Vans was founded on March 16 1966 at 704 East Broadway, Anaheim, California, USA. This is when the Van Doren Rubber Company opened its first shop to sell shoes directly to the public. That first morning they served 12 customers, who had to order their chosen style, size and colour to collect later in the afternoon because the company had so far only managed to make a few display models. Vans quickly became popular with the skateboarders of Southern California because of the rubber sole’s sticky grip, but it wasn’t until they released the ‘Era’ (then called the ‘#95’) that Vans really became the iconic shoe for that generation of skaters.
The company has been through some ups and downs since then, facing bankruptcy and takeovers as well as huge commercial booms, but there are still Van Dorens involved today. Much of their business continues to revolve around variations on those early designs; the ‘Authentic’, the ‘Era’ and the ‘Classic Slip On’. They don’t really produce anything too technical, instead focusing on producing the sort of footwear, clothing and accessories that allow them maintain their place within the skate / surf / BMX culture. Rather than rely on research, innovation and technology to stay ahead of the field, Vans work with designers, artists and figures from pop culture to help keep their stuff looking fresh and eye-catching. They also often collaborate with other brands to produce one-off or collectable ranges.
Vans also sponsors plenty of pro BMX riders and skateboarders and fund large public skate parks, as well as major events such as the US Open of Surfing and the Warped Tour.