On March 16, 1966 at 704 East Broadway in Anaheim, California, USA, brothers Paul Van Doren and James Van Doren, Gordon Lee, and Serge D’Elia opened the first Vans store under the name – The Van Doren Rubber Company.
Formerly known as Style 38, the Sk8-Hi was a groundbreaking style that made it a staple for skateboarders around the world. The shoe rolled out of the Anaheim based Van Doren Rubber Company and was the second variant to come out after the legendary silhouette – The Old Skool. A random doodle by Paul Van Doren became the symbol of Vans in the shape of a stripe. The Sk8-Hi was the second shoe from the house of Vans to have the honor of adorning that badge.
The Sk8-Hi was introduced in 1978 as “Style 38,” and featured the signature Vans sidestripe which was formerly known as the “jazz stripe.” The silhouette took your regular skate shoe’s functional element and took it above the ankle by shielding bones from injuries caused by skateboards.
The shoe was not just functional but it became quite popular among skaters due to the added protection it offered while looking stylish.
With more surface-area to put their creative art to use, the shoe saw a lot of success with people who’d simply put their pen to the surface of the shoe and personalize it to their own tastes. These were the earliest stages of Vans’ Custom program.
Designers and brands like Taka Hayashi, Stüssy, Pendleton, Marc Jacobs, Cncpts, Niagara, and Supreme opened doors for Vans to avenues never explored before. Better materials, funky styles, patterns and laser perforation were things Vans wasn’t known for. Not to mention their collabs with Disney and fast forward to 2016 with Nintendo brought back childhood memories for many, consequently raising their mass market appeal.
Just like Chuck Taylors, Vans were some of the most worn sneakers on stages by rock and metal bands. In the 1990s, Vans developed a band shoe program that evolved naturally from this culture. Sk8-Hi models dedicated to legendary acts such as Slayer, Iron Maiden, Bad Brains, and Social Distortion converged with the new demographic of fans.
The Sk8-Hi has survived the test of time. It has carried every durable material like leather, suede and coated canvas to a range of retro colors and prints from the Golden Coast, Van Doren collections, the 50th anniversary multi color checkerboard patterns, the musings of Vans’ favorite designer Taka Hayashi and the best in weather-resistant technologies as its skin. The Sk8-Hi continues to be the shoe of choice for many designers and boutiques who salute this timeless classic’s impeccable legacy.