It seems like there isn’t a born and bred Californian that doesn’t remember their first pair of Vans. Its really part of the culture there, isn’t it?
If I talk to people from New York and say Vans, older people don’t know what I’m talking about. You ask a Californian and they always know Vans. If I’m on a plane and I’m talking to someone, they say what do you do and I say have you heard of Van’s shoes. They always go ‘oh yeah my cousin had those’ or ‘I remember my custom pair I had made when I was at high school’.
I remember a lady coming in with a mink coat who had just divorced her husband and didn’t want the coat anymore. She made a pair of Vans out of that mink coat. I remember Jackson Brown sent some pants down to us, that was a snake skin looking fabric and we made shoes out of that for him. People definitely loved them in Southern California. If we had the penetration of Southern California around the world, we’d be a 6-8 billion dollar company. There was that kind of East Coast / West Coast thing going on. Converse on the east and Vans on the west. My Dad’s philosophy was we took whatever the public would give us, make whatever shoes you needed. If you were and 8 in one foot and a 9 in the other, in the old days we’d give you and 8 and a 9. We’d do things the other people weren’t going to do.
Do you remember your first pair of Vans?
I’m not really sure but it was probably a deck shoe.
Do you remember the last time you actually had to pay for a pair of sneakers?
Not really. A couple of times I have bought them for friends. I remember when I was in 5th grade, I was into Hawaiian shirts, I have hundreds of them. The surfers Nathan and Christian Fletcher, their Grandfather owned a Hawaiian Fabric company down in Irvine. I’d get 10 or 12 different samples of fabrics and go to the factory and make my own Hawaiian shoes.
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