Posted on17 March 2008.
What you put on your feet is as important as what you put under them. One of the oldest names in skateboard accessories, Vans has been putting style to the toe with world-class footwear for skaters since the very beginning of the sport.
Van Doren Rubber Company founded by Paul Van Doren in 1966 has evolved into Vans Skateboard Shoes. Based in southern California, Vans began by filling custom-made sport shoe orders and make them right there in the local store. Originally, you actually could watch your shoe being made for you, as business picked up, the gap between order and delivery widened to a few days.
Vans created the waffle shoe, with vertical, zig-zag lines on the sole of the shoe for grip when they noticed that skateboarders would crack the diamond patterned sole very quickly.
The brand is embraced by die-hards not only in skateboarding, but among related extreme spots like surfing and snowboarding. Having sponsored events relating to punk and ska music has helped earn the loyalty of those who mix their music and locomotion. The company has sponsored several punk and ska tours, as well as being the subject of love serenades such as “The Vans Song,” by the Suicide Machines and “Vans” from the rap group, “The Pack”.
The simple four-letter logo is an urban icon of the sports-rock lifestyle that infuses the West Coast, and the brand sponsors an impressive team of pros in not only skateboarding, but BMX biking and surfing as well. The “Warped Tour” has been a must-attend on the agenda for extreme sports enthusiasts and music fans since it was launched in 1995.
Vans skateboard shoes are synonymous with Southern California, where every other young foot is clad in them. Hollywood star and surfing aficionado Sean Penn added to the brand’s fame, sporting the shoes prominently in his classic role as “Jeff Spicoli” in the comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Vans was also prominently featured in the ground-breaking documentary “Dog town and the Z-boys,” which received about $800,000 in financial aid from Vans. The line-up of both pro and amateur skaters has featured a relationship with some of the biggest names in skating, like Stacey Peralta, while today’s team lists such move-masters as Bucky Lasek, Geoff Rowley and Tony Trujillo.
Vans Skateboard shoes now come in the widest variety of styles, from slip-on and low-cut to boot. The company has been through many changes, alienating many loyalists when they ventured into the arenas of football and baseball shoes. Facing bankruptcy in the eighties brought Van Doren to the edge of solvency, and the company was purchased by McConval-Deluit, a corporate investor who took the Vans public in 1991. The company is now owned by VF Corporations, a multi-national specializing in lines which appeal to youth culture.
With a high-top design and skate-optimized sole, Vans are the shoe of choice for serious skaters, who naturally enough wear them all day long. After all, you never know when you might have a minute to hit that stairwell or find a phatty downhill.