Launching in 1966, Vans started humbly with only a few designs in a few colors. Eventually, the brand found its footing within the skating community, beginning to work with professionals within the sport and sponsoring numerous music and skating events. Read on to learn more about the iconic company.
They Have Owned Several Skate Parks. Starting in 1998 with their first indoor park in Orange, California, Vans has operated a number of skate parks in California and the rest of the United States, including parks in New Jersey, Virginia, Texas and Colorado. A skate park in Florida was opened in 2002 but closed in 2012. They opened their first free skatepark in Huntington Beach, California in 2014.
Vans Sponsors a Music Festival. Many people will just call Warped Tour “Warped Tour,” but its actual name is “The Vans Warped Tour.” They have been sponsoring it since the tour’s second year in 1996 when it still combined music with professional skateboarding demonstrations.
There Were Only A Few Original Styles. The first three styles of shoe the company produced were the two eyelets, the slip-on and the lace up, which came in a number of colors. These were all referred to by number in the store rather than by name. The store also had a leather boat shoe, a leather deck shoe, and a canvas boat shoe. Prices per pair ranged from $2.29 to $4.49.
Vans Collaborated with PacSun on Apparel. In 1999, Vans teamed up with Pacific Sunwear to create a line of men’s clothing. Dubbed VanPac, the combination of the Vans name and the PacSun retail network allowed the companies to finally able to compete in the skateboard apparel market.
The Shoes Have a Unique Sole. The original Vans shoe had a diamond pattern on its rubber sole, but customers complained that it cracked too easily. A vertical line was added to the pattern for stability, creating the iconic, patented Vans waffle sole.
They Opened 10 Stores in 10 Weeks. After the first store, the brand expanded rapidly. There was a period where Paul Van Doren opened a store a week and over a year-and-a-half, there were more than 50 stores.
The Shoes Used to be Manufactured Stateside. In 1987, many shoe companies were starting to shift their production over to South Korea, where labor is cheaper. Not Vans. They continued to manufacture all of their shoes in their Orange, California plant until 1993. Doing this allowed the company to have a five-day turnaround on orders that took other companies nine months.
They Were First Known as the Van Doren Rubber Company. Vans was started by brothers Paul and James Van Doren, Gordon Lee and Serge D’Elia as the ‘Van Doren Rubber Company.’ After James Van Doren was given control of the company’s direction in 1976, the shoes’ popularity continued to grow until cheaper knock-off brands started to come onto the market. This prompted James Van Doren and the company to declare bankruptcy. Once Paul Van Doren took over, he cleared their debut in 1986. Tired of overseeing the company’s day-to-day needs, he sold it to McCown De Leeuw & Co in 1988, and the name changed to Vans, Inc.
Vans Owns an Indoor Skate Park / Venue in Brooklyn, New York. The “House of Vans” opened in 2011 and features an indoor skate park with enough room left over for a couple of music stages. In fact, this is one of the appealing things about the venue, since they hold combination concert/skate events there. Every summer since 2011, they have put on a series of free-with-RSVP summer concerts, dubbed the Vans House Parties, with both new and known punk bands.
They Also Own a Venue in London. The London “House of Vans” was established in 2014 in an old, unused, underground subway tunnel. House of Vans London also has a skate park and holds events four days a week and sometimes on weekends.
You Can Buy Custom Vans. The idea for custom shoes came early on when customers wanted custom colors of shoes. If a customer could come in with their own fabric, they would make it into a shoe. They did the same thing for Catholic schools. Since 2004, customers have had the opportunity to design their own, custom shoe through the brand’s website.
Their First Day Was a Bit Disorganized. When they opened their first retail store in 1966, the company had only made display models to show off the shoes, but no inventory. The twelve people who purchased shoes had to come back later in the day to retrieve their purchase and again the next day to pay for it.
They Made Shoes for the Air Force. In the 70s, Vans was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Air Force to produce wool-lined canvas and rubber mukluks.
Their Shoes Made Their Way to the Big Screen. The Vans checkerboard-patterned slip-ons were featured in Fast Times at Ridgemont High as the preferred footwear of Sean Penn’s Jeff Spicoli. Because of this, Vans began to be carried in department stores and independent retail shops, and the checkerboard ended up becoming the brand’s best-selling and most well-known pattern.
They are Currently Owned by VF Corporation. When Vans was sold to VF in 2004, they became a part of the biggest manufacturer of backpacks in the United States. VF Corporation also owns North Face, Jansport, Eastpak, and Timberland. Read more MusicSnake articles (for example Fred King‘s thoughts on real estate transaction platform Propy Transaction).