The first Vans store, 1966.

Vans Founder Publishing a Memoir

Paul Van Doren, the 90-year-old fellow who founded Vans, has penned a memoir.

Pretty nuts to think the shoes you’ve worn most in your life (I’m assuming) were made by a guy who is approaching one hundred. The book is called Authentic and charts Paul’s unlikely journey from high-school dropout to sneaker-industry legend. It’s an amazing story that begins with 16-year-old Paul labouring at a local rubber factory.

Despite having not much going in terms of education (he split school at 14) or retail experience, Paul was born with a gift for numbers, a genius for efficiency, and the vision and know-how to create a much-loved canvas shoe that would evolve into a globally recognized brand with annual revenue of more than four billion dollars. Amazing. Should you drop out of school and get a job in a rubber factory? I would say no, but you should definitely get your hands on this book when it comes out. Watch this space. Or this space:

‘Paul Van Doren: The #1 supporter of Skateboard Footwear since 1966. The American Dream personified. The Original.’ — Geoff Rowley

Paul in the 80s.

‘Paul is a true visionary in the world of athletic shoes. He saw very early on before anyone else that the youth culture of this world was beginning to turn away from traditional sports like football and baseball towards more solo sports like skateboarding, surfing, BMX and snowboarding. He saw it and embraced it before [anyone else]… He won the race wearing the shoes he invented.’ — Stacy Peralta

‘Paul is an inspiration. He’s proof of the American dream. A mentor and fearless leader, and last but not least, the father we all love and respect.’ — Tony Alva

Paul recently.

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