How the sneaker brand entered pop culture – footwear news


Founded in 1966, the Van Doren Rubber Company, now known as Vans, was born from humble beginnings in Anaheim, California. Brothers Paul and James Van Doren wanted to supply shoes directly to California customers without wholesaling them to retailers.

Their business on East Broadway has captivated consumers and reduced the need for a middleman by producing shoes on site for those in need. It is said that on the first day of their business, the brothers sold shoes from A to Z to 12 customers who had all their pairs ready to be picked up the same afternoon.

Find the formula

Relying on a simple construction, namely a canvas upper and waffle sole, the Van Doren brothers made waves early on by introducing the # 44 Deck Shoe, an understated silhouette that quickly caught the attention of local skateboarders. . During the 1960s and until the 1970s, the brand broadened its range of silhouettes by designing renowned models of different cuts and shapes.

At the time, Vans’ offerings were based on a numerical notation much like the early No. 44’s. By 1976, the minds of Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta had created an updated version of # 44. This pair was supported by a padded ankle collar and is now known as Era. Quickly, Vans expanded its offering with a distinctive brand, namely the Jazz Band and the Off the Wall logo.

This branding has led to both recognition and creativity, stamping on some of the most memorable skate sneakers of all time. To this day, basic styles from the early days remain in production at Vans, including Old Skool, Sk8-Hi, and Slip-On.

Californian love for global growth

During its rise, Vans was built with the support of local skateboarders and customers. The brand’s confidence in waffle soles and canvas construction catapulted the mission Van Doren bravely embarked on, providing loyal skaters with understated comfort and sticky traction. Ultimately, Van Dorens’ business not only exploded locally, it also caught the attention of fans far removed from Anaheim.

Fairly quickly, skateboarding became popular not only on the West Coast, but across the country and around the world, expanding Vans’ reach and adding new layers to their business model. Skateboarders like Steve Caballero were making the Vans their own, literally and figuratively, while the brand was also gaining momentum in similar extreme sports including BMX and snowboarding.

Vans wasn’t just pumping more models, it was moving more units as well. By the late 1970s, there were Vans stores on the California coast, and his shoes were soon stocked at retailers across the country and overseas.

Enter Pop Culture

During the 1980s and 1990s, the energy surrounding the skate scene saw Vans embraced by moviegoers and artists of the rock variety, including punk bands and metal purveyors. Famously, Vans sneakers appeared on Sean Penn’s feet in the movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, with star stoner character Jeff Spicoli sporting checkerboard slip-ons.

This cross-cultural boom made Vans viable in skate shops and malls around the world, eventually giving way to the sound explosion that was the Vans Warped Tour in 1995. For 14 years, the traveling music festival sponsored by shoe company Anaheim allowed fans access to groups like Blink-182 and The Black Eyed Peas. Even top pop groups like Katy Perry and Paramore cut their teeth by performing at the Warped Tour.

The combined decades of the 80s and 90s saw Vans facing great adversity to rise triumphantly. In 1984, the brand filed for bankruptcy despite growing popularity. By 1987, all of his creditors had been paid. Making the most of the momentum, Vans went public in 1991, offering shares of their brand on the Nasdaq stock market.

In the 1990s, Vans experienced tremendous growth but stayed true to its roots. The rise of extreme sports has seen the brand rise to prominence on ESPN, while the growth of alternative rock and pop punk has introduced the California-based company to consumers watching MTV. Vans was expanding globally, capturing the attention of Forbes and the Sundance Film Festival at the start of the new millennium.

New ideas for a new millennium

Despite outward praise from Hollywood and Wall Street, Vans remained stable on the skate track taking his team of riders around the world in 2003. The Pleased to Meet You tour featured fans across America and the world. ‘Europe both the brand and its best skaters. .

As skateboarding became even more popular in the 2000s, Vans continued to develop into new fan bases while staying true to its original philosophy. During the new millennium, the California-centric skate brand has benefited from the buy-in of hip-hop artists. The likes of Lil Wayne, Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco often wore classic models of the Vans variety, while Oakland-based outfit The Pack released a hit single based on the beloved brand. The bold color palettes of models like the Sk8-Hi appealed to a young consumer, while the affordable pricing of proven models made them easy to buy and accessorize.

The world of haute couture was starting to be captivated by Vans at the beginning and end of the years, with designers such as Marc Jacobs and Junya Watanabe remaking models. A renewed interest in Vans, not only on set, but also in casual settings, helped birth Vault by Vans, paving the way for an array of collaborators to dress California classics while allowing retailers to stockpile. these shoes in luxurious leather and smooth suede.

