just like fellow connoisseurs online (chris @artifact bags, classic kicks nyc) i too was perplexed by the mysterious 'style #37' appearing on early vans ads in the 70's. my original #37 style profile touched on it however further developments now leave it incomplete. as such, sitting numerically & aesthetically somewhere between a #36 old-skool & #38 sk8-hi, little was known about this elusive model. the original #37 we now know however was prominent during the the late 70's & was utilised on various acs/vans collabs (more details coming soon) & apparently favoured by cab & alva. it has since re-surfaced in various modern re-issues as the mid-skool '77 & indeed sits as a mid-cut hybrid between an old-skool & sk8-hi, with a vinyl heel logo at the top ankle.
as we know the style number #37 was later assigned to the native american, but not before it went through 2 further incarnations. style #238 was the 1st generation native american of the mid 80's featuring the small ollie patch & slim back-stay heel panel. several rare 'street style' natives were later produced when street skating was still in its infancy. legend has it the legend himself steve van doren organised the 1st street skate contest in '87 utilising obstacles such pool tables & parking blocks. in the 5 years to follow street skate officially boomed as vert skating fell by the curbside.
at this time it didn't take vans long to realise their shoes required further reinforcement to prevent blow-outs in this ollie based arena. as such, the early 90's saw the style #238 become the more highly evolved style #538 with wider heelstay & extended eyestay in place of the ollie patch. aesthetically we prefer the og look of the #238 (especially on 2-tone examples) but the changes did add shelf-life to what finally became the style #37. sitting somewhere between a #38 sk8-hi, with side logo patch replacing the jazz stripe & the rubber toe cap of a style #24 high top, it was perhaps an all-leather prelude to the iconic shoe of 90's street skate ¬ the half cab.
possibly pre-half-cab in 1992 a young gromit by the name of geoff rowley scored his 1st magazine cover for 'sakteboard!' mag uk, upon & inside of which he wore both incarnations of the native american.... on either foot!! even into his official vans sponsorship in 1999, rowley was known to dig for made in usa originals as that was all he could skate. on this occasion he scored a £5 pair of odd natives consisting of a right foot #238 & left foot #538, both in different sizes! now thats committment to the og cause! i just wish i could find such opposing relics these days for a fiver.
style #37 was a mainstay of core 90's street wear & became a popular option for custom colourways. (thanx 2 yam atso for the custom ad from '89). 2-tone colourways in flavours such as mint, pink & blue heralded the evolution of the use of 'native american' to the more wholesome & politically correct 'california native' line of apparel & accessories.
so if a mid-skool '77 sits between a #36 & a #38 but is no longer a #37, where the hell does the following pair sit? the sk8-mid as it is unoffically called is the forgotten middle child between the #36 & #38 however cannot be a #37. the numerology is academic however & despite existing as a limited mid 90's production of a #38 with 1 set of collar padding instead of 3, lives a hurried existence amidst the label of middle child syndrome. just as any good middle child aims to please at any cost, i'm guessing this wont be the last we hear of young sk8-mid.