style profile ¬ vans style #38 sk8-hi October 31 2012




not sure of the exact date of this ad which we have posted b4, however being so loaded with significance it deserves greater attention. dogtown era was in full swing as the blue/red/blue army flooded the streets & pools of california & the mouse went off the wall in the 'dog bowl' (zoom required)! style #36 were literally rolling out the door & style #37 mid skool was poised somewhere in between the 2, made fresh by hand, with 1 foot already in the grave so to speak. hopefully someone with the original ad or maybe knowledge of the tunes young 'red' is listening to could enlighten us to the exact date of issue, however our educated guess (with the help of the calender on/off the wall) is january 1977.

the lesser known 2nd installment in what we call the S.C series reveals a changing landscape. vans are still handmade by the same sweating craftsman, the dogtown #95s are still prevalent however skate has taken a back seat to the domineering world of bmx. style #36 retains its position on the podium meanwhile the advance in helmet development & the arrival of knee pads accompany the replacement of the #37 mid skool with the style #38 sk8-hi & the new lines of flight it now necessitates. printed scenes & canvas have now also become available & carbon date this ad from perhaps october 1982?

































this essentially says it all about the evolution of the style #36 into the style #38 via style #37. late 70's pool & vert skating necessitated the extra cushioning & ankle support provided by the highest hi-top to be added to the off-the-wall collection. the suede eyestay & heelstay were extended across the 3 rolls of padded collar while new toe ventiliation helps keep you cool. speaking of cool, the new trajectory of bmx unfolding in the late 70's & beyond, offered a new landscape for vans dependability of traction, fit & snappy styling with new advances in comfort, protection & durability. the vinyl jazz stripe also made the transition however now flowing on a different wavelength. until recently we had not noticed the stripe of a #38 exhibits more the dip or trough of a wave than an old skool peak or crest. this was accentuated further by the eventual modification of the style #38 as it was adopted as the vehicle of choice through the paradigm shift in core sports the next decade end would bring. 

introduced in 1978, style #38 was there at the high water mark of vertical skating, helped bmx make fresh tracks in the 80's & underwent its first change in form only after 10 years of solid thrashing. the advent of street skating in the late 80's & the ripple effect of ollie-based tricks dictated a new threshold for action footwear. in confrontation with frequent blow-outs from ollie & flip-based tricks the style #38, much like the style #37 around the same time, underwent a few modifications. the suede heel stay was widenened to protect & reinforce the ankle while the suede eyestay was expanded to form an ollie patch of sorts for greater durability. although these changes were for the greater good of construction & did reduce the high turnover of skate shoes, we think the overall aesthetic was impaired as the trend towards this 1st generation look re-release may indicate. the integrity of the flowing jazz stripe had now been compromised like a musicain cut short amid improv.

we also have evidence of a few more manifestations of style #38 including what was known as #138 with an extanded rubber toe box. this is a rare style perhaps re-designed to combat destructive knee slides on vert although was also prominent in bmx circles. just as we featured our solid suede style #36 recently we also found evidence of a full suede sk8-hi known as style #338. the style number #438 was also used interchangeably with #38 & did become redundant around the same time as the 1st generation sk8-hi although not exclusively. the last manifestation was in response to the kids on the street cutting down the padded collar of their #38 to a sk8-mid & as such it was thus coined.

out of all the models released by vans over the years it is the sk8-hi which embodies the most spirit & is loaded with attitude. its origin was skate, to where it remains loyal. an unofficial member of original bones brigade team it had & still has vert, freestyle & street credibility. it traversed the helltrack of bmx through the 80's & 90's & maintains a place in flatland & race history. the crossover appeal into underground subcultures such as punk & hardcore speak volumes for its longevity & authenticity. it is a statement of intent. the most versatile, sought after & pre-eminent core shoe of all time.