Vans Company History

Vans Footwear is the very first skateboarding shoe company and was founded in Anaheim, California on March 16, 1966. Originally starting out as a "mom and pop" store headed by Paul Van Doren and three other associates, The Van Doren Rubber Company took on a unique market by producing shoes for people and selling them direct and freshly manufactured.

The first shoes produced by Vans are now known as Authentic, but on that first day, they were called Vans deck shoes; and they sold 12 pairs the same day they opened up shop. Customers would order the shoes, have them custom made to fit, and they would be ready for pick-up that afternoon.

Vans continued to make skateboarding shoes and soon began producing BMX shoes as well. The sneakers were gaining in popularity because of their grippy soles that seemed to do wonders for extreme sports enthusiasts. In 1975, professional skateboarders Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta developed the Vans #95 shoes, which are now known as the Era.

The slip-on was first introduced in 1979, known as the #44 shoes, and they exploded in popularity and helped Vans Footwear establish a franchise by the end of the decade with 70 stores opening up in California selling these sneakers not just in America, but also all over the world.

Despite being a top choice of sneakers for both skateboarders and BMX riders, Vans Footwear got a little too far ahead of themselves in the early 80s and tried reaching out to other sports like wakeboarding and motocross and started producing other types of apparel. Unfortunately, these new additions did not catch on as fast as the shoes did in the years prior, and after draining all of their resources on the new products, Vans was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1983.

Just three years later, Vans wound up paying back all of their debts and the company was re-established under new ownership in 1988. In the following years, Vans was sold and traded hands numerous times; the most recent buy-out was worth an estimated $396 million in 2004 to Steve Van Doren, the son of Vans co-founder Paul Van Doren.

During the 1990s, Vans Footwear began its rise back to the top and was once again recognized as a legitimate company. In 1994, Vans became a sponsor for the Inaugural Triple Crown series and which eventually became known as the Vans Triple Crown series. They also took up the sponsorship of the Warped Tour in 1995 and branded it with their trademark. The 46,000-square-foot Vans indoor/outdoor skate park was established in 1998 in Orange County, California, followed by a second large skate park in 2002 in Orlando, Florida.

Nowadays, Vans remains one of the most popular skateboard shoe companies in the world, and they have paved the way for other top brands like Etnies, DC and Osiris to follow in their footsteps and help mold a whole new generation of skateboarding footwear. Vans shoes are considered by many to be the most durable shoes on the market. Additionally, their models are a lot more affordable than most other brands, making it very easy to find a great selection of quality, cheap Vans shoes even in common stores like Kohl’s.

In 2004, Vans became the first skate shoe company to offer customized shoes. They launch a section on their website called Vans Customs, which allows you to pick and choose different colors and patterns for each panel of the shoe you want to customize. They have three shoe styles to start out with--the Era, the Slip-On, and the Old Skool shoes. Even with such a rocky history full of ups and downs, Vans is still considered by many to be the best skate shoes on the market, over 40 years after their inception.

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