Founded by Paul Van Doren in 1966, the oldest skateboard shoe company in existence began life as The Van Doren Rubber Company.
Growing up in Boston, Van Doren left school early and joined his mother working in a shoe manufacturing company, quickly working his way up from the factory floor to Executive Vice President.With the help of his brother Jim Van Doren and good friend Gordon Lee, Paul turned around the failing branch of Randy's shoe manufactures based in California and inspired by this success took on the task of creating an entirely new shoe brand.
After partnering with his brother Jim, Gordon, investor Serge D'Elia and after a year of hard work - on March 16th 1966 the Van Doren Rubber Company was born. The company consisted of a manufacturing plant and a four hundred square foot retail shop. For one of the most renowned shoe companies in the world, to call the beginning humble is an understatement as on the shop opening day only three pairs of shoe models where available for display purposes and the shelves were stocked with empty boxes. Despite this, customers were not deterred and would place orders to collect later on. A key part of Vans early success was Van Doren favouring of selling products directly to the public rather carried in other retailers. This allowed their customers to have more say in the colours and style of their desired shoe and was a key part of the company’s early success; by 1967, The Van Doren Rubber Company company were opening a new shop nearly every week.
In the early 1970's the surf scene of Southern California gave rise to a new culture - skateboarding. Serendipity struck when Vans changed their diamond patterned sole to their now iconic, patented Waffle Sole which proved to be perfect for skateboarding and still does to this day! The almost instant adoption of Vans by skateboarders coupled with requests of new colours and patterns led the development of the Era with input from Tony Alva and Stacey Peralta. Building on the original Vans model (now known as the Authentic), the Era introduced a padded collar for extra protection and from then on Vans dedication to skateboarding has been unrivalled.
In 1979 the Slip On was introduced which has since become a favourite of skateboarders and general fans of the footwear company. While the brand’s popularity continued to naturally grow, it was the movie Fast Time at Ridgement High which was to expose Vans to a national market. The 1982 classic starred Sean Penn wearing a pair of Vans checkerboard Slip-Ons in his role as the surfer dude Jeff Spicoli. This caused sales to rocket allowing company enough funds to relocate into a 175,000-square-foot plant in Orange, California. Further building on their devotion to skateboarding in, 1998 the company opened a 46,000-square-foot indoor skateboarding park in Orange, California featuring a 20,000 square foot indoor and outdoor street course, mini ramps and the now legendary Combi pool. The success of this triggered a series of similar parks nationwide from other skateboarding footwear brands such as DC and etnies. While Vans’ first free skate park in Huntington Beach, California boasting a 17,500 square foot skate bowl and a 25,000 square foot skate plaza opened to the public in 2014.
Vans now produces a diverse range of shoes, focused a variety of subcultures including with a BMX range, caters towards fashion with their Vault collection and Vans Classics remain ever popular with the general public alongside skateboarders.
However, it is Vans Pro Skate range that is at the heart of the company. Geoff Rowley, Anthony Van Engelen, Tony Trujillo, Gilbert Crockett and Kyle Walker all proudly have signature shoes while team rider chosen colourways are frequent and well received. After five years in the making, Vans released the companies first full length video, Propeller in 2015. Directed by renowned videographer Greg Hunt (Mind Field, Alien Workshop, 2009 and The DC Video, 2003) - Propeller showcased the roots and history engrained within Vans alongside every rider that has remained with the company from it’s earliest days to present. We feel privileged to be Manchester’s only stockist of the Vans Pro Skate collection and you can browse our full range here or at our Dale Street store.