In all skateparks of the 70s, Vans stomped the board. From its Waffle sole to its checkerboard pattern, the most iconic elements of the sneakers par excellence of skate culture have laid the foundations for an alternative lifestyle that sounds like rock, punk and youthful rebellion.
In the mid-60s California, Paul Van Doren’s eyes lit up with a revolutionary concept. First, he joined three partners. Later, he established a unique artisan model. The group of entrepreneurs manufactured the first twelve pairs of custom Vans Authentic sneakers, implementing in each of those the characteristic Waffle sole, capable of holding on to the skateboard like no other. And that’s how they did it. Soon, Vans would be in every skater’s closet in California. In 1976, Vans launched the Era model alongside Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta. Who better than them to understand what skaters were looking for? The silhouette featured a comfortable padded lining on the collar and heel and sat on a grippy rubber base. It took only a year for the third icon to arrive. The Old Skool sported highly durable leather panels and the unmistakable overlay stripe down the side. In 1978, the Sk8-Hi made their debut, expanding the possibilities: this time, the silhouette was high cut. The organic value of the more than 50 years of Vans resides in that warm hug that the brand gave to the skate culture. And they did it at the precise moment, satisfying the demands of a group that never seemed to find the right shoe. «It’s not just skateboarding», assures Doug Palladini, president of Vans. «But skateboarding is where we come from. It is our heritage and remains the core of our brand».
If we think about the first decades of the brand’s life, images of rock and punk concerts with attendees and musicians wearing Vans assail us. The relationship between the Californian brand and music has been very close. Not only has it lived through some of the most representative music moments in the history of a multitude of genres, but it has grown alongside many of the most iconic bands at the time. Apparently, when Ian Mackaye and Henry Rollins began their first concerts, they always wore the Sk8-Hi and Old Skool, which caused many fans to imitate their idols making Vans frequent off the stage as well. When the constant streetwear collaborations started to be seen, Vans bet on music. The first collaboration of the brand with a band arose in 1998, when an exclusive and limited model was designed with motifs of the Motorhead band. In the same year, the members of Ignite requested a special footwear for their tour. Vans responded with a run of 100 pairs of versions of the classic Old Skool, but with a design inspired on the hardcore group. The subsequent years would experience new collaborations or tributes with other groups and artists such as Milecolin, Slayer, No Doubt, Bad Religion or Eminem. As if this constant profession of love for music wasn’t enough, since 1995, the Vans Warped Tour has become one of the most popular festivals in the United States and Canada. The event, which is celebrated religiously each year, fuses music and extreme sports to unite the two passions of the brand in one same summer day.