Off The Wall

The Southern California skate scene put them on the map.  Sean Penn’s decision to bring his checkerboard slip-ons to the set in character as Jeff Spicoli in the classic movie “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” made them a worldwide sensation.  And their continued sponsorship of so-called “extreme” events and skate parks has kept them relevant for a new generation of kids.

Of course, I am referring to Vans shoes.  And, while their ownership by VF Corporation, the largest apparel company in the world, guarantees that they have long since left behind their status as the little company that could, the story of Vans is still one worth studying and celebrating.


And, therefore, Vans’ vice president of marketing, Doug Palladini has done just that with his new book “Vans: Off the Wall: Stories of Sole from Vans Originals “, due out next week.  The Los Angeles Times ran a feature this week on Vans’ “happily checkered past” that whets the appetite for Vans’ lovers in advance of the book.

You’ve gotta dig these shoes.  And you’ve gotta dig the fact that Vans co-founder (and visionary) Paul Van Doren is still represented in the day-to-day operations of the company with his son, daughter, and granddaughter on the payroll at corporate headquarters in Cypress, CA.

The skaters might only care about the rubber soles, and the non-skateboarding Vans’ wearers might care only about the cool styles, but we should all ponder the reasons for this brand’s success.  Bottle it and you’ve got a leg up on the other entrepreneurs working on the creation of the post-recession economy.

We need more Vans (and maybe more Paul Van Dorens) to do in 2009 what made such common sense when venturing into business back in 1966.  And if you don’t see the deeper story here, that’s fine too.  No reason to fret.  Feel free to do a little shopping instead.

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~ by acm213 on May 27, 2009.

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