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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Vans Founder Paul Van Doren Dies

Paul Van Doren, cofounder of Vans Inc., has died. He was 90.

His passing follows the release of his memoir “Authentic,” last week.

Van Doren started Vans in 1966 with his brother Jim Van Doren, along with business partners Gordon Lee and Serge Delia. The company was originally called The Van Doren Rubber Co.

The company began selling shoes out of its Anaheim warehouse, building a following among surfers and skaters partial to the company’s waffle-sole shoes – a feature now synonymous with the brand.

The company steadily grew with a store footprint around 70 by the late 1970s.

The business was sold for $396 million to current owner VF Corp. in 2004, with Vans today sitting as one of the veterans of the action sports industry bridging not only the worlds of the core skate consumer but also the worlds of fashion, music and art.

“Paul was not just an entrepreneur; he was an innovator,” the company said in a statement. “The Van Doren Rubber Co. was the culmination of a lifetime of experimentation and hard work in the shoe industry. Like Paul, from the first day of business, Vans was uniquely innovative. When the first Vans store opened, there were no stand-alone retail stores just for sneakers. Paul’s bold experiments in product design, distribution and marketing, along with his knack for numbers, and a genius for efficiency turned Paul’s family shoe business into an all-American success story. Discovered in the late ‘60s by surfers, then skateboarders, and made famous in the film ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High,’ Vans is now a globally recognized brand, synonymous the world over with the creative spirit of Southern California. Not a bad legacy for a blue-collar kid who didn’t finish high school.

“We send our love and strength to the Van Doren family and the countless Vans family members who have brought Paul’s legacy to life.

“Thank you for everything, Paul. You will be sorely missed.”

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