Founded in California in 1966 Vans have become a worldwide brand known for their influence in skate culture. From a small factory opening in Anaheim to a multi billion dollar business Vans have truly conquered the street footwear scene, seeming to outlive the fashion trend cycles year after year.
As a long term customer and fan of the Vans brand I’ve monitored their successes and failures for years. In this article I’ll be covering why Vans are so popular, including these factors: a brief history of the brand, their design and some of their awesome brand collaborations.
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Why Are Vans So Popular?
Vans were the first ever brand to design skate shoes, back in the 1960s when skateboarding was an emerging trend in California youth culture.
Let’s look at the big reasons Vans are still so popular today.
A brief history
- 1966 – Vans were founded in California, by brothers Paul Van Doren, James Van Doren and their friends/ partners Serge Delia and Gorden C. Lee (source).
- Over the years 5 main classic Vans styles were developed (Era in 1976, Old Skool in 1977, Sk8-Hi in 1978, Authetic in 1966 and Slip on in 1982).
- Designed for skateboarding and originally boating, the Vans founders focused on good grip, durability and maximum comfort in their designs.
Vans feature many collaborations each year, which plays a huge factor in their popularity and keeping the brand fresh and revelant.
They have had many over the years, from collaborations with modern art museums (like the MoMa collection), celebrities, brands like Supreme to anime. They have recently collaborated with Sailor Moon in June 2022, and you can view the super cool collection here!
There seems to be no end to the creative collaborations Vans have with other brands, pop culture icons and well known artists. Visit vans.com to see all of the weird and wonderful collaborations they currently have in stock.
Vans collaborations help the brand cast their nets over a wider consumer base, by appealing to the fans of other niches. Vans even do collaborations on their kids collections, most recently with crayon brand Crayola (check out the funky designs here, they are simply amazing to look at).
Popular among skaters and celebrities alike
It’s no question that Vans are known as a staple footwear choice of skate and pop punk culture. This is in part thanks to the way the shoes are designed with a non slip waffle outersole, perfect for skateboarding.
They never seem to go out of style and can even be seen worn on the red carpet by musicians, comedians and other artists like.
Vans are popular among children and adults, men and women. They fit a wide range of circumstances: they make great school shoe and people have even worn them to weddings, paired with a suit for a playful twist.
With so much versatility in one brand it’s no wonder why they continue to go from strength to strength. Their popularity is reflected in the growth of their stock value in last year alone, and revenue over recent years (the brand increased their revenue from $2.3 billion in 2017 to $2.8 billion April 2022).
Their design and comfort
One of the biggest reasons Vans are so popular and have stood the test of time since the 1960s is their comfort and design features.
I’m going to break down their features, and discuss why each one helps make the brand so popular.
- Versatile – Vans feature awesome retro designs with a classic feel that never seems to go out of fashion. Their design is popular for being versatile; wear them to the skate park, on the red carpet or to a shift at work. The versatile and cool Vans design is synonymous with 1960s American skate culture, a nostalgic era that lives permanently in the fashion conscious.
- Practical – Vans have excellent grip which makes them popular practical shoes for a wide range of purposes. If you work on a tiled floor and want to wear Vans on shift or simply want to skate in these shoes, the grippy waffle like outsole will provide you with safe grip as you go about your day. Vans are flat shoes, making them appropriate for walking on different terrain. To see how they fare on 4 different surface types, check out my article on a slip resistance test here: Are Vans Non Slip? A Test on 4 Surfaces (FAQ Guide).
- Comfortable – it’s no secret that Vans are some of the most comfortable shoes you will wear. This only adds to their popular appeal. Vans feature padding around the sneaker collar, plush insoles and flexible rubber outsoles. Vans also offer a range of Ultracush models that have extra plushy padding for those who need more support. Vans have an innovative approach to comfort that makes them a huge industry player year after year.
- Great quality materials – Vans are made with high quality materials. The rubber that makes up the outsole is great quality, durable and flexible, vulcanised to be resistant to damage but springy at the same time. The canvas and suede upper materials the popular Vans styles are made with are tough and durable, but soft on the feet. Whilst it’s still important to properly break in Vans, most are comfortable straight out of the box. This high standard of design and quality makes Vans a superior footwear choice, which is why they are so popular.
- Designs for everyone – Vans offer so many style options to suit all ages, genders and tastes. Go for a high top or a low top, an Old Skool pair for a classic look or the iconic checkerboard slip ons for casual wear. You can even customise a pair of Vans over at vans.com, for a look tailored to you individually!
Thank you for reading this article on why Vans are so popular. I hope you have learned some cool facts about the brand!
Vans are one of my favourite footwear brands and I have been wearing their designs for over 15 years. They are timeless and oh so comfortable, making them a popular footwear choice for all – not just skateboarders! Grab your own pair at vans.com and enjoy the iconic style for yourself.
For more Vans content, check out:
Lorna is a footwear geek and the founder of Wearably Weird. She created a YouTube channel in 2021 for fellow footwear fanatics, dedicated to detail-rich footwear reviews and info. She has a fashion media qualification (awarded in 2011).