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The Community Remembers Paul Van Doren: 1930 – 2021

paul van doren
Paul Van Doren, 1974
Paul Van Doren, Taken in 1974

The passing of the legendary Paul Van Doren, co-founder of Vans, has left us – and the entire sneaker and skateboarding community – with heavy hearts.

Born in 1930, Paul grew up in the Boston area. His mother eventually dragged him into the shoe factory where she worked and got him a job sweeping the factory floor. This decision would define his future, and that of skateboarding footwear forever.

Paul worked his way up the ranks to become vice president at Randy’s, a local shoe manufacturer. His dream was to have his own factory and his own retail stores. He was a great businessman, his brother Jim was an amazing engineer, and their friend Gordon was an excellent manufacturing manager. Together they formed the Van Doren Rubber Company with Serge D’Elia, who had been supplying shoe uppers from Japan to the US. It took a year to set up the factory at 704 East Broadway in Anaheim, planting the seed for Vans, the brand we know and adore today.

Needless to say, Paul was more than just an entrepreneur – he was a visionary and, most importantly, a loyal and loving family man. We send out our condolences and deepest sympathies to the Van Doren family, and all those who were close to Paul.

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