The American company Vans is a world-renowned manufacturer of clothing and footwear designed for connoisseurs of active lifestyles. Its most famous products are sneakers with a light upper and a thick sole, highly popular among skateboarders.
The story of the Vans brand is a classic example of the American dream, when a boy from a poor family shows unique business skills, and then founds his own brand, which eventually becomes extremely popular.
It all started in 1944 when 14-year-old Paul Van Doren decided he no longer wanted to go to school. He had a passion for horses and spent hours at the stadium, where he earned the nickname "Dutch the Clutch" - the boy could always provide information (not for free, of course) which was very useful for those who wanted to win. No one knows how long this would have lasted if Paul's mother hadn't intervened and insisted that her son go to work at Randy's shoe factory.
Paul liked the work, he quickly moved up the career ladder and by the age of 34 he was already an executive vice president. By then Randy's was already one of the top 3 largest shoe manufacturers in the US. In the early '60s Paul was appointed to Garden Grove, California. The factory there was making nothing but huge losses, it had to be fixed. Paul quickly and brilliantly handled the difficult assignment. That's when he had the idea to use his talents to start his own business.
On March 16, 1966, The Van Doren Rubber Company set up store in Anaheim, California. In addition to Paul himself, its founders also included his brother James and friend Gordon Lee. The company's production facilities were located in the same building as the store. At first, to avoid unnecessary costs, the founders of the company had to go for a small trick - in the store were presented only with product samples. All details were negotiated with the buyer and he could take the finished shoes the next day. History has preserved information that on the first day 17 people came into the store and 12 pairs of shoes were sold. The very first product of the company was shoes with a canvas upper on a thick sole with a characteristic waffle pattern. It was these models that would later become Vans' trademark.
For some time the company was just slowly developing, there were no jumps in its history. But everything changed in the seventies, when skateboarding became fashionable. In 1974, Vans Style #44 (modern name Vans Authentic) became extremely popular among fans of the sport. The company's products gradually began to acquire iconic status.
In 1976, the company introduced a new model - Vans #95, also known today as Vans Era. In its creation such famous professional skateboarders as Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta took part. Naturally this could not but attract the closest attention to the model, it quickly becomes megapopular. That's when the Vans Off The Wall logo appears.
The Vans #36, also known as the Vans Old Skool, was another legend in 1977. It featured a side stripe called Vans Sidestripe or Jazz Stripe. Sometimes it is also called the "waterline". The legend says that the idea to paint such a line appeared to Paul by accident. Today it's the hallmark of all Vans footwear.
The Vans #38, or Vans Sk8-Hi, was born in 1978 and was also designed specifically for skateboarders, with a tall silhouette that better protected your legs. Vans found its niche, which it continues to occupy to this day. Moreover, when in the early '80s the company began experimenting with expanding its range, introducing shoes for other sports, everything ended very sadly for her. Vans running and basketball sneakers could not compete with Puma and Nike. In addition, the company faced competition from low-cost shoe manufacturers who flooded the market with products that were very similar to Vans' creations, but more affordable. In 1984 it was declared bankruptcy.
But Paul did not give up so easily. In two years he managed to pay off his debts and actually revived the company. It is said that the fall of Vans was the fault of his brother James, who insisted on expanding the range of shoes produced. But as it was, the company wasn't on its own for long - in 1988, Paul sold it to the private equity firm McCown De Leeuw & Co., Inc. The transaction amounted to $74 million.
The new owners continued to work in the familiar direction of skateboarding, reintroducing time-honored models. Vans became an active sponsor of the Wraped Tour, a touring music festival dedicated to extreme sports. As a result the festival is sometimes even called the Vans Warped Tour. The brand's position gradually improved.
But the real revival of Vans began in 2004, after the company was bought by the clothing manufacturer VF Corporation, which now owns such famous brands like Wrangler, Lee, Timberland and others. Under the new management Vans expanded the range of products, not just footwear. Production of goods for children began. The brand also began to actively cooperate with famous music bands, releasing limited edition shoes, decorated in the style of Metallica, Motorhead, Pearl Jam, Kiss albums... Various famous designers are also involved in the creation of new models.
At one time Paul Van Doren was reluctant to expand the company. They say that he was even thinking of limiting himself to California. Today you can buy Vans shoes almost everywhere. This is one of the most famous and recognizable brands. People of all ages and social groups are buying Vans products, which became a classic. But the company itself became inseparable from the world of skateboarding.