Last year was the Half Cab’s 20th year of existence. Like the Caballero three years before it Vans decided to honor the shoe and its history in the skating community. There were great differences in how Vans decided to honor both the Caballero and Half Cab. Getting down to the nit and grit some would say perhaps one was better than the other. High top vs mid top, everyone has a preference. Today everything is less about functionality and more about the look and styling of a shoe. Aesthetics can help make a silhouette popular or cheapen and dull it.
Logo of 20th anniversary Half Cabs.
In 2009 Vans celebrated the Full cab’s 20th anniversary. Although the forerunner to the Half Cab, it was never as popular as its successor. Despite this Vans gave the Caballero a full on red carpet style celebration. It had a release for all of Vans’ divisions, the most unique being the California line, and the most classy being the Vault releases. The Cali release was extremely loud and definitely had a California flavor to it. The Vault division decided to strip away the croc accents and use all leather uppers, needless to say what resulted was a luxury skate shoe. Emphasis on the luxury. Moreover Vans chose to continue using the Caballero’s dragon logo, albeit for the Cali release which had a XX logo. The Dragon logo was especially important as it seems less like a symbol for a skater, but more like a symbol of reserved power. It also served as a way for Steve Caballero to pay homage to his Asian heritage, seeing as he was one of the few pro Asian skaters back in 1989. However when everything was said and done the Caballero was sadly shelved once again as 2009 came to a close. Whats really interesting is that the dragon logo of the Caballero is now being used for the new Cab Lite model.
Last year in 2012 it was time for the Half Cab to celebrate its own birthday. This time Vans did things very differently. There were no Vault or California releases for the Half Cab. Instead there were reissuings of classic colors and four different artists who would redesign the iconic sneaker in their own unique ways. The releases were all very general. Mofo’s edit was subtle, but cleaver; Dirty Donnie did a retro 90s design; Metcallica’s was a very dark and metal update. Then there was Taka Hayashi’s redesign, his was the blacksheep of the entire collection, Steve Caballero and the Half Cab font are reimagined as skeletons. Although it doesn’t seem like many people understood it nor was there much love for Taka’s redesign. Finally we had Steve Caballero redesigning the Half Cab himself! He redrew himself as a anthropomorphic dragon, and the old school font was rebirthed in Japanese typography. Although it wasn’t the last release, it was probably the most unique release. Seeing that the dragon motif just has more a flavor and personality to it. Now in 2013 the Half Cab returned to its normal state with Steve Caballero performing the half cab as it logo.
Although recently Vans has released a pair of Vault Half Cabs. They were designed by Taka, apparently he chose to stay with his updated take on the Half Cab, even adding more of his own personality to the shoe with extra accents like animal skeleton graphics. A month before these released Steve Caballero himself did a collaborative exhibition with Asian artist Jahan Loh. While it may seem odd to some, Steve does actually contribute to the world of art. Aptly named the double dragon exhibition, to further make the experience truly unique they teamed up with Subcrew. Together they made a vinyl figure of Caballero’s redesigned Half Cab logo, while they released the same logo as a graphic tee. So a great design was seemingly saved? Yes and no.
Theres probably many people who loved Steve’s update to the Half Cab and wish his newer logo would have stuck. Its design just seems…right. While there are some tees and vinyl figures that utilize Steve’s Half Cab logo, we might never see it again. The tees are only sold in special stores designated by Subcrew. While the figures are sold online. Theres no guarantee that Steve will release more products using his newer Half Cab logo nor will his design probably replace the original logo. However it seems very ironic that Taka continues to use his own design, while Steve’s design has not made a reappearance on any new Half Cabs. It sort of reminds you of how the Caballero was reissued for a while. That dragon on the side of the shoe, just resting, and waiting for its moment. Its something that many old schoolers liked, and newer people fell in love with. It too remains elusive, like a man trying to prove the authenticity of a myth.
The bottom line is should Steve Caballero let a great redesign of the Half Cab die? Or should he push for it to become a permanent fixture on the Half Cab? If maybe for all models, then maybe at least the Vault variations. If he can’t do that, then maybe he can just use the design in a different way. While it may seem vastly irrelevant, it really is important. Not really from a skating point of view, but more from an art perspective. Good designs should never be chucked aside, they should be wholeheartedly embraced and taken as far as they can go. For Steve it might seem a bit like deja vu. The Full Cab has yet to be fully resurrected. While theres nothing wrong with the Half Cab, its spirit was just very different compared to the Caballero. Steve’s design really brought a missing element back to the Half cab, being that dragon. Standing on both legs performing a half cab, it seems like the dragon has fully awakened. It might also be a reflection on Steve’s prosperity in both his professional and personal life. Hopefully we’ll get to see more of Steve’s dragon Half Cab. Or at least bring back the Caballero…please.