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As many companies are Vans was birthed from a dream of one of its founders Paul Van Doren. He had learned how to make sneakers in a factory on the East Coast. His dream seemed fairly simple--to manufacture shoes that could be sold directly to the public.
Paul decided to move west to Southern California along with his partners Jim Van Doren Gordy Lee and Serge D'Elia. All of them had experience in the shoe manufacturing business but none of them knew anything about retail.
The first Vans shoe store opened at 704 East Broadway in Anaheim California on March 15 1966.
The first Vans shoes had a diamond pattern in the sole but they discovered that it would crack along the ball of the outsole. Vertical lines were then added to the ball area to make it stronger a design which is now Vans' proprietary waffle sole.
In 1976 skateboarders began wearing Vans shoes. On March 19 1976 Vans came out with the first Vans Era in red/blue designed by pro skaters Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta. Over the next few years many different color combinations were introduced into the Vans line. The Slip-on was added in 1979 in a multitude of color combinations and it quickly became the craze of Southern California.
That craze spread across the nation when Jeff Spicoli a California surfer dude in the hit movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" wore a pair of Vans checkerboard slip-ons.
The Vans footwear collection now features over 60 styles ranging from classic deck shoes and slip-ons to high performance skateboard shoes snowboard boots and sandals.