The company, based in southeast Los Angeles in Costa Mesa, announced Van Doren’s death on social media Friday on Friday, but provided no details.
“Paul was not just an entrepreneur; he was an innovator, ”the company said. “Paul’s daring experiences in product design, distribution and marketing, along with his knack for numbers and efficiency have transformed a family-owned footwear company into a globally recognized brand.”
Van Doren was a high school dropout who moved to Southern California from the Boston area. Van Doren, his brother James (deceased in 2011) and their business partners Gordon Lee and Serge Delia opened the Van Doren Rubber Co. in Orange County in 1966, making and selling their own shoes. At first, they struggled to produce enough product to fill shoe boxes on store shelves.
Van Doren had two decades of shoe making experience, but none in retail, he recalls.
“The first person gave me a $ 5 bill; a pair of shoes cost $ 2.49, ”he told Los Angeles Magazine last month after posting his memoir,“ Authentic ”.
“But I didn’t have any money in the cash register, so I gave him 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”. Each of these people came back and paid. “
Van Doren’s son Steve Van Doren said his father’s insight contributed to the company’s success.
“My dad was a systems specialist,” Steve Van Doren told the Los Angeles Times in 2009. “He did things like color coding the boxes, blue for the men, green for the women and orange for the boys, so you can see what inventory you had right away. He would only open stores that had a free outside wall to the right because he thought that was the best place to get someone’s attention if he passed by.
Van Doren also allowed people to order personalized shoes. It expanded the customer base by allowing various models to be sold everywhere from surf shops to department stores.
In “Authentic,” Van Doren said the key to success is giving customers what they want.
“If it’s a checkerboard, if it’s bright pinks and yellows, or if it’s dinosaurs or a skull and crossbones, listen to their two cents on colors and drawings, ”he said.
The shoes, with their canvas uppers and durable diamond-patterned rubber soles, won over skateboarders. The company, which was keeping an eye on trends, was quick to understand.
“Everyone else chased these children out of the park, chased them out of the swimming pools. And here is a company that listens to them, supports them and makes them shoes, ”Van Doren told Los Angeles Magazine.
The company paid professional skateboarder Stacy Peralta to wear his shoes. Vans also sold shoes individually, which benefited skateboarders who tended to wear out one at a time.
The brand’s popularity skyrocketed after Sean Penn wore his own pair of checkered slip-ons in the 1982 film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”.
However, counterfeits and competition have eaten away at Vans’ bottom line, along with misguided efforts to expand its range of offerings with specialty footwear for football, basketball, skydiving and even breakdancing. The company was placed under bankruptcy protection in 1984 and was sold to a banking company in 1988.
Over the years, the brand’s popularity has grown and declined, losing ground to new, more high-tech kicks and regaining it when retro came back into fashion.
The company, renamed Vans Inc., went public in 1991 and was sold in 2004 to VF Corp. of Denver, which owns a large number of shoe and clothing brands including Dickies, JanSport, Timberland and The North Face.
Today, Vans produces its shoes abroad. She continues to sell her traditional designs while keeping an eye out for pioneers by collaborating with designers, skate, BMX and surf pros and other celebrities.
Vans has around $ 2 billion in sales a year, and its shoes have been seen on the feet of Justin Bieber, Kanye West and the Kardashians.
The company has also built skate parks and sponsored various events, including the Warped Tour, an annual international traveling rock festival, and the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California.