For over five decades, Vans has been designing and creating shoes for those who do: skaters and artists, punks and business people. The brand is a connector between people from all generations and walks of life: a timeless yet perennially cool, accessible-to-anyone common currency.
The Van Doren Rubber Company opened on March 16, 1966. Founded by brothers Paul and Jim Van Doren, the company was originally unique in that it manufactured shoes onsite and sold them directly to the public. The shoes themselves were unique for another reason, although the first Vans classic—style #44, now known as the Authentic—was conceived as a deck shoe, it wasn’t too long before early skateboarders took note of the increased durability and the grip the now-signature waffle soles provided.
By the mid-‘70s, skateboarding was a genuine phenomenon, with its own set of rising stars. Vans quickly noticed driving guys like Stacy Peralta, Tony Alva, and Jerry Valdez from location to location in a van, and hooking them up with sneakers. Van Doren saw it as an easy tradeoff. A few free shoes for the guys in exchange for entrée into a whole new community. Vans then launched the Era. Its padded collar provided some extra ankle protection, and it rapidly became the skater’s shoe of choice. The Old Skool, the first pair to feature the signature Vans “jazz” stripe, arrived a year later in 1977, followed by the Sk8-Hi in ’78.
From here Vans only moved from strength-to-strength now firmly cemented into the Zeitgeist as core brand based in authenticity loved by skaters and snowboarders alike, you'd be hard push to find any major cultural happening in the last 50 years where there wasn't a pair of Vans nearby!