Test Post

In 1966, brothers Paul and Jim Van Doren opened the first Vans store in Anaheim, California. The only shoe on display was a made-to-order deck shoe, now known as the Authentic. The style was quickly adopted by skateboarders who loved the sneaker’s rugged silhouette and grippy sole, and it spread like wildfire around Southern California and beyond.

Vans has been connecting with creatives for nearly 55 years.

Pioneered by creatives and embraced by the masses, the viral-like nature of the brand has transcended generations “As a brand, we have continued to embrace Paul Van Doren’s ethos of not just being a shoe company, but a people company,” offers Rian Pozzebon, Vans head of footwear design. “The focus of the brand wasn’t to surround itself with the best, the elite, the champions, but to embrace, respect, and pull in the people looking for a home.” Indeed, Vans has an ability to connect with the everyman unlike any other brand. Here’s a look back at some of its greatest hits.

Old Skool Kicks

In 1976, the Era sneaker made its debut in an array of color combinations. The following year, Vans released the now ubiquitous Old Skool sneaker. It was decorated with a wavy line Paul Van Doren called the “jazz stripe,” now the unmistakable symbol of Vans. Leather panels offered increased durability that further entrenched the brand with the skater community. Later in 1977, Vans released the Classic Slip-Ons, and the Sk8-Hi dropped in 1978.

The Old Skool sneaker wears the instantly recognizable Vans sidestripe.

In 1976, the Era sneaker made its debut in an array of color combinations. The following year, Vans released the now ubiquitous Old Skool sneaker. It was decorated with a wavy line Paul Van Doren called the “jazz stripe,” now the unmistakable symbol of Vans. Leather panels offered increased durability that further entrenched the brand with the skater community. Later in 1977, Vans released the Classic Slip-Ons, and the Sk8-Hi dropped in 1978.

Off The Wall: Checkerboard Slip Ons

The classic slip-on silhouette may have been a favorite for California skaters since the ’70s, but it reached peak fame when Spicoli banged the style against his head in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The 1982 movie helped propel the brand into international appeal, and the moment is so memorable that Vans is releasing a Fast Times sneaker due to drop this month.

Sean Penn brings the classic checkerboard Slip-Ons to new fame in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Source

Customs and Collabs

In 2004, the brand launched Vans Customs allowing designers and wannabes alike to create their own Classic Slip-On and, soon after, Old Skool sneakers. Along the way it released highly anticipated collabs with cultural icons like The Simpsons, the Beatles, and Star Wars, as well as leading creatives spanning from Marc Jacobs and Kenzo to Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami.

Vans shoes on display in a London shoe shop.

“Vans continues to give people the option to customize product through platforms like Vans Customs and supports environments where people can create and experience our four brand pillars of art, action sports, music, and street culture,” Pozzebon notes. “We also partner and collaborate with like-minded brands and individuals that value our same commitment of enabling creative expression.”

Back in the day, that creative expression ranged from doodles on the soles to skaters shortening the shaft of the Sk8-Hi by cutting the ankle and securing it with duct tape. While we’re still doodling and customizing today, new outlets have also emerged—looking at you, TikTok Vans Challenge. Whatever comes next, we’re already here for it.

To shop more, check out the full Vans collection here.