Let’s take a look at the Vans logo and the history of this popular brand. Its iconic logo is seen on thousands of products around the world.
Based in California, Vans is a renowned company that manufactures athletic apparel and footwear. It was founded in 1966, when brothers Paul Van Doren and James Van Doren, along with Gordon C. Lee, opened a small shoe factory and retail store. They also ran the factory and oversaw the entire production process. In 2004, Vans was acquired by the well-known VF Corporation.
The history of the Vans brand
It is quite hard to imagine skateboarding without Vans skate shoes. Considered at various times as the number one manufacturer of sports apparel and footwear, Vans has become a global brand and today even sponsors other events such as snowboarding, surfing and BMX.
In March 2016, Vans celebrated 50 years of existence. Five epic decades of remarkable service and growth have made Vans one of America’s hippest and coolest brands.
A small shoe store in Anaheim, California, is where it all began. The Van Doren brothers, along with Gordon C. Lee, started the company in March 1966, naming it The Van Doren Rubber Company.
Paul Van Doren grew up in Boston. Before he reached the eighth grade, he had dropped out of school to pursue his other passions, including horse racing and other things that 14-year-old boys liked in the 1940s.
Dropping out of school upset Paul’s mother so much that she took him to Randy’s, a shoe factory that was his workplace. There, Paul got a job sweeping floors and making shoes. Little did anyone know that this would shape and guide the young man’s future. Paul worked at the factory for 20 years, rising through the ranks to become executive vice president of the company.
By the early 1960s, while Randy’s had become the third largest shoe manufacturer in the United States, the company’s other plant in California was losing $1 million a month. Randy’s assigned Paul, his brother James and longtime friend Gordon C. Lee to restore the plant’s service and reputation. In eight short months, the West Coast factory managed to turn an even greater profit than the one in Boston.
After three months of success, Paul Van Doren informed his family that he was leaving his job and launching his own shoe company. After being in the shoe manufacturing business most of his life, Paul realized that shoemakers were making mere pennies per pair, while retailers were raking in all the dough.
Paul’s biggest dream was to become a shoemaker who also ran his own shoe store. It took the Van Doren brothers, along with Gordon C. Lee, 12 months to start their own shoe company at 704 East Broadway, CA, known as the Van Doren Rubber Company. Since 1900, only three other companies had manufactured vulcanized shoes in America, namely Randy’s, Converse and Keds.
When the trio’s company started in March 1966, their shoes didn’t even have names, just numbers. In fact, they had only one sneaker, a two-eyelet and a lace-up. The models were called No. 16, No. 19 and No. 20. The first price of the men’s size 44 was $4.49, while the women’s was $2.29.
After a day or two, a woman came back complaining that her pair of yellow shoes was too light and her pair of pink shoes was not bright enough. Paul promised to make the woman a pair of shoes in any shade of pink she wanted, so custom Vans shoes were made. The Van Doren Rubber Company manufactured custom shoes for Catholic schools, drill teams and cheerleaders throughout Southern California.
The company’s main goal was to create the most durable footwear possible for people to show off to their friends. The molds for the waffle soles were made twice as thick as the PF ruffles. A better canvas was used, as well as nylon, instead of cotton. The goal was to outlast all other shoes.
The company grew quickly. They had ten stores in 10 weeks. In 18 months, they had 50 stores. In the late 1970s, Vans made its first skating shoes, because skaters’ shoes wore out so quickly
The skating world propelled Vans to another level. Santa Monica skaters like Stacy Peralta and Tony Alva wanted custom skate shoes. Vans added the popular “Off the Wall” slogan and padded backs. The Skate Hi footwear also featured padded sides to protect skaters’ ankles in case their board flew off the empty pool wall.
Vans’ success is due to paying attention to its customers. If customers wanted plaid on their feet, the company added plaid to the footwear. If they wanted crazy colors, two-tone, low-top and high-top sneakers, the company delivered.
