Vans Authentic History : Born and raised in California

Regardless of fashion and sports there are shoes that were originally made to simply dress people’s feets. With time these shoes have become the symbol of a whole generation of youngsters seeking new ways to express their freedom and lifestyle throughout a new california-based sport : skateboard. Here is a short story of the Vans Authentic that is intimately mingled with the brand itself : Vans.

Back in the days, young Paul Van Doren decided against his parent’s will to quit school to dedicate his time to horse racing, his biggest passion. Facing diffulties to maintain a good relationship with his parents that summoned him to find a real job, he eventually ended up working for Randy’s, a footwear manufacturer based in Boston. After working 20 years for this company which Paul Van Doren finally became vice president, in 1966 he decided to quit so he could create his own company.

On march 16th of the same year, James Van Doren with his brother Paul set up a factory and opened a small shop at 704 E.Broadway in Anahein, southern California. Later, a private investor Serge d’Elia based in Japan joinded the team with Gordy Lee a business man from the footwear industry. Initially the idea was to make shoes in small quantities and sell them directly to the people to save up their margins.

Van Doren Rubber Company started producing only 3 models including the famous Authentic shoes, averaging the prices of $2.99 and 4.99$. Also there were only these 3 pairs of shoes in the store exposed on a pile of empty boxes. Le legend says, the first opening day, 12 customers came in the store to buy shoes. The rumor says the Van Dorens asked them all to come back later in the afternoon while the brothers rushed to the factory to produce the shoes. According to them, the 12 customers came back but Van Doren and Lee were in short of change…Unfortunately they had no choice but to ask them to come back again the day after and…And so they did!

Strengthening the relationship the company had with their customers, the following years became increasingly  profitable and Van Doren Rubber started to open many more stores in the country. Although the company’s name remained unchanged, a communauty of die-hard fans started to rename the shoes: Van’s. Yet, at this point the shoes sole made in gum showed quickly signs of defects, as a consequence the company developped a new gum that was more solid and reliable. The “Waffle” sole saw the day.

In the early 70’s, a new kind of Vans buyers began to grow up in the region among which most of them were skateboarders. They liked the Vans shoes because they perfectly fitted their skateboards. In these years the skateboard hysteria significantly helped the brand Van Doren Rubber to grow and expand nationwide. As the brand image was now attached to the skateboard mouvement, Van Doren wished to include skateboarders into the developping process of its shoes.

Today Vans shoes have become real icons of the urban and skateboarding culture. More than a shoe, it also carries skateboarding valutes such as coolness, liberty and going beyond your own limits. With a very simple, minimalistic design, and many available colorways, the Authentic has become a must-have in mens fashion from now on. I personally try to have a pair at hand permanently : sober, comfortable and matches everything!

PS: Vans authentic are largely shown “Lords of Dogtown” a movie about the orgins of skateboarding produced by Vans.

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