Paul von Doran, co-founder of Vance, the Southern California sneakers that were loved by skateboarders and became an international success, has died. He is 90 years old.
The company, located in the southeast of Los Angeles in the Costa Mesa, announced Van Doran’s death on social media on Friday, but did not provide any details.
“Paul was not just an entrepreneur; He is an innovator, ”the company said. “Paul’s bold experiments in product design, distribution and marketing made his family shoe business a globally recognized brand with his prowess for numbers and performance.”
Van Doran was a high school student who moved from the Boston area to Southern California. Van Doran, his brother James (died 2011) and business partners Gordon Lee and Serge Delia opened Van Doran Rubber Co. in Orange County in 1966 to manufacture and sell their shoes. At first, they struggled to produce enough product to fill the shoe box on store shelves.
Van Doran had two decades of experience in shoe production, but he recalled that he had nothing in the retail business.
“The first person gave me bill 5; A pair of shoes is 49 2.49, ”he said after publishing his memoir“ True ”to Los Angeles magazine last month.
“But I didn’t have money on the cash register, so I gave her the shoes,” Van Doran said. “We sold 16 or 18 pairs of shoes that day. You know what? I said ‘come back later to pay.’ Each of those people came back and paid.”
Van Doran’s son, Steve Van Doran, said his father’s ingenuity helped make the business successful.
“My dad was a Systems guy,” Steve van Doran told the Los Angeles Times in 2009. “He made the boxes color-coded, blue for men, green for women and orange for the boys, so you can see what the goods are right now. He thought. ”
Van Doran allowed people to order customized shoes. He expanded the customer base by allowing them to sell a variety of designs everywhere, from surf shops to department stores.
“The key” to success is giving customers what they want, said Van Doran.
“If it’s a checkerboard, if it’s bright pinks and yellows, or if it’s dinosaurs or a skull and crossbones, ask for their two cent value about colors and designs,” he said.
The shoes, with their canvas tops and stiff, diamond-shaped rubber legs, captured the luxury of skateboarders. The company, which had a keen eye on trends, quickly caught on.
“Everyone kicked these kids out of the park and kicked them out of the pools. A company here is listening to them, supporting them and making shoes for them,” Van Doren told the Los Angeles newspaper.
The company paid Stacy Perralda, a professional skateboarder to wear her shoes. The vans also sold shoes individually, which benefited skateboarders who tended to wear one at a time.
The brand’s popularity grew after Sean Penn wore his own pair of checkerboard slip-ons in the 1982 film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”.
However, knockoffs and competition made Vance profitable, as well as misguided attempts to expand the range of its offerings with specialized shoes for football, basketball, skydiving and break dancing. The company was forced into bankruptcy protection in 1984 and sold to a banking company in 1988.
Over the years, the brand’s reputation has waxed and waned, losing new, high-tech footwear and regaining it when retro comes back into fashion.
The company, renamed Vance Inc., went public in 1991 and was sold in 2004 to VF Corp in Denver, which owns numerous footwear and clothing brands, including Dickies, Johnsport, Timberland and The North Face.
Today, Vance manufactures its footwear overseas. It continues to market its traditional designs while monitoring trend setters by collaborating with designers, skateboarding, BMX and surfing benefit and other celebrities.
Vans sell for about $ 2 billion a year, and its shoes are found on the feet of Justin Bieber, Kanye West and Kardashians.
The company has developed skateboards and sponsored a variety of events, including the Warpet Tour, the annual International Travel Rock Festival and the US Open of Surfing on Huntington Beach, California.