Co-founder of Vans shoes dies just days after publishing his memoirs

Co-founder of Vans shoes dies just days after publishing his memoirs

05/08/2021

Paul Van Doren, co-founder of iconic skateboarding sneaker brand Vans, has died only days after publishing his memoir.

Van Doren, who set up the California-based company with his brother Jim in 1966 has passed away aged 90, the company confirmed on Friday.

Vans announced the sad news on Twitter yesterday afternoon.

His cause of death is not yet known.

"It is 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," the company said.

“The Van Doren Rubber Company was the culmination of a lifetime of experimentation and hard work in the shoe industry.

"Paul’s bold experiments in product design, distribution and marketing, along with his knack for numbers and efficiency turned a family shoe business into a globally recognized brand,” the post added.

“We send our love and strength to the Van Doren family and the countless Vans Family members who have brought Paul’s legacy to life.”

The company was set up in the 1960s with business partners Gordon Lee and Serge Delia.

Originally called The Van Doren Rubber Co, it began selling shoes out of a warehouse, and the slogan on the first shoebox read: "Canvas Shoes for the Entire Family".

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The brand grew steadily across the following decade after surfers and skateboarders loved the shoes and had 70 stores open by the end of the 1970s.

It was sold to VF Corp. in 2004, but the family still holds roles in the company today.

Paul's son Steve Van Doren is the brand's vice president of events and promotions and his granddaughter Kirsty Van Doren works as senior director of marketing for the North Americas.

Jenny Battiest, Paul's granddaughter, is merchandising manager for the Americas and daughter Cheryl Van Doren is currently vice president of human resources.

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During his time spearheading the company, Paul would say he was building a people company over a shoe brand, WWD reported.

“I didn’t give a damn about the résumé, what I did care about was the person. If the person was right, the résumé would be OK. If the person was not, probably the résumé would show that he’s wonderful,” he recently told the outlet.

“The hardest thing in this industry is to sort between the guy who gives a s**t and the guy who really gives a s**t.”

On their first day, they sold 22 pairs of shoes and Van Doren forgot to put cash in the register, but every single person came back and paid.

He released his memoir, 'Authentic', just a week ago, and in the book, he revealed how Vans' famed checkerboard design came about.

The inspiration came from students at Huntington Beach High School who Paul noticed were drawing checkerboards on the rubber strip of the shoe.

Van Doren's granddaughter, Kirsty Van Doren-Batson, posted a tribute on Instagram.

"My grandpa Van Doren passed away this afternoon," she said. "He was an amazing man and had accomplished a lot. I will miss him tremendously, but I know he’s in a better place. I love you grandpa!!!"

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