Vans is a North American manufacturer focused on footwear and apparel for action sports. Founded on March 16th, 1966 by brothers Paul Van Doren and Jim Van Doren (alongside partners Gordon Lee and Serge Delia), the company first opened its doors at 704 E. Broadway in Anaheim, Calif. as the Van Doren Rubber Company.
Over the last 55 years, the brand has gone from a Southern California gem to a globally-recognized force in shoes. Its humble origins include a same-day, custom shoe-making process, which differentiated it from other footwear companies at the time. A direct-to-consumer strategy allowed for competitive pricing, as well as the reputation for one-of-a-kind shoes.
In the early 1970s, the Van Doren Brothers gained a larger consumer base than before thanks to skateboarders taking a liking to the Style #44 deck shoe, better known as the Vans Authentic. Its rugged makeup and sticky sole proved beneficial to the droves of skaters throughout SoCal. (Legend has it the shoe's durable build quality was inspired by the M4 Sherman tank.) The Vans Era (originally known as the Style #95) joined the brand's lineup in 1976, introducing a padded collar and different color combinations; it was designed by Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta, two legends within the skateboarding world. That same year, Vans' iconic “OFF THE WALL” logo debuts, appearing as a license plate at the heel.
Throughout the years, the California-institution has captured the loyalty of countless individuals with classic models like the Vans Old Skool (Style #36) and Vans Slip-On (Style #98), both released in 1977. The former introduced the “jazz stripe” logo, while the latter was featured on Sean Penn's character in the 1982 film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” in its signature Checkerboard pattern. After the release of the movie, the Slip-On became a go-to style for people all over the world. The Vans Sk8-Hi of 1978 and Vans Steve Caballero of 1988 (a signature shoe) further cemented the brand as a force to be reckoned within the skate community.
Despite still focusing on skateboarding, BMX and other action sports, the West Coast company has garnered notable attention among streetwear enthusiasts. High-profile collaborations with PATTA, Notre, BLENDS and Supreme have seamlessly blended sport and style, a core mission to the Vault By Vans category. Anderson .Paak, “The Simpsons” and Ronnie Fieg's KITH are also among the brand's collaborators. Collections with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and Damien Hirst have also become collectible, while expanding the company's audience.
Vans shoes continue being among the most affordable brand-name styles on the market, with adult sizing of popular models ranging from $50 USD (Slip-On) to $70 USD (Sk8-Hi).