The growth of the global market, the online personalization space, and the surf scene all fueled Vans in the 2000s as it celebrated 40 years of excellence and opened a store in Shanghai. While Vans has remained consistent in embracing new designs and technologies, fans of all kinds have continued to flock to the archival classics he first released decades ago.

Double the lessons learned

In the 2010s, Vans continued to expand its reach into music and extreme sports. Collaborations with Tyler, the Creator’s Odd Future collective, and acclaimed rapper Lupe Fiasco have broadened the cool cachet among hip-hop fans, while album cover iterations inspired by Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer and others have kept the brand at the forefront of rock. ‘n’ roll. In a decade where artist endorsement meant more to the market than typical team sports athletes, Vans’ skate styles spoke to culture-changing creatives.

In an unpaid and genuinely authentic way, many of music’s most transcendent fashion icons, including Frank Ocean, Jared Leto, Travis Scott, Mac DeMarco, Kanye West, Kid Cudi and others, have endorsed styles ranging from Slip-On to Half Cab without Partnership. When it came to mixing music and fashion, Vans walked to the beat of their own drum in the 2010s, and fans were there for it.

The brand continued to keep the same energy when it came to hosting parties, opening the House of Vans event space in Brooklyn, NY. The famous House of Vans experience ventured to Austin, TX for the South by Southwest Music Festival, while also landing in Chicago. Live music was a catalyst for the expansion of the Vans brand, but exciting retail businesses also extended the reach of the Van Doren Rubber Company.

Decades after their Anaheim debut, the new Vans stores in Manhattan, Mexico have allowed consumers to experience the California brand in never-before-seen and archived ways, once again creating the wave and reach of the must-have skateboarding.

Amplify certified classics across all art worlds

In the mid-2010s, Vans made a splash when they collaborated with Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami for a line of co-branded slip-ons and skateboards. Adoption of Vans by the gallery world would be a major catalyst for the brand during this decade and beyond, as Vans has worked with the Van Gogh estate and the Museum of Modern Art.

Haute couture and streetwear would also fall in love with Vans again, as evidenced by the dress drops by Comme des Garçons, Supreme, Fear of God, Kenzo, WTAPs, ALYX Patta, Opening Ceremony and many more.

From the start, Vans sneakers have flourished in terms of functionality and simplicity, and are still highly regarded by skaters as a high performance brand despite its most popular models relying on a design dating back decades before. Fashion-wise, basics like Authentic, Era, Slip-On, Old Skool, and Sk8-Hi were crafted by the world’s most revered designers, and still seem to be emulated in form and feel. by fashion houses. For Vans, collaboration was the most significant form of expansion, while imitation proved to be the highest form of flattery.

In true Vans fashion, collaboration isn’t just for famous bands or design school graduates. Since its inception in 1966, Vans has allowed customers to customize their shoes. While Californian kids once chose their canvas colors in the East Broadway store, the brand has been providing a virtual shoe-making experience for nearly two decades. These days, online shoppers can create their own Vans colourways on a range of models, from the classic Slip-On to the modern EVDNT UltimateWaffle model. The options, which include cinematic graphics, user photos, and more, are seemingly endless, fun, and have wide appeal.

The 2020s and beyond

As always, it is the fundamental ability to be worn by all ages and all walks of life that gives Vans the ability to transcend cultures and time. Whether on the halfpipe or on the track, canvas kicks have served as the canvas for creatives of all iterations.

In recent years, Vans has taken inspiration from A $ AP Rocky, Karl Lagerfeld, Taka Hayashi, and Gosha Rubchinskiy, while showing love by licensing areas related to Spongebob Squarepants, Star Wars, and The Beatles. Each collection has proven the power to expand the tastes of major Vans consumers while introducing music, fashion and film lovers to the timeless models that make up the Vans archive.

You could say that the more things change, the more things stay the same for Vans. As the brand continues to advance into the 2020s and beyond, its humble beginnings in Anaheim have been passed, but their mission of serving consumers has only grown. Timeless design, true roots in skate culture and the authenticity of the artist make Vans the trusted brand for extreme sports athletes, rock royalty and collaborators from different cultures.

From brand name stores on multiple continents to dealers across the country, Vans is not only bringing the world a new pair of sneakers, but giving people an accessible way to express themselves. Always at prices that suit all walks of life while invading haute couture and gallery art territory, Vans occupies many markets but exists with a simplicity that reminds us that we all live in the same world.


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