SoCal icon Vans celebrates 50 years of shoe making

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The iconic Southern California based Vans is celebrating its 50th year of making and selling shoes.

In 1982, Sean Penn wore them as Jeff Spicoli in "Fast Time at Ridgemont High." Last month, a couple of Riverside teens became viral superstars while wearing them. Today, Vans celebrates 50 years of making and selling iconic shoes with events all over the world.

"Austin to Korea, Mexico City, Canada, like all happening, all celebrating all at once tonight," said Bobby Gascon, Vans director of action sports marketing.

The company was started by brothers Paul and Jim Van Doren and a friend, Gordon Lee, inside a building in Anaheim on March 16, 1966.

"His motto was more like, 'We're a people company that makes shoes,' and I think that instilled family values in the business," said Gascon.

MORE: 'Damn Daniel' teens donate Vans shoes to sick children in SoCal

The company made shoes the way skaters asked them to and quickly became a favorite for the professionals and innovators of the sport. As skateboarding grew more popular, so did the brand.

"Vans has been behind skateboarding 100 percent from the beginning," said Mike Barnes, outside the Vans skate park in Huntington Beach. "From being a little kid when I was 12-years-old, I was always wearing Vans."

Barnes helped the company build skate parks around the country, including several in Orange County. Vans has grown to a multi-billion dollar company, reaching beyond shoes and apparel into music and action sports.

But, always promising to stick to its roots.

"We don't see it as a transactional, it's an emotional connection, and that means a lot to us," said Gascon.

To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Vans is receiving some of its first styles, including the checkered slip-ons Spicoli wore.
Related Topics:
fashionbusinessskateboardingclothingAnaheimOrange County
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