Paul Van Doren, the co-founder of the renowned sneaker brand Vans, has passed away at the age of 90. Vans announced his death and celebrated his legacy in an Instagram post, recognizing him as an innovator and visionary in the shoe industry.
Van Doren was instrumental in establishing Vans as the Van Doren Rubber Company in Anaheim, California, in 1966. His entrepreneurial spirit and pioneering contributions transformed a modest family-run shoe business into a globally recognized brand.
Having initially worked in the vulcanized rubber sneaker industry at Randy’s, Paul Van Doren relocated to California. It was there, alongside his brother Jim Van Doren and Gordon Lee, that he made the bold decision to create their footwear company in Anaheim, giving birth to the Van Doren Rubber Company. Their durable canvas boat shoes with vulcanized rubber soles swiftly gained favor, especially among skateboarders.
Vans became closely associated with skate culture, introducing its iconic «off the wall» motto in the 1970s. The brand gained significant recognition when Sean Penn’s character sported Vans checkerboard sneakers in the 1982 film «Fast Times at Ridgemont High,» leading to a remarkable surge in sales and cementing Vans as a symbol of pop culture.
In the 1980s, Paul Van Doren came out of semi-retirement to rescue the company from overambitious expansion plans. His meticulous approach to optimizing payroll and product offerings enabled Vans to emerge from financial difficulties and thrive as a debt-free enterprise.
In 1988, Van Doren sold Vans for $75 million, subsequently witnessing the company’s initial public offering in 1991. Today, Vans is a part of VF Corp, a conglomerate that encompasses esteemed brands such as The North Face and Supreme. Vans products are distributed worldwide through an extensive network of stores and retailers.
Paul Van Doren’s autobiography, «Authentic: A Memoir by the Founder of Vans,» was published shortly before his passing. Vans expressed its heartfelt condolences to the Van Doren family and the broader Vans community, underscoring Paul’s enduring legacy in the fashion and footwear industry. His visionary contributions will be deeply missed.