Vans Old Skool: Product Guide

Designed by our Vans founder Paul Van Doren, Old Skools first hit the streets in 1977. The first shoe to include a side stripe in its design, the casual low-top style and ‘jazz stripe’ of Old Skools has since become iconic.

With multiple panels made up of various materials and blank, thick rubber soles, part of Old Skools’ popularity was the fact they were highly customisable. By simply taking out a black pen and writing their name across their shoes, skateboarders, punk rockers and other Vans lovers could make their Old Skools their own.

The iconic design and customisable style of Old Skools are what continues to make them popular today. So whether you’re about to buy your first pair or you’re already an Old Skool fan, here’s all you need to know about this versatile trainer.

What are Vans Old Skools made from?

Vans Old Skools are made from suede and canvas uppers and rubber waffle outsoles. This, alongside reinforced toe caps and supported padded collars, makes Old Skools highly durable as well as stylish. These features made them popular with groups such as skateboarders who were looking for stylish, functional streetwear that would last up to daily wear and tear.

Alongside the multi-panel design, wide sole and unique sidestripe, Old Skools (previously known as Vans #36) are now an iconic low-top, lace-up design that’s become a hallmark of the Vans range. They’re also highly customisable, with plenty of options to choose from and personalise to suit your own style.

What styles of Vans Old Skools are available?

Vans Old Skools come in a huge range of styles. Although each pair of Old Skools has the unique, heritage look that everyone recognises, there are some designs that have particular features to suit your unique style.

Indeed, if comfort is a priority for you, then the ComfyCush Old Skools are the softest and most cushioned shoes in the range. With soles made from foam and rubber, they offer plenty of grip and durability while making you feel like you’re walking on a cloud. Alternatively, if you want a sole that will give you the ultimate grip with a look that gets back to the Old Skools’ roots, you should consider the classic and durable Gumsole design.

Certain Old Skool styles have also been developed to meet the needs of Vans lovers. The Skate design may look like any other Old Skools, but their sturdier DURACAP underlays, SICKSTICK gum rubber soles and POPCUSH cushioning means they offer skaters the iconic look with improved performance. If you prefer two wheels to four, then the BMX Old Skools have a unique WAFFLECUP construction, DURACAP underlays and a gum rubber sole that give great pedal feel, grip and durability.

Fulfilling the needs of our planet as well as our fans is also a priority for us, which is why we developed the Eco Theory range. Replacing the suede and canvas uppers with more sustainable organically grown cotton, hemp laces, and a 100% natural rubber sole, this design recreates the original with more environmentally-friendly materials.

Alongside the standard range, the majority of these styles are also available in Custom pairs. This means you can select the style you prefer and add your own unique artwork, prints, patterns or even photos to create a truly unique pair of Old Skools.

Age and sex

The casual, comfortable design of Old Skools makes them suitable for a range of ages and sexes. With men’s, women’s and unisex ranges, Old Skool shoes are available in the UK sizes 2.5 to 15, including many half sizes. If you’re looking for Kids' or Toddlers' shoes, many adult styles are available for ages one to four and four to eight. Plus, there are velcro-strap designs that will keep the littlest adventurers in your family comfortable and looking cool on the go.

Colours and designs

Designed to be unique and highly customisable, there are loads of patterns available in the standard Old Skool ranges. From black to orange and solid colours to checkerboard, leopard and tie-dye prints, there’s no shortage of designs available. Plus, with the Customs option available for most shoe models, you can make your Old Skools truly unique by adding your own patterns, prints or artwork to your Vans.

How do Vans Old Skool fit?

Vans Old Skool styles tend to fit true to size, with no need to adjust up or down for most designs. However, if you have slightly wider feet, then it might be worth ordering a half or full size up or selecting the wide sizing Customs option, particularly if you’re purchasing a Tapered pair of Old Skools.

How to style Old Skool Vans

Unique and highly customisable, Old Skool Vans are the perfect option for both casual and smart casual outfits. The classic monochrome design is one of the most versatile options. Simply pair with a set of jeans, chinos or a skirt for a stylish and comfortable look.

Alternatively, add coloured trousers or shorts to patterned Old Skools for some statement streetwear. However you choose to style them, the clean, cool look of Old Skools mean they’ll always finish off your outfit perfectly.

How to lace up Vans Old Skool

There are three ways you can lace up your Old Skools to keep you comfortable and your shoes looking cool: cross-lacing, straight-lacing and zipper-lacing. Plus, if you’re heading out to the skatepark or on your bike and want to avoid tripping over your laces, you can also hide them. Old Skools are made to be customised, and the way you lace them up is just one way you can make them your own.

How to clean Vans Old Skool

The way you clean your Old Skool Vans depends on the material they’re made from. If they’re leather or suede, then it’s recommended that you use specialist cleaning products to get the best results. For canvas or cotton, warm soapy water will get out most stains, although remover products are also available if you want a deeper clean.

To keep the white strip at the bottom of your shoes clean, we’d recommend using white vinegar, lemon juice, rubbing alcohol or acetone. Make sure you put masking tape on the material of the shoe before you start. Apply your chosen cleaning product using a soft-bristled brush and wipe it off thoroughly with a clean, damp cloth.

Baking sodas and mild detergents are the best products to clean the inside of your Vans, but make sure you leave them to air dry completely before you wear them. We wouldn’t recommend machine washing your Vans, as this can cause damage to the shoe.

What’s your favourite Old Skool style?

Designed to be comfortable and customisable, Old Skools are a unique and iconic everyday trainer. So whether you spend your weekends in the skatepark, on the BMX track or out on the sidewalk, check out our range of designs to find the ideal style for you.