It was 1966 and the world of skateboarding was about to get a major boost. This was because on a sunny spring day in Anaheim, California the Van Doren brothers (Paul and James) along with partners Serge D"Elia and Gorden Lee were about to open up their first store. This shop would sell "deck shoes" made by their "Van Doren Rubber Company".
Though deck shoes are meant to be worn in many environments, particularly marine settings, the shoes sold that day were particularly appealing to skateboarders. What makes this particular story so entertaining is that all of the shoes sold on that first day in business had to be hurriedly manufactured at the firm"s small factory once the clients had put in their orders.
The firm was so small that it did not have the cash available for a large run of shoes to be sold through the shop. Instead, each was made after it was purchased. From the first twelve pairs of deck shoes sold that day, Vans has grown into a massive shoe and athletic wear company.
As the "60s turned into the "70s, the skateboarding culture of California grew and expanded around the world. The Vans shoes were appealing to these athletes because they had sticky soles and were designed with a durable construction style. Within ten years of starting the firm, the owners had even partnered with a professional skateboarder to begin creating more comfortable and stylish looks for their audience.
This soon attracted the attention of other kinds of sporting enthusiasts, and Vans was to become the preferred style of shoe for BMX bikers too.
As the 1980s began, Vans" durability and quality even garnered the company a contract with the US Air Force and the Dept. of Defense. These groups ordered a style of slide on shoe known as mukluks, and which Vans produced from canvas, rubber, and wool.
In addition to skateboarders and BMX bikers, the company"s footwear soon began to appear on motocross riders, surfers, and other athletic types. They became an iconic style for those who enjoyed the beach and skateboarding lifestyle.
Vans remains an iconic style today, and the firm is so closely affiliated with these sports that it sponsors festivals, built indoor and outdoor skate parks, and operates a skateboarding team. The firm has also sponsored the incredibly popular musical tour known as the "Warped Tour" that has taken place for more than fifteen years.
The company was acquired by the VF Corporation, which is the umbrella for a long list of top brands in outdoor, garment, and athletic wear. The product lineup is available from brick and mortar establishments as well as through online vendors.
Men"s clothing and shoes
Women"s clothing and shoes
Kids clothing and shoes
Classic products from the Vans line
The California Collection
The LXVI Collection
The sports that Vans produces specialty garments and shoes for include skateboarding, surfing, snow sports, and BMX biking.
The company is still overseen by several of the Van Doren family members, though it is a subsidiary operation of the VF Corporation.
The mission of producing durable and effective products remains a major emphasis, but like other smaller businesses, the company also has large sustainability initiatives.
Currently, the firm operates its Vans Sole initiative aimed at enhancing the communities in which the company operates. The Green Sole Operations are also part of their sustainability effort and these consider energy and waste generated by the company"s production and distribution sites. They also have their Green Sole Product initiative that focuses in on wise resource use and eco-friendly production processes.
Vans also sponsors a lot of cultural enterprises that include art competitions, unique charitable giving efforts, community service programs, and more.
What began as a small business that emphasized one high quality product has now become a global phenomenon and cultural icon. However, this has not allowed the company"s founders and operators to forget their connection to the community. Vans has persistently maintained strong connections to the sporting worlds from which it has grown its business. This is why their products still reflect the interests and culture upon which their business was built.
Vans. Sustainability. Vans.com. 2014. http://www.vans.com/sustainability.html