Southern California

Founder of Vans, The Iconic Costa Mesa-Based Skate Brand, Dies at 90

The first Vans shoe store opened at 704 E. Broadway in Anaheim on March 16, 1966

Obit-Vans Founder
Vans via AP

Paul Van Doren, co-founder of Costa Mesa-based Vans, has died at the age of 90, the shoe company announced Friday.

"It is with a heavy heart that Vans announces the passing of our co- founder, Paul Van Doren. Paul was not just an entrepreneur; he was an innovator,'' a company statement read. "We send our love and strength to the Van Doren family and the countless Vans Family members who have brought Paul's legacy to life.''

The Van Doren Rubber Company, as it was initially named, was "the culmination of a lifetime of experimentation and hard work in the shoe industry,'' the statement says.

The company attributed Van Doren's experiments in product design, distribution and marketing, along with a "knack for numbers'' and efficiency, as the attributes that turned "a family shoe business into a globally recognized brand.''

Van Doren, who died Thursday, was born in Randolph, Massachusetts, and dropped out of high school. He moved to Southern California in the 1960s and founded the company with his brother James, who died at age 72 in 2011.

The siblings opened their first Vans shoe store at 704 E. Broadway in Anaheim on March 16, 1966. The company says their idea was to manufacture shoes on-site and sell them directly to the public.

The brothers started their company with a $250,000 investment and sold it in 2004 for $396 million to VF Corp., which also owns Supreme, The North Face, Timberland, Dickies, Eastpak and Jansport.

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