Or 10 reasons why I don't need Nike Air soles to fly nor keep my feet Off The Wall:
1. Its first store was opened to the public in 1966 by brothers Paul and James VAN Doren in Broadway--the same year fellow Californian and author of "The Satanic Bible," Anton LaVey, founded the Church of Satan (just add another 6 hehehe).
2. The Van Doren Rubber Co. started out as DIY* and was very anti-corporate. They manufactured shoes and sold them directly to the public--in other words, very punk rock! A la Recto's "pasadya" stores Glenmore and Luciano back in the day, Vans only had shoes (authentic #44) for display and customers had to pick what shoe they wanted made. Customers then came back in the afternoon or the next day to pick up their finished shoes. Operative word is "custom".
3. Its sticky waffle sole favored skateboarders--who need non-slip shoe bottoms to grip slick decks--so by the 1970s, many skaters (including BMX riders and even surfers) were sporting Vans all over SoCal. Z-Boys and sk8 legends Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta (watch "Lords of Dogtown") even designed the multi-colored #95 (a la "bagets") which became the first sk8board-specific shoe.
4. It wasn’t until 1982 when Sean Penn, playing the role of a stoned surfer, wore a checkered slip-on #98 in the iconic youth film "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" that people around the globe desired to own at least a pair of Vans.
5. With the rise of HC** punk in the US during the early 80s (watch "American Hardcore"), Vans became the shoe of choice in the UG*** music scene. Sharing the same DIY ethics Vans had in the 60s, lo-top #36 and hi-cut #38 were seen worn by frontmen of pioneer "old school" HC bands Minor Threat (Ian MacKaye) and Black Flag (Henry Rollins), among many others.
6. Appearing on the front cover of the "American Hardcore" DVD, on the back of Wasted Youth's debut album "Reagan's In," and on countless fliers and fanzines, the now (in)famous backflip shot of a skater stagediving into the audience during a 1981 concert was shown wearing a pair of Vans old skools.
7. Since 1995, Vans sponsored the annual Warped Tour which showcased punk music and extreme sports. Held in parking lots or large fields (a la Woodstock), the tour featured a flea market/"tiangge"-like atmosphere in the spirit of DIY where indie bands, record labels, zine publishers, and non-profit orgs sell their merch.
8. At least one or two members of today's best post-punk, post-HC, post-metal, post-everything bands wear Vans on and off the stage. It has been worn to more rock concerts and slampits than any other shoe. And there's just something uber hot and cool about chicks wearing it under skinny jeans or short skirts.
9. With its colorful canvas uppers and gum rubber soles, Vans is heavy-duty but very comfy for every day use. Wear it with or without socks, in casual or formal wear, in all weather, for all ages, etc.
10. Jazz up your Vans to express your individuality and sense of style. Spraypaint it, dye it, button it, stud it, etc.
Thanks to Jay Tiyanak for the last pic (me doing an air ollie in the mosh pit).