— Internet News

Vans co-founder Paul Van Doren dies at 90

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Paul Van Doren, co-founder of the Vans company whose iconic Southern California sneakers were beloved by skateboarders and became an international success, has died. He was 90. Based southeast of Los Angeles in Costa Mesa, the company announced Van Doren’s death on social media Friday but didn’t provide any details. “Paul was not just an entrepreneur; he was an innovator,” the company said. “Paul’s bold experiments in product design, distribution, and marketing, along with his knack for numbers and efficiency, turned a family shoe business into a globally recognized brand.”

Van Doren was a high school dropout who moved from the Boston area to Southern California. Van Doren, his brother James (who died in 2011), and business partners Gordon Lee and Serge Delia opened the Van Doren Rubber Co. in Orange County in 1966, making and selling their shoes. At first, they struggled to produce enough of the product to fill the shoeboxes on store shelves.

Van Doren had two decades of experience in shoe manufacturing but none in retail, he recalled.

“The first person gave me a $5 bill; a pair of shoes was $2.49,” he told Los Angeles Magazine last month after releasing his memoir, “Authentic.” “But I didn’t have any money in the cash register, so I gave her the shoes,” Van Doren said. “We ended up selling 16 or 18 pairs of shoes that day. You know what? I said, ‘Come back later to pay.’ Every one of those people came back and paid.”

Paul Van Doren

Van Doren’s son, Steve Van Doren, said his father’s understanding helped him succeed.

“My dad was a systems guy,” Steve Van Doren told the Los Angeles Times in 2009. “He did things like color-coding the boxes, blue for men, green for women, and orange for boys, so you could see what inventory you had right away. He would only open stores with a free right-hand exterior wall because he thought that was the best place to catch someone’s eye if they were driving by.” Van Doren also allowed people to order customized shoes. He expanded the customer base by allowing various designs to be sold everywhere, from surf shops to department stores.bright pinks and yellows, or if it happens to be dinosaurs or a skull and crossbones, listen to their two cents’ worth about colors and designs,” he said.

The shoes, with their canvas tops and rigid, diamond-patterned rubber soles, caught the fancy of skateboarders. The company, which kept a sharp eye on trends, was quick to catch on.

“Everybody else was kicking these kids out of the park, kicking them out of pools. And here’s a company listening to them, backing them, and making shoes for them,” Van Doren told Los Angeles Magazine.

The company paid professional skateboard Stacy Peralta to wear its shoes. Vans also sold shoes individually, which benefited skateboarders who tended to wear out one at a time.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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