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The Origins
The Old Skool debuted in 1977 as the so-called "Style 36", and showcased the now iconic Vans sidestripe. A new low-top style as Vans' first skate shoe that incorporated leather panels, the company that had been founded as the Van Doren Rubber Company in Anaheim in 1966 had a new classic silhouette on its hands. What started as a random doodle by Paul Van Doren was originally referred to as the "jazz stripe", and over 35 years in the making, the sidestripe has become the unmistakable hallmark of the Vans brand.
Looking back on the ‘80's, Steve van Doren recalls how popular customization became in those days. People realized the possibilities of the simple idea of pulling a pen out and creating your own unique footwear work of art. Vans' Old Skool style offered the particular perk of many panels and material parts that could be tweaked to anybody's liking. Over time, an endless array of color and pattern variations has come forth. The notion of footwear as an expression of personality has grown into an integral part of the Vans DNA, and the Old Skool its trusty and coveted canvas.
Collaborations became a major part of representing a brand that has always thrived on the creativity and dedication of artists reaching into and beyond the Vans culture. Tapping into the realm of haute couture, a partnership with Marc Jacobs gave Vans an opportunity to play with premium materials, cutting edge patterning, and limited production numbers to put out an Old Skool fit for boutiques and sought after by collectors and aficionados all across the world. Long-standing relationships have evolved from many collaborative efforts, of which the first joint venture with Supreme in the mid ‘90's marks the beginning of design projects and friendships that last to this day. "The Old Skool is iconic, classic skate," says Supreme's James Jebbia. "In 1996, it was one of the best shoes offered by Vans and has really stood the test of time."
Band Shoes
Vans' rich history in music is perhaps best represented by highly visible and revered band members who have chosen to wear the shoes. When early US punk rock movement icons, such as Henry Rollins, started appearing on small club stages wearing Old Skools in their teens, kids diving off stage around the country followed. In the ‘90's, Vans developed a band shoe program that evolved naturally from a culture, both the brand and these bands gravitated towards and took part in creating. Old Skool models dedicated to Slayer, Descendents, or Bad Religion have been treasured by fans and followers of these music history notables and the Vans heritage tied to it.
Milo from The Descendents
photographed by Lisa Johnson Rock Photographer
Action Sports
The Old Skool has always been popular among athletes and drawn skaters like Julian Stranger and BMX champs like Dakota Roche into its fold. The first decade of the new millennium has been a testament to its longevity from the earliest days of what we now call "Action Sports" to the global popularity and reach they have skyrocketed to today. A versatile style to complement individual riders' aesthetics, and a functional tool to their craft, the Old Skool is an easy one to love. As for his Vans of choice, pro team member Anthony Van Engelen comments, "The first pros I really looked up to were Henry Sanchez and Guy Mariano, and at that time they were skating Vans Old Skools, and skating them well."
Present Day
As parentheses to the Old Skool throughout the decades, this season's Old Skools speak the language of the current collections for Spring ‘14 as a whole. From heritage colorways dating back to the 1960's and 1970's to reissued prints and patterns from the archives featuring the original Van Doren heel tab, this expanded assortment is all about color, patterns, and materials. Catering to individuals from every corner of every spectrum, the Old Skool does what Vans does: grow with and celebrate the people who love the Vans on their feet.