Vans is an American manufacturer of skateboarding shoes and related apparel, based in Costa Mesa, California, owned by VF Corporation. The company also sponsors surf, snowboarding, BMX and motocross teams. Since 1996, the company has been the primary sponsor of the annual Vans Warped Tour traveling rock festival.
In 1944, Paul Van Doren dropped out of eighth grade at age fourteen when he realized he didn’t like school. He had a strong passion for horses and found his way to the race track where he earned the nickname “Dutch the Clutch”, and for just one dollar he would give you the odds of the race. Paul’s mother, Rena, did not enjoy the idea of Paul being without a job and not in school, so she insisted he get a job at Randy’s, a one-time shoe manufacturer in the U.S. His job entailed him to sweep the floors and make shoes. Paul eventually worked his way up the ladder and became the Executive Vice President at just 34 years old. Randy’s became one of the biggest shoe manufacturers in the U.S. From Van Doren’s quick success in Massachusetts, he was ordered to turn around a failing Randy’s factory in Gardenvale, California that was losing close to a million dollars each month. Paul and his brother Jim moved their families and settled in Anaheim to help the factory. After just eight months of being in Gardenvale, the factory was functioning better than the one in Massachusetts. Three months after saving the Gardenvale factory, Paul decided he wanted to start his own shoe brand.
On March 16, 1966, at 704 East Broadway in Anaheim, California, brothers Paul Van Doren and James Van Doren, Gordon C Lee, and Serge D'Elia opened the first Vans store under the name The Van Doren Rubber Company. The business manufactured shoes and sold them directly to the public. On that first morning, twelve customers purchased Vans deck shoes, which are now known as "Authentic". The company displayed three styles of shoes, which were priced between US$2.49 and US$4.99, but on the opening day, the company had only manufactured display models without any inventory ready to sell—the store rack boxes were actually empty.
Nevertheless, the twelve customers selected the colors and styles they desired, and were asked to return later in the afternoon to pick up their purchases. Paul Van Doren and Lee then rushed to the factory to manufacture the selected shoes. When the customers returned that afternoon to pick up their shoes, Paul Van Doren and Gordon C Lee realized that they had forgotten to maintain a cash reserve to provide change to customers. The customers were therefore given the shoes and asked to return the following day with their payments. All twelve of the customers returned the following day to pay for their items.
The original version of the Vans skateboard logo was designed in Costa Mesa, California in the 1970s by Mark Van Doren at the age of 13. The son of then President- and co-owner James Van Doren, Mark designed the logo as a stencil to be spray painted on his skateboards. Initially introduced for the heel tab on an early Vans’ skateboard shoe, the Style 95, this original Vans skateboard logo is an important part of Vans history.”
In 1988, Paul Van Doren and Gordon C Lee sold the Vans company to the banking firm McCown De Leeuw & Co. for US$74.4 million. In 1989, many manufacturers of counterfeit Vans shoes were apprehended by the US and Mexican officials and ordered to cease production.
In 2004, Vans announced it would merge into North Carolina based VF Corporation.