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Vans Old Skool: the sneaker of Gen Z

All the reasons that made it an icon

Vans Old Skool: the sneaker of Gen Z All the reasons that made it an icon
Golf Wang x Vans Syndicate Old Skool (2013)
Vans x Fear of God Sk8-Hi (2016)
Vans x Anti Social Social Club Sk8-Hi (2017)
Vans Old Skool x Wood Wood (2018)
Vans Old Skool x Marc Jacbos (2006)
Vans Old Skool x Kenzo (2020)
Vans Old Skool x JJJJound (2017)
Undercover x Vans Old Skool (2017)
Supreme x Vans Old Skool (1996)
Mastermind Japan x Vans (2018)
Comme des Garçons Blac Market x Vans Old Skool (2019)

The Vans Old Skool is one of the most universal shoes ever, one of the few cross sneakers at any age group. Their potential lies in the ability to bring everyone who wears them together, and to be present both in the wardrobes of a high school and in the sneaker rotation of today's fashion icons. The range of his fans ranges from California skaters to Marcelo Burlon, from Bella Hadid to Travis Scott, from A$ap Rocky to Russell Westbrook through to the millions of teenage children of Generation Z.

The Vans Old Skool are successful because they are democratic and have a minimalist and genderless design that has made them one of the pillars of normcore aesthetics – that anonymity, practicality and simplicity has made a rule. The ubiquity of the brand's sneakers is so much that even in a difficult year like 2020, the brand has recorded a growth of 10% with a decrease of 7% relative to the last quarter ended in March, at the height of the lockdown. Even the legendary James Jebbia, founder of Supreme (with whom Vans collaborated in the mid-1990s), called the Old Skool:

"The Old Skool is iconic, classic skate. In 1996, it was one of the best shoes offered by Vans and really stood the test of time."

Minimalism, recognisability and versatility have given rise to the recipe of success for the Old Skool that, twenty years after being designed by Paul Van Doren and put on the market in 1977 under the name Style 36, have grown during the 90s to escape from the world of skateboarding in which they had originated to infiltrate all the youth subcultures of the time. In the years following its birth, in fact, the Old Skool was a sneaker that only skaters wore but their wide spread can be used to describe the parable of the influence that skate culture has had in contemporary youth fashion. During the 1990s and then increasingly in the early 2000s, Old Skool began to engage with the world of fashion and music. Through the models dedicated to Iron Maiden, Bad Religion or Slayer, Old Skool came into contact with the punk and rock world and thanks to figures such as that of Henry Rollins, icon of the first American punk rock, those same sneakers became even more popular among teenagers.

Over the last decade, in fact, the street aesthetic ended up bringing together the world of rap, surfing and skateboarding. The leading American rappers and singers began to abandon baggy jeans and snapbacks to wear T-shirts and sweatshirts of Supreme, Stusy or Thrasher, or the Vans Old Skool and a new generation of designers rode the wave of streetwear, turning it into a real world phenomenon, appearing wearing icons such as A$AP Rocky, which paired them with tailored trousers and crewneck baleen; Tyler, The Creator who in 2013 signed the Golf Wang x Vans Syndicate Old Skool to Kanye West who, on the song No More Parties in LA, sang: "Some days I'm in my Yeezys, some days I'm in my Vans". For all these years, the Vans Old Skool has been perhaps the only item of clothing common to both the most expensive wardrobes in the world and the most basic ones.

Supreme x Vans Old Skool (1996)
Vans Old Skool x Marc Jacbos (2006)
Golf Wang x Vans Syndicate Old Skool (2013)
Vans x Fear of God Sk8-Hi (2016)
Vans x Anti Social Social Club Sk8-Hi (2017)
Vans Old Skool x JJJJound (2017)
Undercover x Vans Old Skool (2017)
Mastermind Japan x Vans (2018)
Vans Old Skool x Wood Wood (2018)
Comme des Garçons Blac Market x Vans Old Skool (2019)
Vans Old Skool x Kenzo (2020)

But Old Skool is not only synonymous with minimalism: its ability to function as a frame to accommodate different cultural elements and to lend itself to all kinds of aesthetic variations has led them to collaborate with Supreme, Alyx, Marc Jacobs, Wacko Maria, Comme des Garçons and many other brands. Vans' strategy in this case was very unique: instead of capitalizing on his most in-demand sneaker - as Nike is doing with Nike Dunk - it preferred to continue to produce it in quantities accessible to everyone, while collaborating with other brands to create even the most limited Old Skool. In doing so, it rejected the so-called hype law, preferring to stay true to his tradition and continuing to provide Vans Old Skool on a large scale as it did in the beginning.

The Vans Old Skool are the real shoes of Generation Z because they are perhaps the only sneakers that have come from the feet of Gen Z idols, at the feet of gen Z members. They have embodied the youthness of the very young, offering themselves as a carrier able to connect the wardrobe of teenagers to that of their singers, models, actors, sportsmen, favorite designers.