LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paul Van Doren, co-founder of the Vans company whose iconic Southern California sneakers were beloved by skateboarders and became an international success, has died. He was 90.
The company, based southeast of Los Angeles in Costa Mesa, announced Van Doren’s death on social media Friday but didn’t provide any details.
“Paul was not just an entrepreneur; he was an innovator,” the company said. “Paul’s bold experiments in product design, distribution and marketing, along with his knack for numbers and efficiency turned a family shoe business into a globally recognized brand.”
Van Doren was a high school dropout who moved to Southern California from the Boston area. Van Doren, his brother James (who died in 2011) and business partners Gordon Lee and Serge Delia opened the Van Doren Rubber Co. in Orange County in 1966, making and selling their own shoes. At first, they struggled to produce enough of the product to fill the shoeboxes on store shelves.
Van Doren had two decades of experience in shoe manufacturing but none in retail, he recalled.