After more than half a century in business, Vans sells $400 million worth of shoes a year. The company sponsors professional athletes in many different sports, including snowboarding, BMX, skateboarding and surfing
Vans has managed to maintain authenticity over the decades while remaining a fashion statement. Unlike Adidas or Nike, who make sneakers with flashy breathable pockets or shock-absorbing features, Vans makes original, rugged and stylish sneakers that people always buy.
The evolution of the Vans logo
Vans is very popular among athletes and young people. This is all because the brand was originally designed for those who lead an active lifestyle – even more so, for skateboarders. The first logo even appeared on a skateboard, after which it was depicted on sneakers.
Unlike other popular clothing brands, such as Burberry, the Vans logo has hardly undergone any significant changes throughout its history
The first Vans logo
The first Vans logo was created by the son of one of the founders. He created a stencil that he intended to paint on skateboards. His father, James Van Doren, immediately noticed this graphic and put it on the heel of the Style 95 sneaker. He then decided to start large-scale manufacturing of skate shoes.
The Vans logo features the letter “Vans”, which has a strange look thanks to the horizontal line stretched over the letters A, N and S. This line starts from the top right of the V, which makes the letter look like the mathematical root sign. This aspect of the design is crucial, and has become the key feature of the Vans brand’s visual identity.
The Vans logo today
In 2016, the creators of the Vans logo made it red. This color symbolizes passion, energy and joy. The white background gives off aesthetic sophistication and purity. The white and red palette is diluted with the black “Off the Wall” slogan underneath.
The “Off the Wall” slogan first appeared in the mid-1970s. Santa Monica skateboarders Stacy Peralta and Tony Alva narrated how they skated in an empty pool. Tony boasted that he managed to fly off the wall and fly through the air. Then the fascinated Skip Engblom invented the term “Off the Wall”.
Vans decided to keep a catchy expression in its logo. At first, the phrase was depicted on a skateboard in the shape of a turtle shell, nicknamed “turtle”
Some time later, the term “Vans” was added over the phrase “Off the Wall”. The new trademark was only used on skateboarding shoes. All other items were decorated with the company’s logo and name.
In 2016, the designers removed the skateboard from the old design and left only the words. But if at first the words were uneven, now the font is very unified. All letters are symmetrical and capitalized. The hyphens are the same length and width. Most lines end at right angles and there are no serifs in the margins.
Vans logo elements
The current Vans logo is part slogan and part brand name. Above this logo is a wide orange-red rectangle
In white capital letters, the word “Vans” appears inside the rectangle. The letter V is slightly larger than the other letters, and there is a horizontal line starting at the top right of the V and extending over all the letters.
Below the rectangle, there is a pair of quotation marks around the phrase Off the Wall. The company slogan is rendered in black, but in a font similar to the rest of the Vans logo. The uppercase san-serif typeface has thick lines of the same width and some curves.
Although the popular van logo still appears on some Vans items, the company opted to switch to the more basic modern rectangular design, as it seemed more contemporary than the 1970s slanted design.
what is the typography of the Vans logo?
All versions of the Vans logo use a thick, uppercase, sans serif typeface, which extends the letter V in a horizontal line above all other letters. The typeface is a custom variation of the Helvetica font, which became popular in 1970s advertising.
The colors of the Vans logo
The first Vans sneakers had a white stripe with blue lettering. When the company changed its logo to the shape of a van, a bright red, orange color was chosen, as it stood out more. The company briefly changed to a more somber black and white variant, but then returned to the original red. The current logo is red on a white background, while the tagline is written in black.
Vans Off The Wall Logo Inspiration
Like many shoe designs, the skateboarders who wore Vans sneakers directly inspired the company’s logo. At the time, skateboarders loved to perform crazy stunts in the many empty swimming pools in California. This was called flying “off the wall.” It was also a fancy trick that even inexperienced skaters could perform.
In addition, this spin is used to represent an eccentric or quirky person, so it fits perfectly with the Vans image. The founding Van Doren brothers gave Vans its brand name, and the name was also the inspiration for the company’s van-shaped logo.