They say fashion is cyclical, but does that explain the (relatively) sudden ubiquity of a 50-year-old sneaker brand? Vans rose to popularity in the '60s as an emblem of Southern California skateboard culture, but in recent years, some of its most fervent customers are far more likely to have discovered the brand through street style or Instagram than at the local skate park. The most iconic Vans styles have also been some of the best selling among women, particularly the Old Skool and SK8-HI, two styles that feature the signature wavy side stripe.
Rather than pumping out new models every few months like some of its competitors do, the brand tends to stick to a few classic silhouettes and tweak the details, offering an ever-expanding array of new colorways, materials, prints, and platform heights (it did release wedge sneakers once, but that was a short-lived experiment). Cool-kid collaborations are also increasingly part of Vans's DNA, with designers and brands like Off-White, Alyx, Karl Lagerfeld, and Opening Ceremony lending their visions to the shoes.
Below, we've rounded up the five must-know Vans styles every fan should have in their collection, along with our favorites to shop now.
These throwback skate shoes have arguably taken the place of Stan Smiths as fashion's favorite sneakers du jour. Go with classic black and white, snag a limited-edition style, or even customize your own pair—the options are practically endless.