After learning how to make sneakers in America's East Coast, Paul van Doren founded sneaker company Vans. The idea behind this brand was that he could sell his products directly to customers, making them cheaper.
In 1966, Paul and his partners Jim van Doren, Gordy Lee and Serge D'Elia moved to California and built the one and only Vans factory, subsequently opening the very first Vans shop. At that time, you could choose from three varieties.
In the 1970s, skateboarding became extremely popular and Vans was seen as the shoe of choice for skateboarders. The skaters started giving feedback about the products and asked for new colorways and combinations. And it worked! Vans created a skate shoe called the 'Era' in 1976 and a year later the Old Skool. By working with skate professionals Stacy Peralta and Tony Alva, Vans showed they were willing to listen to the needs of skaters.
In the late 1970s, Vans had seventy shops in California and sold both nationally and internationally. In the eighties, Vans also released shoes for other sports such as Baseball and Basketball. Unfortunately, this did not work, because these shoes ended up selling for less than how much they were made for. The results were so bad that they had to file for bankruptcy.
When the company was restructured, the owners sold the company to the McCown de Leeuw Company to breathe new life into the brand. From the mid-1990s, the shoes were no longer made in the United States, but in Asia, after the traditional technique of Vans could no longer realise a profit.
When the Vans Half Cab came out, it became one of the most recognizable skate shoes ever. During the 'cut-down shoes' trend in the early nineties, several Vans models were very popular. Skaters cut their trousers loose at the ankles and took a small piece of the shoes off, then the shoes were sealed with stickers to prevent fraying. This gave the skaters more space at their ankles, allowing them to perform tricks better.
Today, Vans sponsors professional athletes in the skate, surf and BMX scene, like Tom Schaar, Lizzie Armanto, Omar Hassan and many more.