Sneakers
From the ground up

What is it with skating? Seriously, how is it that something which was once done exclusively by kids down Californian streets and alleyways comes to dominate so much of contemporary culture? From the lingo down to the threads, skating and skate culture is pretty much all-pervasive. Maybe it’s the attitude it evokes and the lifestyle it suggests: it’s just you and your board, reclaiming a city.

Or maybe, actually, really, it’s just more down to the style. We all know skating demands comfort, and demand breeds innovation. So we’ve seen oversized, baggy cuts go up the trend charts, while on our feet, shoes have become more like sneakers and sneakers, in turn, have become more durable. One of the first to do this as a brand was Vans with its iconic Sk8-Hi hi-top, ankle padded, sports sneaker, released way back in 1978. It’s probably one of the reasons why the sneaker and the brand have managed to stick around for so long: the Sk8-Hi responded directly to skater requirements of further ankle buttressing as they careered up the sides of empty backyard swimming pools made of concrete. As you do…

But, we know, we get it, we’re not gonna lie: hi-tops can be tricky to style. Partly because we’re used to seeing this cut on the feet of athletes, sporting it with socks and shorts. The hi-top makes an attempt to reach up to the hem of the shorts, which makes aesthetic sense to our eyes. Wear them with ankle-length bottoms however, and your judgment has to be on point.

Right? Well not necessarily. The Sk8-Hi is one of the most versatile sneakers around. Not convinced? No worries. To solve you and your sartorial conundrum, we roped in colleagues from across Highsnobiety‘s Berlin HQ who’re all bonafide Sk8-Hi fans and got them to style it their way. They also helpfully gave us their thoughts too on the legend. Style it yourself and get the wardrobe staple direct from Vans.

How to Style the Sk8-Hi

Nigel – E-Commerce

1. Talk us through how you styled the Sk8-Hi and why you did it that way.

The Sk8-Hi is an icon, so I styled it with icons. A Carhartt pocket tee and Dickies Slim Straight Work Pants. Honestly, I could’ve put on anything though, since Sk8-Hi’s go with everything.

2. Does the Sk8 Hi mean anything to you (and if so, why)? Is there anything you think of when you see the silhouette?

The Sk8-Hi’s just an Icon to me. It’s something every sneaker collector should own. Just like an AF1 or Superstars.

3. How does it feel wearing it? What’s the feel and ride like when using it (either walking, skating, cycling, etc)?

The first wear is always weird, but after some time they can become like a second skin. I prefer Vans’ Pro line tho with the improved cushioning.

Shane – Creative

1. Talk us through how you styled the Sk8-Hi and why you did it that way.

I just wore what I usually do really: generic, stereotypical, meme-able skatewear. Sk8-His go with everything, so they kind of style themselves.

I tend to not lace them to the top so they’re a little easier to slip on, and you still get the full support around the ankles. I just went for the classic black and white cw, though I’ve been really tempted to get the navy ones recently.

2. Does the Sk8 Hi mean anything to you (and if so, why)? Is there anything you think of when you see the silhouette?

It’s just a classic shoe. I’ve found myself jumping back-and-forth between it and the Old-Skool for so long now. Growing up watching skate videos it was always on my radar, so many brands are now retroactively trying to fake that connection, but the sk8-hi’s have had a strong place in that culture forever.

3. How does it feel wearing it? What’s the feel and ride like when using it (either walking, skating, cycling, etc)?

Yeah, it’s such a nice shoe to skate in. The board-feel is identical to other Vans, and the additional support is definitely a bonus. They’ve been so popular for so long for a reason.

Karo – Audience Development

1. Talk us through how you styled the Sk8-Hi and why you did it that way.

I didn’t need to think too much about how to ’style’ them, I just wore some of my favorite clothes and knew that they would go perfectly with the Sk8-His.

2. Does the Sk8-Hi mean anything to you and, if so, why? Is there anything you think of when you see the silhouette?

Sk8-Hi’s are a classic and are always a safe choice since they look good with basically everything. The silhouette is very lowkey and basic which is exactly what I look for in sneakers.

3. How does it feel wearing it? What’s the feel and ride like when using it? Like either walking, skating, cycling…?

They feel comfortable and very stable. I cycle to work every day so I appreciate the added support around the ankle.

Louie – Video

1. Talk us through how you styled the Sk8-Hi and why you did it that way.

Vintage Calvin Klein dungarees with some cute little patches to give it that childhood feel, mixed with my dad’s old shirt, sunglasses from HAN Kjøbenhavn and a chain from the hardware store.

2. Does the Sk8-Hi mean anything to you and, if so, why? Is there anything you think of when you see the silhouette?

Definitely skate culture, although I’ve never been a skater myself. Stuck to rollies as a kid, but now I’ve moved on to roll other stuff.

3. How does it feel wearing it? What’s the feel and ride like when using it? Like either walking, skating, cycling…?

Good and sturdy! Since I was never a skater and never managed to complete a single ollie, I wouldn’t know how they are to skate in! But walking, jumping around and biking are a treat!

Fania – Production

1. Talk us through how you styled the Sk8-Hi and why you did it that way.

Not gonna lie, I am more a high heel person. However, styling flat shoes is somehow so much easier. The Sk8-Hi more basic and so was my outfit choice: red statement shirt, vintage belt and trackpants. Comfy and exciting!

2. Does the Sk8-Hi mean anything to you and, if so, why? Is there anything you think of when you see the silhouette?

It seems like a very stable skate shoe. The Sk8-Hi reminds me always of the game Tony Hawk’s Pro Sk8ter land..haha

3. How does it feel wearing it? What’s the feel and ride like when using it? Like either walking, skating, cycling…?

I guess because it’s so stable you could build houses with it—solid.

Next, watch and read up on how the Sk8-Hi actually came to be, and how it became an icon.

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