Vans Classics Celebrates the Legacy of the Sidestripe

Vans 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 we reflect 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. Hear more from Steve Van Doren about the origins of the Sidestripe on OffTheWall.TV (also viewable on YouTube).

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. 

Vans and streetwear label Supreme initiated the long-lasting Vans x Supreme range more than 15 years ago with a trio of Old Skools. “The Old Skool is iconic, classic skate,” said Supreme’s James Jebbia. “In 1996, it was one of the best shoes offered by Vans and really stood the test of time.” The following decade brought the renowned skateboard shoe to the runway. Tapping into the realm of haute couture, a series of collaborations with designer Marc Jacobs gave Vans the opportunity to play with high-end materials, premium patterning and limited size runs to present Old Skools fit for boutiques and sought after by collectors and sneaker aficionados all across the world. 

To this day, the Old Skool remains popular to action sports, art, music and fashion enthusiasts alike, while captivating the next generation of Vans fans. Spring 2014 honors the legacy of the Sidestripe with an expanded offering the Old Skool silhouette for men and women. From retro colorways dating back to the ‘70s and ‘80s to reissued prints from the archives featuring the original Van Doren heel tab, this extended assortment focuses on color, patterns and materials. Learn more about the history of the Vans Sidestripe and the Old Skool at