style profile ¬ VANS style #36 old skool October 22 2012
we are the 1st to admit our having overlooked style #36 & somehow allowed it to roll smooth like a silent assassin under our own internal RADar. never making a huge amount of mainstream noise nor gaining the credit it deserves, style #36 has undergone somewhat of revival of the last 2-3 years. although always maintaining classic status in asia & amongst certain core subcultures, we never officially fell in love with the flowing lines of above said model until documenting our upcoming releases.
introduced in '77 to complement the already established style #95, the old skool as it was later named was the first van made for skate to feature split-leather suede & provided further reinforcement for the off the wall exploits of late 70's thrashers. with suede heel stay & laces to the suede toe, this was the 1st significant departure from the vans deck shoe template & offered a more sneaker-like finish.
style #36 was also the 1st van to feature the archetypal jazz stripe designed by paul van doren in answer to the instantly recognisable swoosh & stripes within athletic footwear. we recently learnt the racing stripe was modelled on pauls liking to the exhaust of 67 shelby cobras. any speed freaks out there who can help with a point of reference?
just like the swoosh the jazz stripe too has undergone various tweaks since inception. the stripe of made in usa originals is thinner & certainly features more of a kink at the crest of the wave. the og embodies more personality & the handmade nature of those made pre '94 accounts for the sometimes spurious placement of existing stripes.
the stripe of modern incarnations lacks that jazzy, improvised spontaneity, instead resembling the fading heartbeat of keifer sutherland in flatliners. testament to its design however, the old skool has remained otherwise unchanged, however this is not to understate the vulcanised effects of those made in usa! for more nuances on the evolution of style #36 & the resonance of vans in the 80's & 90's can be seen here.
style #36 entered into a purely skate oriented realm in the late 70's, where it began its life in relatively unassuming colourways of white on blue, white on red, & black on gold. the red was a favourite of the pioneering stacy peralta who was the 1st skater to be paid to wear vans. the pool dominated realm of 70's skate meant however the #36 was somewhat overshadowed (unless worn with vans ankle guards!) by the more protective mid skool #37 before its disappearance & then ultimately by her bigger brother style #38 in 1978.
it was within the burgeoning world of bmx however where the #36 would flourish. bi-tonal colourways were perfect in combination with any number of factory looks & without as much need for high ankle support the old skool was instrumental. style #36 accompanied the #95s & #98s through the custom print & scene explosion of the early 80's & flowed into the 90's wherein we saw full suede examples & sometimes printed canvas without the jazz stripe.
all this time style #36 remained somewhat underground which did lend to crossover appeal into subcultures of skate-punk & trending within the american hardcore scene. we are far from punk rockers however we do know black flag & minor threat had close ties with vans & both ian mackaye & henry rollins were advocates of style #36. this was another factor which fed the mystique of the old skool & led to its status as one of the rarest & most sought after made in usa original vans classics.