Growing up in California in the late 70s and early 80s, Vans were the shoes you wore so that you didn't get beat up during recess. The shoes had cred, as they say, and Mom liked the canvas uppers that "breathed," so it was easier to convice her to buy the real thing and not knockoff shoes at the swap meet. Plus when you bought a pair, inside was a cool "Off The Wall" sticker that you could stick on your Trapper Keeper folder.
The company started in Anaheim, CA in 1966 by Jerry Van Doren and family. They used to have a large factory in nearby Orange and legend has it you could bring your own fabric and have them make you some custom shoes. While the company is still based in Orange County (now in Cypress, CA), those factories closed long ago. So it's nice to see them pairing with Chicago-based Horween Leather and use some U.S.-made materials. The leather is used for uppers and trims in a lot of their specialty collections like OTW, California Collection, and Vans Vault. We think it adds a refined touch to some classic shoes.
Bonus: We thought this clip was too good to pass up. A great short film by Eliot Rausch & team on the history of Vans featuring some skate legends:
If that got you a little teary-eyed for the old days, Chris Hughes of Artifact Bags blogged about his collection of classic, Made in the US Vans a few years back. Worth the click.