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.
This everyday style features Vans's waffle outsole and easy-on, easy-off elastics, and the simple upper is the perfect canvas for fun prints.
If high-tops are more your speed, you can't go wrong with the SK8-HI. First introduced in 1978, the style is equal parts fashion and function and pairs just as well with a dress as it does with jeans.
These unpretentious low-tops go with just about everything—plus, they come in more colors than you can count.
If high-tops are more your speed, you can't go wrong with the SK8-Hi. First introduced in 1978, the style is equal parts fashion and function and pairs just as well with a dress as it does with jeans.