owned by Effeti
On March 16, 1966, at 704 E. Broadway, in Anaheim, California, brothers Paul Van Doren, James Van Doren, and three other partners opened up their first store. The Van Doren Rubber Company was unique in that it manufactured shoes and sold them directly to the public. On that first morning, 12 customers purchased Vans deck shoes, which are now known as Authentic. The shoes that were made earlier that day were ready for pick-up in the afternoon.
The company continued to grow into the 1970s. During this period they also produced wool lined canvas and rubber mukluks under contract to the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force. Skateboarders who liked Vans rugged make-up and sticky sole were seen sporting Vans all over Southern California in the early 1970s. In 1975, the Vans #95, known today as the Era was designed by Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta. With a padded collar and different color combinations the Era became the shoe of choice for a generation of skateboarders due to the non slip bottom making it easier to grip better. In 1976, Vans introduced the #44 shoe, and with the help of skateboarders and BMX riders the Vans Slip-On became all the rage in Southern California. By the end of the 1970s, Vans had 70 stores in California and sold through dealers both nationally and internationally.
As the 1980s rolled around, Paul Van Doren began to take a lesser role in the company’s activities. Over this period, Vans started to create shoes for a number of sports from skateboarding, wakeboarding, motor cross, to surfing in an effort to compete with large athletic shoe companies. Vans Slip-Ons gained international attention and appeal when they were worn by Sean Penn in the 1982, iconic youth film Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Although Vans core shoes were selling well, the wide range of products that the company now offered had drained the company’s resources, and with Vans not able to overcome its debt they were forced to file for bankruptcy in 1983.
After three years, Vans had paid back all creditors and emerged from bankruptcy. In 1988 Vans original owners sold the company to an investment banking firm. The company has been sold several times since; most recently for $396 million in 2004 to Greensboro, N.C.-based VF Corporation. Steve Van Doren, the son of co-founder Paul Van Doren, is still with the company, as is his sister Cheryl and his daughter Kristy. Vans closed their Orange, California factory and began manufacturing footwear overseas in 1994. In 1994, Vans sponsored the Inaugural Triple Crown series which developed into the Vans Triple Crown series. In 1998, Vans opened a 46,000-square-foot (4,300 m2), indoor-outdoor Vans Skate park at the Block in Orange County and in 2002 an enclosed skatepark was opened in the Festival Bay Mall on International Drive in Orlando, Florida. In 2000 and 2001, Forbes recognized Vans as one of “America’s Best Small Companies.” In 2004, Vans launched the Vans Customs on their website. This allowed customers to log onto the Vans website and design their own pair of Vans Slip-ons, mid-cuts, or high-tops. Nowadays, it allows for the design of custom Era, Slip-On, Old Skool, and 106 Vulcanized shoes.
Vans has been the primary sponsor of the Warped Tour music festival since 1995. It also holds the naming rights to BOWL-A-RAMA
The company will be building its first free skate park that is open to the public in Huntington Beach, California. The park will be 50,000 square feet (4,600 m2) and Vans will pay the city $1 per year for the 20 year lease.