Vans is a footwear brand that was first launched in 1966. The company was founded by brothers Paul Van Doren and James Van Doren, along with Gordon C. Lee. His first store opened at 704 East Broadway in Anaheim, California. The company manufactured its own shoes and sold them directly to the public through this store. The full name of the company was The Van Doren Rubber Company, but it soon became known as Vans.
The first logo the company used was just a printed version of the word VANS. A line extending from the top of the V with ‘ANS’ written in slightly smaller letters underneath. This logo appeared on all shoes the company produced, either on the outside or on the inside of the shoe.
The original version of the skate logo with the text “Off The Wall” was designed in the 1970s by the son of the president and co-owner James Van Doren. Mark Van Doren was just 13 when he designed the logo as a stencil that he wanted to spray paint onto his skateboard. It was around this time that the company decided to focus on skate shoes. They started using the logo on the heel tab of the Style 95 shoe, which is one of the first skate shoes they produced. Both logos are still synonymous with the brand today.
Although not a logo, the other design feature that has been included in the vast majority of shoes the company has produced since the 1970s is the ‘jazz stripe’. This started out as a Paul Van Doren doodle, and it’s just a line with a couple of curves. It often appears on the outside of the shoe, mostly in a different color than the actual shoe. The jazz stripe is as much a part of the brand as the logo, and you can use it to recognize a pair of shoes as being made by Vans, even if you can’t see the logo right away.
What does “Off The Wall” mean?
‘Off The Wall’ was the name of a skate trick that was very popular in California during the 1970s. Groups of skaters visited abandoned houses and used the empty pools to perform tricks. They would start these tricks by throwing themselves off the walls of the pool. According to Eastern Surf, skaters often found themselves outside of the rest of society during this period. Their skateboarding style became a way of expressing themselves, and they also showed their creativity through art, music, and fashion. This is something that Vans felt their brand embraced and their shoes became very popular with the skate community.
The Van Doren family sold the business in 1988. The decision was made not to make any changes to the name or logo because it was a highly respected brand. Under the new owners, the company worked with skater Steve Caballero to design its signature shoe, which was called the Half Cab. According to the Vans website, this became one of the most culturally significant shoes ever released in skateboarding history. It also remains one of the most iconic designs the company has ever made. The design does not feature the jazz stripe, but the Vans logo is present on the inside of the shoe.
Over the years, they began to manufacture footwear and clothing that could be used for other sports such as BMX, snowboarding, and surfing. These are all activities where people are free to bring their own style to the sport. Being able to express yourself any way you want is something that Vans has always championed. The logo may not be as visible on clothing as it is on shoes, but the spirit in which the products are made remains the same. This is something that has remained that way, regardless of who owns the business.
The company changed hands again in 2004 when it became part of the North Carolina-based VF Corporation. They also own other outdoor brands like The North Face and Timberland. All of these brands retain their own unique identity and this is something I wanted to preserve for Vans as well. This once again meant that the ownership change did not lead to a logo change.
Recent changes to the logo
In 2016, Vans launched a campaign to make people aware that they no longer viewed themselves exclusively as a skate brand. This coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the company. This also meant that his catchphrase ‘Off The Wall’ no longer just applied to the skate trick. However, he will always continue to defend the freedom of expression that the skaters of the 1970s captured.
Doug Palladini told Adweek that Off The Wall was now referring to a state of mind with the …