Vans announces death of co-founder Paul Van Doren at age 90

A pair of purple Vans Old Skool sneakers.
Vans started as a sneaker company for skateboarders in Southern California and expanded into a worldwide phenomenon.
(Victoria Hernandez / Los Angeles Times)

Vans announced Friday that its co-founder Paul Van Doren passed away at the age of 90.

“It’s with a heavy heart that Vans announces the passing of our co-founder, Paul Van Doren,” a Twitter post said. “Paul was not just an entrepreneur; he was an innovator. 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 text accompanied a photo of Van Doren smiling and giving a thumbs-up along with a quote from the sneaker visionary that stated, “Do what’s right. Stand behind what you do every single minute of every day. Take care of people.”

Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley commented on Van Doren’s passing, expressing how Paul, along with his brother James, “helped bring creativity and ingenuity to this now iconic company.”


James passed away in 2011 at 72 years old.

Skateboarder Lizzie Armanto posted to her Instagram story, sending her condolences to the Van Doren family and tagging Steve Van Doren, Paul’s son. Steve had not commented publicly at time of publication.

The Van Doren brothers founded the company that would become Vans in 1966. It was originally called the Van Doren rubber company and opened its first store in March of that year. The company would become identified with its signature waffle rubber sole and family atmosphere.

When the Van Doren Rubber Co. threw open its retail doors at 704 E.

March 12, 2016

Vans began to gain popularity through Southern California skate culture and had its Hollywood moment in 1982 with the release of the movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” in which Sean Penn’s character, Jeff Spicoli, wore a pair of checkerboard slip-ons.

Since then, Vans has branded itself as much more than a sneaker company through its sponsorship of the Warped Tour, starting in 1996. It became one of the most coveted stages in the music world and featured bands such as Offspring, Linkin Park, Blink-182, Sum 41, Paramore, Black Eyed Peas and No Doubt.

Kids of Immigrants cofounders Daniel Buezo and Weleh Dennis were inspired by their parents as they designed their first Vans sneaker.

Oct. 2, 2020


Vans has collaborated with several companies, including Kids of Immigrants, National Geographic, Fear of God and Peanuts.

Vans was bought out by VF Corp in 2004 for $396 million.