What are canvas shoes?

September 14, 2023

What are canvas shoes?

You know those trusty shoes that somehow find their way onto your feet, whether you're darting to the corner store or meeting friends at the local café? Yep, we're talking about canvas shoes. They've got a knack for being there right when you need them, blending old-school charm with new-age vibes. 

Think of canvas shoes as that cool cousin who knows all the best indie bands but also jams to the classics. They're the dependable friend who's up for anything, whether it’s a walk in the park or an impromptu living room dance-off. Canvas shoes are trendy and versatile. They embrace your feet with a comfortable hug but are never too tight or too loose. Just perfect.

Still, what are canvas shoes? And why have they become the go-to footwear for people from all walks of life? Read on as we’ll teach you about all things canvas shoes. 

The history of canvas shoes

Canvas shoes have been around for quite a while. Their origins trace back to the late 19th century. It all started when rubber companies started combining the sturdy fabric called “canvas” with rubber soles to create an affordable, comfortable, and durable shoe. These early versions of canvas shoes were especially popular among athletes and the military because of their durability and ease of use.

As decades passed, the canvas shoe slowly transitioned from being a practical necessity to a style statement. In the mid-20th century, with the rise of youth culture and the widespread popularity of recreational sports, canvas shoes were adopted by many as their go-to daily wear. 

Bands, artists, and even movie stars began to don them, increasing their street cred and fashion appeal.

What makes canvas shoes special?

Canvas shoes—an emblem of casual comfort and effortless style—have carved a unique space in the realm of footwear. But what exactly makes them stand out amidst a sea of shoe options? The answer lies in their unique benefits that cater to diverse audiences:

Durability and longevity

Canvas, as a material, is synonymous with strength. It was originally used for making sails due to its durability. It’s weaved into shoes for the same reason. You can trust a pair of canvas shoes to stand the test of time, surviving countless trips, dances, and strolls. Whether it's the rainy streets of London or the sandy beaches of California, canvas shoes have your back.

Breathability and comfort

The woven nature of canvas ensures that it remains highly breathable and that your feet can breathe easily, reducing the chances of odor or discomfort. It makes it a must-have for warmer climates. The flexibility of canvas means that it molds comfortably to the shape of your foot, making long hours of wear a breeze.


One of the major charms of canvas shoes is their adaptability in style. Their unpretentious design means they can complement almost any outfit. Be it a day at the beach, the office, or a night out with friends, canvas shoes seamlessly fit in. 

There’s a canvas shoe for every style and personality. High-tops, low-tops, even slip-ons. Not to mention, an endless amount of designs and colorways to choose from. 

Affordability and accessibility

When compared to leather or other high-end materials, canvas offers a more pocket-friendly alternative without compromising on style or comfort. This affordability ensures that everyone, regardless of their budget, can own a pair—or several—of these timeless classics.

Weight and travel-friendliness

Due to the lightweight nature of canvas, these shoes are perfect for people who are always on the go. They are easy to pack, don’t add much weight to your luggage, and can be the perfect companion for your travels, from backpacking adventures to luxury vacations.


In an age where sustainability is paramount, canvas shoes often stand out as an eco-friendly choice. Made from natural fibers, canvas is biodegradable. Moreover, as brands have become more environmentally conscious, there's been a rise of canvas shoes made with organic cotton and eco-friendly dyes.


Canvas shoes, unlike other shoes, are low maintenance. A quick scrub gets rid of most stains. They even do well in the occasional machine wash. This means that even after a muddy festival or a rainy day out, restoring them to their former glory is hassle-free.


The plain and adaptable nature of canvas makes it a favorite for artists and customizers. Whether you want to paint a unique design, stitch in some embellishments, or add patches, canvas shoes serve as a literal blank canvas for your creativity.

Meet Kizik's top canvas choices

If we’re talking about canvas shoes, we have to mention some of the current all-stars. At Kizik, we've channeled the essence of what makes canvas shoes special and layered it with our unique touch. We've taken the best of canvas and fused it with HandsFree Labs® technology to bring you not just a shoe, but an experience. Here are our top picks:

The Irvine

Embodying the spirit of the modern-day canvas shoe, the Irvine has it all: style, comfort, and functionality. Its stretch canvas upper moves in sync with your foot, offering optimal flexibility. Think of it as the shoe as your trusty companion that's always ready to accompany you, be it a business meeting or a bonfire. 

