Designed for the whole family in the mid-60s, then very quickly adopted by skateboarders, the Vans Authentic has become an all-purpose sneaker that you slip on in the summer without thinking. Back to the origin of Vans.
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Origin of Vans
On Wednesday, March 16, 1966, Paul and Jim Van Doren barely exhibited the prototype of the #44, future Authentic, in the window that a first customer, then two, then soon a dozen, pushes for the first time the door of their shop at 704 E Broadway, in Anaheim, in the southern suburbs of Los Angeles. Attracted that morning by the promise of affording these tenacious tennis shoes at low prices (from 2 to 5 dollars), everyone leaves… empty-handed. They will pick up their pair in the afternoon, once it has been made.
This is the innovative principle of the Van Doren Rubber Company, founded by these two brothers from Boston: produce to order and on site, in the small factory which adjoins the 40 m2 of the shop. And direct selling this sturdy canvas shoe resting on a vulcanized, non-slip rubber waffle sole.
Skateboarders embrace Vans
Designed for boaters to prevent them from falling overboard, school sports teams and “for the whole family”, theAuthentic is surprisingly adopted by these hordes of kids with long hair defying the bitumen on noisy skateboards: skateboarders. Invented by surfers in the late 1950s and practiced while waiting for the swell, skateboarding is a marginal pastime ignored by the sports industry.
THE riders then set their sights on this Authentic with unsuspected virtues: its flexible and robust upper resists tricks and bowls, and the grip of its sole offers miraculous grip. “From the moment skateboarders and surfers wore our shoes in the early 70s, Vans found a style and, above all, a purpose: to always support skateboarders as they did to our beginnings”, says Steve Van Doren, son and successor of Paul. The brand and the discipline will be one, forever.
Bankruptcy and rebirth
Having become the fetish pump of the Z‑Boys – of the Zephyr Competition Team –, this crew of Venice whose leaders Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta will be the first Vans muses (for 300 dollars per month), theAuthentic swept along with skateboarding in LA in the summer of 1975. Drought forced swimming pool owners in Southern California to empty these curved pools which became the clandestine playground of skateboarders.
A year later, Vans and the Alva-Peralta duo gave her a little sister, the #95 a.k.a. L’era, recognizable by its padded ankle collar and its red and/or blue colors, soon inseparable from everything that rolls (BMX, rollerblading).
Alas, this sneaker suddenly disappeared from the radar with the bankruptcy of Vans in 1983. But the history of Vans did not write its end point. It will take twenty years to once again become the outward sign of belonging to the religion of cool, at the feet of rockers, big teenagers and Hollywood stars (Justin Bieber, Zac Efron, Harry Styles…).
At nearly 60 years old, this unbreakable totem of skate culture is today a classic in summer dressing worn brand new to a wedding or at the end of its life on the beach. Before renewing them with your eyes closed…
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