white slip on sneaker

A Brief History of the Slip-On Shoe

A letter from our designer–

When we think of sneakers, there’s only a handful of true icons –– the court shoe, the athletic trainer, hightop sneakers, the deck shoe, and the slip-on. So when expanding our line of everyday essentials, turning to the classics always feels like a good starting point.

The slip-on, originated by Vans in the early 70s, is inspired by late 60s society and the changing psyche of the Western world. It was all about progress; counter culture movements like the hippie movement in California and the modernist design movement in Europe. The Vans slip-on gained popularity starting with the youth — flower children kickstarting a budding skate and surf movement which promoted a care-free, effortlessly cool lifestyle. This was a generation with a whole new POV: raised by hippie parents with a progressive agenda, they valued equality, environmentalism, human connection, and adventure above all else.

Classic slip-on shoe

The slip-on style gained global popularity when Sean Penn sported the iconic checkerboard version in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High." Ever since, the style has prevailed as one of the simplest and most easy-to-wear shoes available. To us, that’s a clear mark of good design – a timeless style that manages to always look fresh and effortlessly cool. 

While it’s easy for us to romanticize this era, the truth is that it was a crazy, divided time, and not dissimilar to the state of the world today. Progressives pushed for LGBTQ and POC rights, for government transparency and a more compassionate way of life. Anti-war protests and urban riots displayed hope for change. The world’s first Earth Day took place in 1970, and environmentalism emerged as another key issue we’d need to solve to create a brighter future.

At the same time, an emerging Right brought their “conventional” and conservative family values. Sick of what they interpreted as spoiled hippies and whining protestors, tired of an interfering government that, in their view, coddled poor people at taxpayer’s expense. The Watergate scandal left many progressives feeling helpless, and turning their attention to art, music and design as the movement that couldn’t be tampered with. From this, the slip-on emerged and became a progressive counter-culture symbol. Considering the parallels in today’s society, it feels like good timing to give the style a revamp. 

Over the past 50 years, the silhouette has essentially become a blank canvas, ready for whatever vision a designer may have. From exotic leathers to Star Wars insignia, it’s an easy way for designers to play dress up. But for Casca, we design for progress. And while we’ve seen hundreds of fresh colorways and stylistic iterations, without purpose or true innovation, these designs feel redundant. 

Our footwear intends to solve problems. From reducing consumption and waste to providing a versatile canvas for individual expression, it’s about progress. Our newest design integrates cutting-edge technology, emphasizing research and innovation as key pillars in advancing a better future for all. 

At Casca, we see footwear as a tool that can improve everyday life. The new slip-on style encompasses all the things we look for in footwear -- comfort, durability, versatility, function and more.

As for the brand itself, it will always be a vessel for progress.

Stay tuned. 

– Kevin Reid, co-founder and designer

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