A Brief History: Vans Sk8-Hi

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1970’s – The Origins

The Sk8-Hi was introduced in 1978 as “Style 38,” and showcased the now-iconic Vans sidestripe on yet another innovative silhouette. As only the second model featuring the recognizable marker formerly known as the “jazz stripe,” the Sk8-Hi took skate functionality to the next level—above the ankle, where skateboarders used and abused their lower extremities the most. The Sk8-Hi not only shielded bones from skateboards catapulted at them but also brought a whole new look to the park.

A new classic in the footsteps of the Old Skool, the Sk8-Hi busted through the doors of the Anaheim, California, organization founded in 1966 as the Van Doren Rubber Company. What had started as a random doodle by Paul Van Doren became the representative symbol of Vans in the shape of a stripe. Together with a handful of other Vans Classics styles, the Sk8-Hi remains as a quintessential ambassador of the sidestripe aesthetic and the Vans brand heritage.


1980’s – Customisation

Looking back on the ’80s, Steve Van Doren recalls how popular customization became in the days of outrageous hair and lifestyles. The simple idea of pulling out a pen and producing one’s own art-to-footwear was charged up with Vans’ Sk8-Hi style and extended drawing surface. People ran with the creative possibilities.

It seems they are still running today, and it’s hard to imagine a better way an audience could go about celebrating their love for Vans than by embellishing their shoes with a stamp of their own individual taste. Later this season, the Vans Customs program will offer the option to customize the Sk8-Hi with updated prints and colors from the Fall 2014 line, so be sure to check back soon!

1990’s – 2000’s – Collaborations

Reaching into and beyond Vans culture, collaborations became a major showcase for a brand that has always thrived on the creativity of artists. The realm of haute couture and street fashion with names such as Marc Jacobs, Niagara, Stüssy, Pendleton, or Supreme gave Vans an opportunity to play with premium materials, cutting-edge patterning, and limited production numbers to put out Sk8-Hi styles fit for boutiques and sought after by collectors worldwide.

Vans’ rich history in music is perhaps best represented by revered band members who have chosen to wear the shoes. Vans were not only durable on tour but also stood as a symbol of counterculture. When early U.S. punk rock movement icons such as Henry Rollins started appearing in small clubs wearing Vans in their teens, kids diving off-stage around the country followed. In the 1990s, Vans developed a band shoe program that evolved naturally from this culture. Sk8-Hi models dedicated to legendary groups such as Bad Brains, Iron Maiden, Slayer and Social Distortion have been treasured as collectibles by fans and followers of these music history notables and the Vans heritage tied to it.

2010’s – Action Sports

The Sk8-Hi has always been a favorite among athletes—a draw for skaters and BMX champs like Dakota Roche and skateboarder John Fitzgerald. The first decade of the new millennium has been a testament to its longevity; the shoe has skyrocketed in global popularity and reach from the earliest days of what we now call “Action Sports.” A versatile style to complement individual riders’ aesthetics, and a functional tool to their craft, the Sk8-Hi is an easy one to hang onto. As for his Vans of choice, pro team member Dakota Roche says, “A classic that has stood the test of time, Sk8-Hi’s symbolize going fast and shredding hard. That’s what they were made for, so that’s what you want to do when they’re on your feet.

2014 – Present Day

The Sk8-His of this season expand on the gestures of all its preceding decades. From durable materials like leather, suede and coated canvas to retro colors and prints from the Golden Coast and Van Doren collections, to a new capsule of Mountain Edition Classics for the best in weather-resistant technologies, the men’s offering serves up tried-and-true construction that’s on the edge and of the moment. On the women’s side, the Sk8-Hi continues to work with the concept of slim silhouettes and tops them with sophisticated leathers and unique detailing such as lining prints or heel zippers. The Sk8-Hi remains recognizable and innovative at all times—and never without its signature sidestripe.


[Source: Vans]



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