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Tribute to Paul Van Doren

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Tribute to Paul Van Doren

Not Just A Founder But A True Innovator

We were all saddened here to hear of the passing of Van’s Co Founder Paul Van Doren. In his 90 years Paul forged a long lasting legacy as a businessman, inventor, philanthropist and all round good guy and whilst we will mourn his loss we want to celebrate the many positive life lessons he left behind and the positive impact he had on the skate community.

Vans was founded by Paul and his brother Jim along with their business partners Gordon Lee & Serge Delia in Anaheim, CA in 1966. Famously when on their first day in business they forgot to bring change for their cash till so ended up allowing customers to pay at a later date and everyone came back and paid. Wanting to create an affordable high quality shoe led to a number of innovations that helped shape and direct the company including the waffle outsole vulcanised onto the upper which made the rubber both durable and attracted skateboarders early on who adopted vans for the additional traction.

Vans waffle sole

At a time when many parks, authorities and businesses wanted nothing to do with Skateboarders, Vans openly listened and supported them. This led to vans selling their shoes individually, understanding that skateboarders would often wear one shoe quicker than the other and also lead to them making custom coloured vans, something that has continued and expanded to this day.

Vans also sponsored legendary skaters Stacy Peralta and Tony Alva who helped coin the phrase “off the wall” as Tony Alva was describing pool skating and going higher than the pools edge which Skip Engblom, founder of the Zephyr Competition Team remarked “Man, you just went off the wall!. The phrase went on to become the signifier of which Vans were skate specific.

Paul Van Doren and The Van Doren Rubber Company built a loyalty with the skate community that’s influence has helped shape skateboarding and is felt throughout all action sports, so we say thank you Paul for everything.

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