Vans released a new sneaker this past spring, the Sk8-Hi, just in time for the quintessential sneaker brand’s 50th anniversary. This isn’t the SK8-Hi’s first time around the skate park though. They were initially released in 1977 under the moniker, “Style 38,” and since then, have achieved icon status. This time, the brand took it a step further, releasing 50 different styles and colors of Sk8-Hi. Options include snakeskin, leather, floral prints and bandana details, which hit the shelves this past March.
Overall Murals hit the Brooklyn streets in celebration of the new shoe. For the release, we’re introduced to newly crowned Vans brand ambassador, Natalie Westling. Natalie, an established model, has been glued to her skateboard since she was 3. In fact, she loves the sport so much, she went as far as to tattoo the word “Skate” on her left arm, and the iconic Vans logo on her right. Since her arrival on the scene in 2014, she’s posed and donned threads for some of the greatest in the fashion industry. However, this Arizona native prefers to be off-camera, skating in her downtime. On two vast horizontal walls, the team painted larger than life murals of the fiery-haired model, sporting a silver chiffon maxi skirt, denim jacket and the brand’s leather kicks. As Overall developed the model’s muted cherub-like face, intrigued Brooklynites couldn’t help but stop, stare and snap photos.
Alongside Natalie, is Henry Rollins, frontman of American punk band, Black Flag. Since then, he’s managed to tack on actor, radio host and comedian under his list of accomplishments. However, before all that, Rollins was a part of skate culture, and to him, Vans are more than just cool kicks. “I’ve been wearing them since 1977,” he says, “They’ve been a part of my life since I was in high school, through skating and music, so it was a true fit.” The black and white mural of the frontman in brought back to his heyday, performing a show at the now defunct ALA Club in Austin, Texas. In this scene, he’s wearing the Van’s original Sk8-Hi’s.
On the biggest Vans mural, Overall added San Francisco-based artist, Jay Howell whose tattooed arms can be found sketching. He’s known for animating lovable cartoons, such as Bob’s Burgers, which currently airs on FOX and Nickelodeon’s Sanjay and Craig. Jay serves in the brand’s personal band of artists; inspired by the very skate culture that Vans helped perpetuate.
Cutting edge supporters and cultural celebrities such as these three examples prove that even after 50 years, Vans is still “Off the Wall.”