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FormerlyThe Van Doren Rubber Company
FoundedMarch 16, 1966; 57 years ago (1966-03-16) in Anaheim, California
  • Paul Van Doren
  • James Van Doren
  • Gordon Lee[1]
HeadquartersCosta Mesa, California, U.S.
Area served
ParentVF Outdoor
Footnotes / references

Vans is an American manufacturer of skateboarding shoes and related apparel, established in Anaheim, California, and owned by VF Corporation. The company also sponsors surf, snowboarding, BMX, and motocross teams.[3] From 1996 to 2019, the company was the primary sponsor of the annual Warped Tour music festival.


Paul Van Doren; his brother, James; and Gordon C. Lee opened the first Vans store as "The Van Doren Rubber Company" on March 16, 1966, at 704 East Broadway in Anaheim, California.[4] The business manufactured shoes and sold them directly to the public. Upon opening, twelve customers purchased Vans deck shoes (now called "Authentic"), similar to those manufactured by Keds but with a thicker sole. The store had display models of three styles of shoes, priced between US$2.49 and US$4.99, but did not have any inventory ready to sell and Paul Van Doren did not have change to give customers; customers took their shoes home and came back the next day to pay.[5]

The original Vans skateboard logo was designed in Costa Mesa, California, in the 1970s by Mark Van Doren, son of then-President and co-owner James Van Doren, at age 13; Mark's design was a stencil, allowing the logo to be spray-painted onto his skateboards. The design was incorporated into the heel tab on Style 95, an early Vans skateboard shoe. Mark's interest in skateboarding is what led Vans to manufacture skateboarding shoes.[6]

In 1976, Vans began using its "Off The Wall" motto, a slang phrase used by skateboarders while doing tricks in empty pools. Around this time, Vans released its Vans Side-stripe and Vans #36, also known as the "Old Skool" design.[6][7]

In 1984, facing heavy competition and a market flooded with Vans counterfeits, Vans lowered its prices and eventually filed for bankruptcy protection.[6] In 1988, Van Doren and Lee sold the company to banking firm McCown De Leeuw & Co. for US$74.4 million. In 1989, many Vans counterfeiters were apprehended by the U.S. and Mexican governments and ordered to cease production.[5]

By 1991, the company's shoes were highly desired due to high demand and low supply. The company expanded internationally; released new models, including snowboard shoes; and was renamed Vans, Inc. to reflect its customers calling the shoes "Vans" for short. The same year, Vans went public at US$14 per share on NASDAQ.[6] In 2004, Vans merged with North Carolina-based VF Corporation.[8] In 2016, in celebration of its 50th anniversary, Vans released a new logo and launched a campaign to target a wider audience.[7] In 2022, Vans launched the new VR3 product line where 30% of the product is renewable, recycled or regenerative. VF Corporation will expand the VR3 product collection to more footwear and apparel categories.[9]

Event sponsorship[edit]

Since 1999, Vans has sponsored and supported Warped Tour, the longest-running touring music festival to date in North America.[10] In 2001, Warped Tour was rebranded as Vans Warped Tour.[11]

Vans became the title sponsor of the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California, in 2014,[12] and in 2010, the company sponsored the Duct Tape Invitational.[13][14]

In 2022, to commence the US Open of Surfing period, Vans hosted the BMX Waffle Cup, a freestyle BMX invitational tournament. Their Huntington Beach skate park's course was modified by BMX riders for the tournament, and was themed after the US Open.[15]

Public skate parks[edit]

Vans shoes in use on a skateboard

Vans opened its first skate park in 1998 at The Outlets at Orange, in Orange, California. It features a 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) indoor street course, 12 feet (3.7 m) deep combo pool, area for amateurs, mini ramps, outdoor street course, and arcade. The park was updated in 2009.[16] It has remained closed since March 2020, when BMX rider Tyler Kanarr died after sustaining major injuries in the park.[17]

The company built its second skate park in Huntington Beach, California, which opened to the public in 2010. It includes a 17,500-square-foot (1,630 m2) skate bowl and a 25,000-square-foot (2,300 m2) skate plaza. The park is 42,500 square feet (3,950 m2), and Vans pays the city US$1 per year for its 20-year lease.[18][19]

There is a skate park in London, in The Old Vic Tunnels, called House of Vans.[20]

In pop culture[edit]

Vans' shoes have often been customized cosmetically by wearers, with many of their painting and drawing patterns being adopted by the company for their official models. Most notably, the checkerboard pattern, popular in ska and punk culture, was adopted after the company noticed skateboarders drawing it on their shoes.[21]

Vans reached its nationwide popularity when, in 1982, Sean Penn wore a pair of Vans checkerboard slip-ons as character Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.[6]

In 2016, the internet meme "Damn Daniel", featuring California teen Daniel Lara wearing Vans, went viral. In appreciation, the company gave Lara a lifetime supply of Vans shoes.[22]


  1. ^ "History".
  2. ^ "VF Outdoor Completes Acquisition of Eagle Creek, Inc".
  3. ^ "Home". Vans, A VF Company. August 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
  4. ^ Connelly, Laylan (March 11, 2016). "Happy 50th, Vans: How the iconic shoe brand born in Anaheim has kept on surviving". The Orange County Register. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Vans, Inc. History". Funding Universe. Funding Universe. 2012. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e Senn, Evan (January 12, 2019). "Off the Walls of Greatness: Vans, an Orange County Icon". Irvine Weekly. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  7. ^ a b Lee, Allen (August 12, 2020). "The History and Story Behind the Vans Logo". Money Inc. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  8. ^ "VF Corp To Buy Vans For $396-Million Dollars". GrindTV. April 27, 2004. Archived from the original on July 10, 2017. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  9. ^ Zwieglinska, Zofia (December 20, 2022). "Inside VF Corp's plans for The North Face, Supreme and a circular economy". Glossy. Retrieved December 21, 2022.
  10. ^ Hiatt, Brian. "Rock & Roll: Punk-Rock Circus-How the No Frills Warped Tour Grew into America's Most Successful Festival." Rolling Stone 14 July 2005: 28. Print.
  11. ^ "History".
  12. ^ Bell, Jennie (April 20, 2016). "Vans Renews US Open of Surfing Sponsorship Through 2018". Footwear News. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  13. ^ Story of the Duct Tape Invitational
  14. ^ Vans Duct Tape festival
  15. ^ Raineri, JP (August 22, 2022). "Surf, Skate, BMX fans flock to Vans U.S. Open". Valley News. Reedermedia, Inc. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  16. ^ "Vans Inc. to Build Skate Park at Mall in Orange". Los Angeles Times. May 8, 1998. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  17. ^ "Huntington Beach BMX Rider Tyler Kanarr Dies After Freak Accident At Vans Skatepark In Orange". CBS News. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  18. ^ Fletcher, Jaimee Lynn (January 28, 2012). "H.B. OKs lease for first free Vans skate park". The Orange County Register. p. Local 7.
  19. ^ Fletcher, Jaimee Lynn (March 22, 2014). "Vans to open free skatepark in H.B. Saturday". The Orange County Register. p. Local 2. Retrieved March 22, 2014.
  20. ^ "Under London: Disused Tunnel Now a Subterranean Skate Park". Webist Media. August 25, 2014. Archived from the original on August 27, 2015.
  21. ^ Baylis, Morgan (May 15, 2020). "Checkered Vans: A Brief History". StockX. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  22. ^ "'Damn Daniel' Was Back At It Again With The White Vans On 'Ellen'". BuzzFeed. Retrieved March 9, 2016.

External links[edit]