#CCIndex is a compendium providing the need-to-knows of the movers and shakers of street culture, regionally and internationally.
Vans has been designing and creating shoes for those who dare and those that do; skaters, artists, punks and businessmen. For a good part of five decades, they’ve been the glue between people from all walks of life, spanning generations. An eternally cool, easily attainable commodity.
Brothers Paul Van Doren and Jim Van Doren along with partners Gordon Lee and Serge Delia opened for business at 704 E. Broadway in Anaheim, Calif. on March 16, 1996. The Van Doren Rubber Company – which housed the factory, atelier and storefront – sold twelve pairs of the Authentics (or #44 Deck Shoes as they were once named) on their first day. You could’ve placed an order in the morning and picked up your shoes in the evening.
When the skating movement picked up steam in the early ’70s after the psychedelic dying embers of the hippie movement in the latter half of the previous decade, skateboarding pioneers Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta started hanging around Vans stores.
The allure of the rubber waffle soles that affixed them on the boards while still allowing for the celerity required to pull of the moves they were developing. They later came together to design the Van #95, now known as the Era, with a padded collar and different colour combinations, tweaks that cemented the model as a skateboarding necessity across the country.
Three more classics were added to their roster in the following decade: the Old Skool, Classic Slip-Ons and the Sk8-Hi. But it was only in 1982, when a certain Sean Penn starred in the cult classic movie, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, did Vans really captivate the masses. He rocked a pair of the now-iconic checkboard Old-Skool slip-ons, pictured in billboards across the country. The pattern fitted seamlessly with the iconography of the movie and its peripherals.
Just like movie magic, the company went from being a $20 million company to a $45 million juggernaut almost overnight.
Just like a classic case of growing too quickly, they went through some rocky financial times in the ’80s, when it over-diversified its styles to cater to other sports. However tumultuous, they reverted back to and has since, walked the line between iconic and progressive, never alienating the rugged skating core that made them.Such is the culture of fast-fashion, fixated on the latest, the newest, is what gives Vans the substance that runs through the proverbial veins of the company, encapsulating the spirit of counter-culture.