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Vans founder Paul van Doren has died

May 11, 2021 9:00 PM
Vans founder Paul van Doren has died

Paul van Doren, co-founder of the world-famous Vans, has passed away. Last weekend, Vans announced the sad news through official channels. Paul was ninety years old.

"It's 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."


In the 17th century, Paul van Doren's distant ancestors emigrated from the Netherlands to America. Paul was born on 12 June 1930 in Boston. He grew up there and at the age of fourteen decided to quit school. He then ended up in the sneaker world, as he took a side job in a shoe factory.

In 1966, Paul, his brother James van Doren and two friends decided to open a shoe store called Van Doren Rubber Co. They offered three different kinds of shoes and the prices ranged from $2.49 - $4.99. On opening day, the four of them sold a total of twelve pairs. At first, sales were not too smooth, but by the end of the 1970s, there were a total of 70 shops throughout California. The name changed when people started saying 'Let's head over to Van's and grab some shoes'. Vans liked the nickname and decided to make it the official name.

Paul van Doren

Still, things did not always go well for Vans. In 1984, Vans filed for bankruptcy. The main shoes did sell, but the wide range of products on offer made it impossible for Vans to pay off its debts. Paul van Doren had to tell the staff that they might not get a pay rise for three years and that they had to cut back on everything, except the quality of the sneakers. Subsequently, Vans paid off all debts in those three years.

In 1988, van Doren sold Vans for 75 million dollars. Nowadays, Vans is a billion dollar company and it is impossible to imagine the world of sneakers without it. Just before Paul van Doren died, he published a book called Authentic: A Memoir by the Founder of Vans.

Rest In Peace Paul van Doren.