Even though Vans has always been thought of as a new brand of shoes and has been popular with the youngsters, few of them realise that the brand was actually started almost half a century ago in the swinging sixties and that many of their baby boomer parents were also huge fans of the Vans brand.
The company was started by Paul Van Doren who gave his name to the company along with three other partners. The Van Doren shoes company opened its first retail store in Anaheim California and it instantly distinguished itself from most of its competitors by manufacturing shoes itself and selling them directly to people without any middle men. Another thing that separated the Vans brand from other competitors and that was probably a reason for the instant success was that Vans shoes were targeted to the surfing, skating and skate boarding communities. All these sports and leisure activities saw the most interest in them ever in the Mid sixties and there was an explosion of young people who wanted to try their hand at these leisure activities.
Vans as one of the few companies that was making shoes that were specifically targeted at people who wanted to do these kinds of activities saw instant success and its thick soled shoes became instantly recognizable and adored by the surfboarding and skating crowd. So popular was the company in fact and its iconic shoes that for a while any thick soled shoes were called Vans by the general public.
Vans also introduced a new style of slip on shoe that was also an instant hit with the BMX bicycle riding crowd and later became a huge fashion statement even amongst the non cycling crowd in southern California. The company saw huge success during this time and by the end of the seventies the company had over seventy stores in California selling Vans shoes to people directly.
The eighties were not so kind to the company and though they went bankrupt in 1983, they turned the company around and within three years had come back into the black and were stronger than ever. They also started supporting musicians with Vans music compilations that further endeared them to the young people who bought their shoes.