Let’s face it we all know that Vans Old Skools are timeless, iconic, durable and insanely comfortable. They were THE trainers to be spotted in at last year’s London Fashion Week despite having been around for ages. We still can’t get enough, we’re besotted.
So, here is a bit of a love letter from us to this classic sneaker. To find out everything you ever need to know about the Vans Old Skool read on my friend, read on…
How Did Old Skools Come About?
The Birth of Vans
On 16th March 1966 In Anaheim, California the Van Doren Rubber Company started selling shoes. Set up by the Van Doren brothers (Paul & James), alongside Gordon C Lee and Serge D’Elia, they wanted to sell footwear that was merely durable and profitable.
The Old Skool is Launched
By 1977 Vans’ popularity had grown, particularly amongst Californian skateboarders who liked the sticky sole and rugged make up.
Superstar ‘boarders Stacy Peralta and Tony Alva had been encouraging the Van Dorens and partners to make shoes that were more and more suited to the needs of skateboarders.
Their influence paid off when Vans launched a new model; #36. These low top skate shoes featured leather panels for increased durability. Later to become known as the Old Skool, they were also the first to feature the side stripe.
Image Source: Pinterest
Now instantly recognisable, this branding began as an idle doodle and started to be referred to as the “jazz stripe”. Nice.
A year after the launch of the Old Skool, Vans launched another iconic pair of sneaks. The Sk8-Hi (#38) modified the Old Skool design, retaining the jazz stripe and waffle sole sitting beneath a vulcanized rubber unit but adding vital support for the ankle.
For a more detailed history of the Old Skool, check this out.
What Different Styles of Old Skools Are There?
With an entire spectrum of colourways having been available and the Vans design team collaborating more times than Mark Ronson, there is no shortage of variations for the fan of the Old Skool. However, there are a few key takes on the standard model that trainer enthusiasts should be aware of.
The Mountain Edition line (shortened to MTE) is, as you’d maybe guess from the name a hardier take on the standard model. As robustness and durability are key reasons behind the popularity of the Old Skool, we’re talking serious protection from the elements here.
The uppers of the shoe come treated with Scotchguard, they’re fleece lined and have a heat retention layer between the sockliner and outsole. All this combines to keep your feet warm, dry and able to breathe, whilst still looking cool as.
The Reissue DX line of Old Skools have a slightly more vintage vibe to provide double retro goodness. They retain the iconic features that make Old Skool a stone cold classic but with a few subtle differences.
Available in a range of colour ways, key variations include a coated suede and leather combo for extra protection against scuffing. There’s even an all leather mono-python number featuring a snake skin effect that’ll bring an extra bit of venom to any self-respecting sneaker head’s game.
If these sound somewhat familiar, it might be because you’ve spotted them on a certain film star – more on that later though. Whilst we can’t say too much about these beauts just now, we can reveal that you can expect to be seeing an awful lot more of them in the UK later in the year.
Who Wears Vans Old Skool?
The Californian skateboarders who influenced Vans designs would wear either shorts (some pictures suggest just shorts!) or straight legged jeans above their Old Skools with a standard fitting t shirt and top the look of with longer, shaggier hairstyles. The jeans and t shirts weren’t as baggy as the skate kids of the early 2000s would wear, but generally not as tight those as today’s boarders might be spotted in.
Old Skool skateboader style translated for today:
- Vans Old Skool in blue
- Slim black jeans rolled up at the ankle (you don’t want your denims restricting your flips)
- White sport socks or no socks at all in warmer weather
- Relaxed fit striped t
Legendary US Punk Henry Rollins would frequently be spotted on stage in a pair of these bad boys early in his career whilst Bad Religion and Descedents have had custom models dedicated to them. With that in mind it’s no surprise that the cross over between Californian Skate culture and Punk has seen pairs of Old Skool moshed in and propel stage divers in to the pit the world over.
Image Source: notey.com
How to Rock the Punk & Old Skool style right now:
- Black ripped skinny jeans
- Classic black & white Old Skools
- Fitted t shirt featuring the logo of your favourite obscure punk band
- Tats, piercings and spiked hair (optional)
Many of the different eras of hip-hop have an iconic sneaker that seems as integral to the scene as the tunes themselves. Think Puma Classics at the birth of the genre (The Get Down on Netflix is wall to wall with them) and Run DMC’s obsession with adidas Superstars (even releasing a song about their love of the brand).
Some of today’s hottest hip-hop artists have been snapped in a pair of Old Skools, helping them become a staple of today’s street style wardrobe. We’re talking guys like Kanye, A$AP Rocky, Frank Ocean and Tyler the Creator (who’s Golf Wang company dropped a sweet collab with Vans on Old Skools back in 2015).
