas or suede.

Take your time taping the shoe neatly because the better you tape, the better the outcome.

2. Use a toothpick to fill the gap with contact cement

Once you have the shoe taped up, add a small amount of contact cement at the tip of a toothpick and use it to fill in the gap where the sole has separated.

After you put the adhesive inside the gap, take the tape off right away. You don’t want the contact cement to stick to the tape, otherwise, the tape may stick to the shoe permanently.

Wait for 5 minutes then apply low heat from a hairdryer to stick everything together. The longer you can let the contact cement cure the stronger the joint will be.

Not only does this simple tip work great, but it lasts a long time. As long as you clean the area where you will apply the contact cement, it should stick very well.

So make sure the surfaces are as clean as you can get them before fixing the shoe.

Bottom Line

Now you know why some Vans shoes fall apart early. Their soles can separate because the three rubber strips called “foxing” were not applied properly over the upper and the sole.

But by learning how to fix Vans sole separation, you can add a few more years into them.

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