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Why Vans’ Old Skool sneakers stand the test of time

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH VANS

WORDS BY EMILY HOLGATE

Breaking down its enduring popularity.

The past couple of years has seen the return of many fashion trends from previous decades – from slick ’90s buns and bike shorts to low-rise Y2K-style jeans to corsets and ’70s-style bell-bottoms. Joining the swathe of re-emerging classics is the iconic Old Skool Vans, as spotlighted by the sneaker label’s Classic Since Forever campaign.


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Dubbed a veritable cult classic by many, the low top lace-up shoe remains as iconic as ever. Whether you’re reaching for your old kicks at the back of the closet or jumping on the trend late with a fresh pair, it’s proved to be one of those styles that truly stands the test of time. 

A little history

Vans has been creating its much-loved sneakers since 1966, but the Old Skool style – originally known as Vans #36 – first debuted in 1977. It launched with its infamous ‘jazz stripe’, which was sketched at random by Vans founder, Paul Van Doren. The side stripe lives on to this day as an instantly recognisable hallmark of the brand.

The low top lace-up shoe boasts durable suede and canvas uppers, with a comfortable padded tongue and lining. The style is an example of one of the first canvas skate shoes, seen in its heyday on celebs and skaters alike along Venice Beach. 

Versatility

A defining characteristic of a wardrobe classic is its ability to be worn time and time again, with any and every outfit. The Old Skool style fits the brief, particularly with many of us returning to work in the office – monochromatic sneakers can go with practically anything, and they’re comfortable for commuting.

Wear a set of Old Skools to work – which come in a range of fresh colours – with a pair of loose-fitting pants and a striped button-down for a relaxed yet pulled-together look.

They also work well with a long skirt, or even a short dress if you want to go for the 2000s ‘skater girl’ aesthetic. With reinforced toe caps, supportive padded collars, and signature rubber waffle outsoles, they’re even perfect as workwear for hospo and retail jobs.

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But don’t just take it from us. A raft of celebrities have been spotted over the years wearing Old Skool sneakers, including big names like Rihanna, who provided us with a winter street style moment, pairing her Vans with a black hooded tracksuit and patent puffer to match. 

Pretty Woman star Julia Roberts also wore a pair of Old Skools in the iconic ’90s flick, Notting Hill. In a look that would definitely still fly today, she wore a chunky version of the sneakers with straight-leg jeans, a mid-length leather jacket reminiscent of the decade and accessorised with a black beret and sunnies. 

Other stars seen in the iconic style include the likes of Hailey Bieber, Zendaya, Kourtney Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Kirsten Stewart and Harry Styles. So next time you reach for your Old Skool’s remember – you’re in good company.

You can explore Vans’ full range here.

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