Vans Sk8-Hi – All You Need to Know

by Jamie Wilson
The Best Black High Top Sneakers

Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA

Shaping the skateboarding, music, and rebellious cultures, Vans is the established brand you need to make sure you have in your trainer collection. From the archived iconic designs, Vans have established to become a name successfully passing through the generations.

Originally released in 1976, the Sk8-Hi’s have soared the streets – on and off the deck. With similar characteristics and aesthetics to the Old Skool, there is no doubt to why the SK8-Hi’s are still rising with popularity. They’re considered the key sneaker of the Vans clan, especially with its individual collar quilted design around the ankle, waffle sole and the iconic “jazz stripe”.



Dating back to the 70’s, Sk8-Hi’s have been the key trainer for all skateboard fanatics globally. Originally named “Style 38”, based after the Old Skool (“Style 36”), the Sk8-Hi has become the staple trainer of the Vans culture. With the highest ankle of the Vans archive, they are still the most relevant for functionality to any skateboarder or BMX rider. Reducing marks and bumps along the ankles while riding, Sk8-Hi’s are the heart and soul model of Vans.

Another key statement for the trainer is the iconic “jazz stripe”. Originated from the early days of Don Van himself and his free doodling of designing – the stripe has become an iconic detail to any Van trainer, differentiating the design from the rest on the shelf.

With the iconic design and aesthetic of the trainer, after a decade Van Doren knew SK8-Hi had the potential than just being a leading shoe in the Van’s circle. With the rise of customization amongst his audience during the 1980s, Van knew how to seize the opportunity. Introducing the Vans enthusiasts to the opportunity of ‘designing their own’ Sk8-Hi with their own sourced fabrics, essentially filled the void to the Vans market – increasing demand to what it is today.



  • Over 100 collaborations for the anticipated trainer.
  • Still one of the growing sneakers of the archive, even after 40 years.
  • Signature design: Black & White
  • Quilted collar – protection of ankles with bumps and knocks of riding.
  • Holes on the toe cap to provide breathable technology.

Vans SK8-Hi X Collaborations

By the 1990s and 2000s, Sk8-Hi’s became more than just a trainer, but an essential in any wardrobe – especially if you are a Vans fan. While customization was still making an impact, Vans decided to step up the game further, working alongside influencers, leading to a range of collaborations.

Although most of the collaborations we know today are with brands and franchises, Vans originally grew with the collaboration of influencers. From Steve Caballero from Bones Brigade to Henry Rollins, who were seen wearing a pair of SK8-Hi’s during gigs or in press, pushed the brand further to its music association, essentially growing the outreach of the Sk8-Hi.

Today, the list of collaborations is ongoing. From cinematic names and franchises such as Bruce Lee and Disney, lifestyle brands such as Stussy and the high end of luxury with Marc Jacobs – the collaborations have no limits for the anticipated trainer.

Throughout the list, Vans have always kept what the skaters have loved – the classic “jazz stripe”and the consistency of functionality. The SK8-Hi design has become a timeless model to the brand, it’s unlikely the Sk8-Hi will be disappearing from our sneaker collections anytime soon.

Vans Sk8-Hi – All You Need to Know

  • This shoe is a classic, the hi-top design, quilted collar and of course the ‘jazz stripe’ all make the trainer what it’s become.
  • There have been many collaborations with influencers, brands and franchises, with each drop being more creative than the last.
  • Vans Sk8-Hi is a trainer that’s been around for a while and there’s no way it’s going to be lost any time soon. Time to invest and while you’re there you may as well try a few new styles.
Vans Low Cab

On That Note

When you know, you know. The Vans Sk8-Hi Trainer is one to pull out of the archive. The classic designs is sure to be around for a while, plus it can be paired with trousers, jeans and slim joggers if you’re feeling really casual. Each and every original design and collaboration have a personality of their own so there’s one suit suit each and every one of you.

Feature image from Pinterest

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