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    The History of Vans, Told Through 12 Sneakers

    How two brothers from California changed sneakers, skating and culture forever.

    Author: Ian Stonebrook Updated On: May 2, 2023

    “Vans has always been about the community, culture and authenticity. Ask all the skate legends, artists and musicians they’ve worked with throughout the years," explains Bill Cruz, founder of celebrated Vans community Under the Palms. The story of Vans is a familiar one, rooted in a time of rapid cultural change that over the decades would go on to become a cross-generational phenomenon, spanning the athletes and creatives noted by Cruz.

    In 1966, brothers Paul and Jim Van Doren set out on a simple mission: to create shoes for customers in California and sell them directly to the public instead of selling them wholesale to retailers. The Van Doren brothers, along with partners Gordon Lee and Serge Delia, officially opened for business on March 16 at 704 E. Broadway in Anaheim, California. 

    On their first day of business, Van Doren sold 12 made-to-order pairs of their #44 Deck Shoes, better known as the Authentic. Over time, Vans sneakers became an instant success within the skate community, thanks in large part to their vulcanized waffle soles. Beyond the skate community, the sneakers served as a source of self-expression due to their customization business model. The business boomed over the course of the next decade and by 1978, their product offering grew with the introduction of the Old Skool, Classic Slip-On, Sk8-Hi and Era models.

    The Vans mission continued to evolve over the decades, setting their sights firmly on skateboarding in the '70s, sponsoring the Warped Tour in the '90s, and becoming a staple of street culture and sneaker collecting worldwide in the ‘00s.

    From the Van Doren Rubber Company's California origins to its global meteoric rise, discover how Vans brought together the worlds of music, fashion and sports like no other, all while staying true to its core values.

    How to clean white vans? 

    For more information, consult our How to Clean Sneakers Guide.

    Do vans run big or small?

    Vans sneakers run true to size. 

    Where to buy Vans shoes online?

    You can buy Vans on GOAT. Explore a selection of Vans here.

    Who owns Vans? 

    VF Corporation owns Vans.

    What are the new Vans that came out?