First it was the Bean Boot. Then the Stan Smith. Now? The latest wildly popular footwear is the humble Vans Old Skool, a skater shoe that has surpassed its humble roots to become an icon in its own right.
The simple canvas shoes, identified only by their low profile and the thin leather line that snakes along the sides, seem to be popping up more and more often, even on those who don’t come from a skater background. GQ spotted the trend back in August of 2016 after editor Max Berlinger noticed the shoe’s increasing presence on stylish guys.
Vans confirmed to Business Insider that sales for the line of shoes were higher in 2016 than in previous years. The company points to the Vault by Vans project, which takes classic shoes and revamps them, as a factor that “ignited the interest in the Old Skool.”
After designers like Marc Jacobs and Opening Ceremony signed on to collaborate with Vans on versions of the sneaker, the Old Skool enjoyed a higher profile. For the company’s 50th anniversary in 2016, Vans reissued some classic designs with vintage silhouettes and expanded offerings. Particularly in the last two years, sales of the Old Skool have increased, and by fall of 2016, the shoe became one of Vans’ highest-selling styles globally.
A unisex style, the shoe’s newfound popularity means that it now has a broader appeal, and the percentage being bought by women has increased. It now comes in a “pro” style that is a little more expensive and durable, as well as a lightweight model and a winter version that holds up better to inclement weather.
“Sneakers have become a wardrobe staple for many occasions, and the Old Skool has become one of those iconic models,” Dabney Lee, senior director of merchandising for Vans’ classics line, told Business Insider.
The Vans Old Skool’s style dovetails well with broader industry trends, like the shift to lifestyle-oriented sportswear and the focus on simple designs in retro or classic styles. Similar consumer preferences led the Stan Smith to become a fashion favorite and a big hit for Adidas in 2015.