Vans: 15 Facts You Definitely Didn’t Know (Part 1)

Mel Marcelo
Mel Marcelo

Vans has been an iconic brand in the sneaker industry for more than 50 years. Launching in 1966, the brand started humbly with only a few designs in a few colors. Eventually, Vans found its footing within the skating community, beginning to work with professionals within the sport and sponsoring numerous music and skating events. Read on to learn more about the iconic brand, and be on the lookout for part two, coming soon.

Number Fifteen: Vans Owns an Indoor Skate Park / Venue in Brooklyn, New York

The “House of Vans” opened in 2011 and features an indoor skate park with enough room left over for a couple of music stages. In fact, this is one of the appealing things about the venue, since they hold combination concert/skate events there. Every summer since 2011, they have put on a series of free-with-RSVP summer concerts, dubbed the Vans House Parties, with both new and known punk bands.

Number Fourteen: They Also Own a Venue in London

The London “House of Vans” was established in 2014 in an old, unused, underground subway tunnel. House of Vans London also has a skate park and holds events four days a week and sometimes on weekends.

Number Thirteen: They Were First Known as the Van Doren Rubber Company

Vans was started by brothers Paul and James Van Doren, Gordon Lee and Serge D’Elia as the ‘Van Doren Rubber Company.’ After James Van Doren was given control of the company’s direction in 1976, the shoes’ popularity continued to grow until cheaper knock-off brands started to come onto the market. This prompted James Van Doren and the company to declare bankruptcy. Once Paul Van Doren took over, he cleared their debut in 1986. Tired of overseeing the company’s day-to-day needs, he sold it to McCown De Leeuw & Co in 1988, and the name changed to Vans, Inc.

Number Twelve: There Were Only A Few Original Styles

The first three styles of shoe the company produced were the two eyelets, the slip-on and the lace up, which came in a number of colors. These were all referred to by number in the store rather than by name. The store also had a leather boat shoe, a leather deck shoe, and a canvas boat shoe. Prices per pair ranged from $2.29 to $4.49.

Number Eleven: Their First Day Was a Bit Disorganized

When they opened their first retail store in 1966, the company had only made display models to show off the shoes, but no inventory. The twelve people who purchased shoes had to come back later in the day to retrieve their purchase and again the next day to pay for it.

Number Ten: They Opened 10 Stores in 10 Weeks

After the first store, the brand expanded rapidly. There was a period where Paul Van Doren opened a store a week and over a year-and-a-half, there were more than 50 stores.

Number Nine: Their Shoes Made Their Way to the Big Screen

The Vans checkerboard-patterned slip-ons were featured in Fast Times at Ridgemont High as the preferred footwear of Sean Penn’s Jeff Spicoli. Because of this, Vans began to be carried in department stores and independent retail shops, and the checkerboard ended up becoming the brand’s best-selling and most well-known pattern. Check back soon for part two of our list of 15 interesting facts about Vans.

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