The History of VANS’ Waffle Sole

The History of VANS’ Waffle Sole

Okay, let's get something straight here - it takes a lot, and we mean a LOT to become a totem in this world of footwear that we all love. But, a small crew located in Southern California did just that; they broke the mould, they created new precedence for a shoe that ended up doing just about everything. 

The History of VANS

But who founded VANS? In this article, we explore exactly this. We’ll delve into the history of VANS, who was first to use the infamous ‘Off the Wall’ phrase we are so fond of today, and let you in on the not-so famous facts about VANS.

In 1966, Paul Van Doren opened the doors for his namesake Van Doren Rubber Company, a day that would respectively go down in history.

However, before the globally recognised Waffle sole and a spot atop skateboarding royalty's throne was obtained, Paul had a number of boxes to tick - the primary and potentially most important touch-point being the formulation of a silhouette that could not be forgotten. He believed that, so succeed one must either 'love it or leave it' - which is just how he ended up conquering casual footwear in its entirety.

Where VANS' Story Started

It all started in the early '60s, when Paul gathered the essentials, his family and quite possibly the kitchen sink before upping sticks and heading Anaheim-way, deciding Cali would make the best birthplace for an affordable brand endorsing the best quality possible to thrive. As a matter of fact, he didn't set out to make a skate shoe specifically - more so a canvas shoe for anyone and everyone. 

Yet, if success is destined does it really matter how this occurs? In creating something downright affordable and built to last, the competitive Zephyr Boys adopted Paul's silhouette as their own - meaning Allen Sarlo, Jay Adams, Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta all rocked VANS until the soles fell off, used as a focal development group in perfecting the waffle and enhancing traction time. It was also this team who first used the phrase 'Off the Wall' - later coined for used by VANS directly to earmark skate-specific models.

After being persuaded that skating bore a suitable market for canvas VANS footwear, cogs started turning - in response, pairs were designed with a rider's needs under consideration, injecting elevated cushion around the ankle, somewhat more progressive tread and loud embellishments. Good move, Paul - almost as smart as being the first manufacturer to offer custom colourways at a customer's request, or integrating that sustainably side-wall residing 'Jazz Stripe' in '77.

Modern Day VANS

Fast-forward to the modern day, VANS tucks a movie feature, multiple musically-skewed accolades and the entire footwear market in a headlock - expanding into wakeboarding, moto-sports, snowboarding and of course BMW competitions. If it can be considered ever-so-slightly dangerous, VANS is all over it.

And guess what? You can secure your pair in-store or online with TOWER today. Just click here, you won't regret it. Or are you looking for more? Check out our footwear blog for streetwear to high-end style advice and expert knowledge, exploring the history of VANS Slip-Ons or learning to differentiate between the Old Skool, Sk8 Hi and Slip-on silhouettes