Brand Spotlight

Brand Spotlight: Vans

Vans Brand Spotlight

Vans are a manufacturer of shoes, clothing and accessories and their branding is mainly aimed at the sports industry – they currently sponsor skateboard, surf, snow and BMX teams.

The company was founded in 1966 and was created by Paul Van Doren and his three partners. Based in the US, the team opened their first store under the name the Van Doren Rubber Company and began manufacturing shoes and selling them to the public.

The company’s first day of sales was an interesting one. Their first day of business saw 12 customers buy deck shoes from the three styles that were all on offer. The styles ranged in price from $2.49 – $4.99. The team were so unprepared for the initial customer interest that they had failed to stock up on inventory – instead only manufacturing the shoes that were on display. So the customers that wanted to buy stock were asked to place their orders and the partners went away on the same day to manufacture the shoes. But as they had made no previous sales, they had no change in the till to give their customers on purchase of the shoes. So instead of taking cash for the items, the team had to let their first customers leave the store with their products without paying for them. The founders asked their customers to return the next day to pay for the items – which they all did! And that’s how the company’s sales began.

Throughout the 1970’s the brand began to grow and became especially popular within the skateboarding market. The style of shoe and colour combination was very popular with skaters and the brand began to pick up in popularity, even more so when the Vans #95 shoes (now known as the ‘Era’) were released in 1975. They were designed by a couple of pro skateboarders and featured non slip bottoms for a better grip.

A year later the ‘Vans Slip On’ was released, which really cemented the brand’s place in the skateboarding market, and 70 stores were opened across California. Throughout the 1980’s Vans branched into other sporting markets including wakeboarding, motocross and surfing but despite their previous success in the skateboarding market, the brand faced tough competition. In the mid 1980’s the competition was too much and founder Pal Van Doren filed for bankruptcy. He (and the brand) soon recovered and by the late 1980’s the company was selling more shoes than ever before. This led to Van Doren selling off the company in 1988 to a banking firm for $74.4 million.

Flash forward 20 years and the brand is still going strong. The company has successfully expanded into a number of sports markets, is sponsoring a variety of sports teams and has a large online presence. Customers can now buy a number of different products from Vans including shoes, clothing and accessories and customers can even personalise their shoes via the brand’s e-commerce website.

To find wholesale suppliers of sports brands and products like Vans head to the wholesale clothing suppliers section.

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