Whether it’s a Vans Authentic, Old Skool or Era, and whether you’re a skater, office worker or celebrity chances are you’ve owned a Vans shoe at least once in your life.

Started by Paul Van Doren, James Van Doren, and partners Gordon Lee and Serge Delia in 1966, the Van Doren Rubber Company manufactured and sold their shoes directly to the public.

Thanks to the surge in popularity of the shoe with skaters Vans became a streetwear essential, and the brand is still creating statement sneaks that we wouldn’t be without in 2019.

1966 vans authentic

The Vans Authentic is Born

The Vans journey started from one single shop unit on street 704E. Broadway, in Anaheim, California, on March 16th, 1966. On that first morning, 12 customers purchased shoes which were made that very day, ready for pick-up in the afternoon. The Vans #44 deck shoe, which is now known as the Vans Authentic was priced between $2.29 and $4.29- a streetwear bargain.

1976 vans era

Start Of An Era

As the popularity of the Vans #44 deck shoe grew, skateboarders were spotted sporting the sneak thanks to its rugged appearance and sticky sole. Southern California became the hub for Vans shoes and the sneak soon caught the eye of boarders Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta, two of the original members of the Z-Boys, who would soon design one of the most iconic Vans shoes of all time.

Tony and Stacy together designed the Vans #95, now known as the Era. With a padded collar for comfort and a variety of different colourways, the Era became the shoe of choice for a whole generation of skateboarders. 

1977 vans old skool

Doodle to Old Skool

Most of us doodle when we’re sat at our desks right? Well, what was once a random doodle by Paul Van Doren soon became the most iconic Vans shoe of all time- the Old Skool. Then called Style 36, the now-iconic shoe worn by streetwear lovers, sports enthusiasts and celebrities alike was the first to feature the classic Vans side stripe and was their first skate shoe that incorporated leather panels.

1977 slip on

The Vans Slip-On

The introduction of the #44 shoe, also known today as the slip-on, in 1979, was the final piece of Vans’ success in the 70s. With the help of skateboarders and BMX riders, the Slip-On became the must-have shoe in Southern California. By the end of the 70s, Vans had 70 stores in California and had begun to sell national and internationally through dealers. Vans Slip-Ons gained international attention and appeal when they were worn by Sean Penn in 1982's iconic youth film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” 

vans sk8 hi 1978

Take It Higher

The now-iconic Vans side stripe was marked onto another innovative silhouette in 1978. Style 38, now known as the Sk8-Hi, took the functionality of a Vans shoe for skaters to the next level, this sneak went above the ankle, which shielded bones from skateboards and gave the sneak a new fresh look.

vans customs 2005

Customise Your Vans

Vans launch Vans Customs, allowing would-be fashion designers to create their own Classic Slip-ons utilising hundreds of different colour and pattern combinations. Customers could design their own Old Skools online and have them delivered directly to their door.

vans wafflecup 2012

Comfort and Style

2012 saw Vans branch out into new technology including UltraCush Lite technology which was a custom blend of foams to enhance cushioning and WAFFLECUP the first-ever vulcanized cupsole, meant to increase the sneakers’ support and durability while simultaneously offering better feel on boards.

vans comfy cush 2019

The ComfyCush Era

In a continuous bid to improve the level of comfort inside a Vans shoe, the brand introduced its latest technology ComfyCush. Vans ComfyCush features an interior constructed from just one piece. The inconvenience of a tongue that just won’t stay in place was removed and ComfyCush foam lined the sole along with an added arch support for comfort.

As for 2020 all we can guarantee is that Vans will still be one of our most-loved sneaks and the shoe that we turn to when we need something that will go with everything.

Looking for a fresh new pair of Vans? Shop our full collection to discover the style that suits you.