The Venice

Leave your laces behind. We reinvented the classic slip-on. Our Venice shoe celebrates canvas in all its glory. Its uniform, laceless, all-canvas body promises durability, while its innovative hands-free technology guarantees seamless wear. Imagine all the qualities of a canvas shoe amplified. That's the Venice for you.

The Prague

Blending deluxe canvas with genuine suede leather touches, the Prague is a testament to timelessness. It offers the longevity you expect from a pair of Kiziks while exuding the traditional charm of canvas footwear. Whether you're stepping out for a casual day or a stylish evening, the Prague adapts with elegance.

The Madrid Eco Knit

While not strictly canvas, our Madrid shoe showcases our commitment to sustainability. Crafted with an environmentally friendly knit upper from 100% recycled plastic bottles, this shoe resonates with the eco-friendly essence of canvas shoes. It’s breathable, comfortable, and stands as a nod to our planet-first approach.

Canvas care tips and tricks

Caring for your canvas shoes can seem a tad overwhelming, especially when they’ve become your go-to favorites. They’re your babies! You wear them everywhere, show them off with pride, and want them to last as long as possible. Don't fret. We've got some nifty tips to help you keep your canvas shoes looking as fresh as the day you first slipped them on for the first time.

Spot cleaning is your best friend

The best way to tackle a fresh stain? Get to it quickly. Dab a bit of mild detergent on the spot, and gently scrub using an old toothbrush. Remember, rubbing too hard can spread the stain, so gentle circular motions are key.

Sun dry, but not directly

After a quick wash, let your canvas shoes air dry. Avoid placing them directly under the sun, as this can cause the color to fade and the fabric to become brittle. 

Find a shaded, well-ventilated spot and let nature do its magic.

Keep them fresh with baking soda

If your canvas shoes are starting to have that well-loved scent, sprinkle a bit of baking soda inside. Let it sit overnight and shake it out in the morning. It'll absorb the odors and leave your shoes feeling fresh and clean.

Rotate your shoes

While it's tempting to wear your favorite canvas shoes day in and day out, variety can be the spice of shoe life. Rotating between different pairs provides an opportunity for your shoes to breathe while also letting the materials recover from daily wear. 

Over time this habit ensures the longevity of each pair, allowing them to maintain their charm and comfort for seasons to come.

Store them correctly

When you're not rocking those canvas beauties, proper storage can make a world of difference. Canvas shoes can lose their shape when left to their own devices. 

By stuffing them lightly with newspaper or shoe inserts, you’ll retain their original form and keep them wrinkle-free. You’ll want to do this as a structured shoe offers better foot support.

Waterproofing for the win

The unpredictable whims of weather can be a challenge, especially for canvas aficionados. To give your shoes a fighting chance against rain, dew, or accidental spills, consider using a waterproofing spray. This protective barrier ensures the fabric remains unstained and dries faster. 

It also helps the shoe retain its vibrant color, longer.  

Stepping into canvas

Canvas shoes have woven their way into our lives, transcending mere footwear to become symbols of effortless style and unmatched comfort. At Kizik, we're proud to play a part in canvas’s story, merging tradition with innovation to offer you not just a shoe but an experience. 

The journey with canvas is as vibrant and varied as the fabric itself, and with proper care, your canvas companions will walk alongside you for years to come. Whether you're stepping out on sunlit streets or dancing in moonlit meadows, remember: with canvas shoes on your feet, every step is a story waiting to be told. 

Here's to many more chapters in your canvas! 


The History of the Sneaker | The Washington Post

Canvas Fabric: An Alternative Option To Polyester and Cotton | How To Sew 

Learn About Sustainability | US EPA 

Shoe rotation is of utmost importance for both your health and the health of your footwear | ANMJ 

Written By: Chris Fry

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