Vans Knu Skool – from skatepark to streets

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Vans are experts at blurring the lines between skate functionality and lifestyle; one prime example being the label’s Knu Skool silhouette. Popularised in the latter end of the ‘90s, this one followed the winning formula for skate shoes of that era; namely, it was chunky, wide, and well-padded.

The inspiration behind the shoe came from one of Vans’ most lauded silhouettes – the Old Skool. The Knu Skool was the ideal follow-up to the silhouette, catering to the skate community which had found itself gaining more and more traction as a mainstream culture. Taking their boards from the skateparks to the pavements, skaters were in need of super well-cushioned, chunky silhouettes; the Knu Skool fit the bill perfectly. It wasn’t confined to skaters of course; it was also a popular choice for lovers of the ever-growing pop punk and nu-metal scene which was fast emerging in the early noughties, inaugurating it into the footwear rotations of countless fans across America and beyond.

Although the Knu Skool proved popular for years after its ’98 release, the shoe vanished from the scene for a while; that was until it was re-released to the Japanese market back in 2015. From there, the Knu Skool proved its popularity once more, not only as a skate silhouette but also as a supremely comfortable, low-profile, lifestyle option.

The emphasized proportions of the model don’t only serve as an aesthetic feature – they also bolster the comfort and support of the shoe, providing a fit that feels as good to wear as it does to behold. Enlarged, 3D Sidestripe detailing aides the foot by boosting stability; padded tongues and collars work to cushion from the inside, and heel pulls save you any hassle when stepping in or out. Keeping in line with many a Vans silhouette out there, the outsole is waffled for prime grip and traction on the board and pavement as you require. It really is a winning combination.

In the decades since its introduction, and with its recent revival from the Vans label, the Knu Skool is a true icon in skate culture and plenty of the subcultures associated with it. Its timeless design has been reinstated as a must for those searching out a skate-lifestyle hybrid, with collaborations with the likes of Imran Potato and more putting the shoe firmly back on the map.

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