Image Source: Wikipedia
- Dark, tapered denims with turn ups
- Logo t or sweatshirt
- Bomber jacket
- ….oh and a pair of mono Old Skool
We told you the Vans Old Skool was the sneaker of 2016’s London Fashion Week, which is no faint praise.
Here’s Emily Dawes, Stylist and Fashion Assistant from You magazine rocking a pair with a striking red skirt.
Chemmie Squier, now Brand Content Manager at Refinery 29 matched hers with a pair of black socks for an extra cute look.
Join the fash-pack:
- Ankle socks – fishnet, glittery, sheer – get them all
- Then add straight-legged frayed jeans or an a-line denim skirt
- Use your old schools to play it cool
Old Skool Fame
The Old Skool is no stranger to the big screen. In 1999, when Hugh Grant could spiffingly stutter his way to being the king of British rom-coms, he starred alongside Julia Roberts in Notting Hill. Roberts’ character Anna Scott could be seen wearing a pair of Old Skools with more of a platform sole.
This wasn’t the only time that this trainer has mixed with the glamorous world of film. In 2016, a collaboration between Vans and Dinsey Pixar saw an exclusive range of Toy Story Vans, including a Woody themed Old Skool.
Californian rappers The Pack secured a deal with Up All Nite records after posting their ode to the brand online, simply titled ‘Vans’. Whilst it didn’t explicitly call out Old Skools, it’s safe to assume that they would never have fallen in love with the brand if the Old Skools and their iconic side stripe hadn’t been created.
Also, you know that guy? That guy that oozes so much cool he could replace an entire nation’s refrigerators?
Yeah you do.
He just has to look at a pair of shoes and they’re on the want list of men and women everywhere. Well, guess what he wore on the shoot of the video for a track he featured on with The Clipse called I’m Good?
Yup, it was a pair of Old Skools. In this case it was the Old Skool collab with Supreme.
Image Source: bbcicecream.com
How Do You Keep Vans Old Skool Looking Good?
Whether you’ve been inspired to get a piece of the action or you’re already the proud owner of a pair of Vans Old Skool, we know you always want to be looking good from the feet up. As we’re here to help you do exactly that, we’ve got a few tips for keeping your kicks looking mint and you looking sharp.
It’s worth remembering though; one of the reasons Old Skools are so popular is that they strike the perfect balance between looking good and being supremely durable. That all adds up to them being on heavy rotation with many owners, who turn to them time and time again. With very little effort you can keep a pair looking boxfresh, no matter how often you rock them. Just another reason why we love them so much.
So here are three simple things you might want to consider doing to make sure you and your Old Skools are always looking good.
It might sound obvious, but use some good quality trainer protector. It won’t stop the dirt from regular outings in your Old Skools finding your shoes, but it will make it super easy to remove it with a simple wipe. It’ll also help guard against marks from scuffing.
As robust as they may be, you don’t want to be cutting about in a pair that are in this kind of nick.
Image Source: Pinterest
Before you even wear a new pair of Old Skools you should apply some protector (something like Sneakerser Superhydrophobic Protector). Whilst each different kind of trainer protector will come with its own instructions the general jist of it is to spray it on your sneaks, give them a wipe to ensure even coverage and then leave to dry. Dead easy.
Getting the right protector should help with the upper part of the trainer, whether leather or suede. It won’t necessarily protect the sole unit though, so you’ll have to give that a clean every now and then, particularly if it’s white.
Again, it’s easy as 1-2-3.
1) Cover the outside of the upper of the trainer (where the material meets the rubber) using some tape.
2) Mix some Bicarbonate of Soda with water then dip in an old tooth brush and use it to scrub clean the outside of the sole unit.
3) Once complete, dry off and enjoy the sparkly white base to your outfit.
Way back in the 80’s Vans owners were big on customisation. The panelling on the Old Skools offered the perfect opportunity to create totally unique colourways, some even with a different colour on each panel.
Now, we’re not suggesting you start painting your kicks here, especially when the Old Skools are available in so many cool colour combos.
However, personalisation by freshening the lacing up can breathe a new lease of life in to a pair of well-loved Old Skools.
This can be done in a couple of different ways. Firstly, you can replace the laces with those in another colour (we said we’re here to help you, we can fix you up with all kinds of different laces).
Secondly, you could play about with the way you lace them. If you want to move away from the cross lacing that comes as standard, try either lattice or straight lacing.
Image Source: njtc.org
These handy vids will show you how. No need to thank us, it’s our pleasure, seriously.
So, there we go. Maybe you’ve learned something new, maybe it’s reinforced your love for Old Skools or perhaps convinced you to finally invest in a pair (about time!)? Either way, let us know what you think about them. Let us see how you rock your Old Skools by sharing your snaps with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.