Vans, the original action sports footwear and apparel brand begins 2014 celebrating the legacy of the Vans Sidestripe. Debuting nearly four decades ago, the Sidestripe started as a random doodle by Vans Founder Paul Van Doren. Over the years the simple motif has evolved into an iconic symbol of the brand’s heritage. Originally referred to as the “Jazz Stripe”, the Sidestripe has marked some of Vans’ most celebrated footwear styles since its inception. Vans kicks off the celebration in spring 2014 as it reflects on the Sidestripe’s history and offer an expanded range of the original sidestriped silhouette: the Old Skool.
The Old Skool debuted in 1977 as the “Style 36” as the first skate shoe to incorporate leather into its construction and the first piece of footwear to don the Sidestripe. The multi-paneled form and upgraded durability of the Old Skool made it a necessity for the adventurous and active. The innovative low-top immediately became a favorite among the skateboarders of the Dogtown era and the early BMX riders.
Beyond performance, the Old Skool serves as a canvas for expression. Customization became very popular in the 1980s and Van Doren Rubber Company’s Style 36 was often picked by customers who wanted to personally design their most unique sneakers. Steve Van Doren, son of Vans Founder Paul Van Doren and current VP of Events and Promotions at Vans, recalls the early days of the Old Skool, “Customization for the Old Skool became very popular in the early ‘80s because there were so many parts you could change in terms of colors and patterns.” Van Doren’s custom program further connected a generation of Vans enthusiasts to the Sidestripe. From that point forward, the notion of footwear as an expression of personality has grown into an integral part of the Vans DNA.
Collaborative projects extend the Sidestripe’s reach into music and fashion as Vans developed a band shoe program in the ‘90s, launched the Vans x Supreme partnership in 1996 and brought the premier Vans x Marc Jacobs capsules to light in the 2000s. The Old Skool played a pivotal role in each of those relationships. Vans’ rich history in music is perhaps best represented by highly visible and revered musicians 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. The raucous-inspiring lace-up has also become a piece of a music memorabilia over the years as Vans created special colorways with legendary bands such as Milencolin, Slayer, Bad Religion, The Descendents and No Doubt. Street fashion and high fashion have converged with the brand through the Style 36’s aesthetic as well.