The concept of customizing a shoe today is taken for granted, indeed, some would even say outdated. It is certainly a topic that divides the Sneaker Community a lot.
In a world where expressing one’s personality through style is increasingly important, costume design is a trend that reinvents itself and, in some way, always manages to take a step forward.
In fact, it is possible to customize at all levels: brands, sneaker-shops, top-level artists all play in the same league.
But where does this trend come from?
The answer lies in Anaheim California and responds to the name of Vans.
Vans, most of all, was one of the first brands that focused on creating a product that conformed to the demands of its customers, making customization its main trademark (in addition to making cool shoes!)
Like all the successful realty, the history behind it is made by a mix of talent and a good sense of business.
In the 1966, Paul Van Doren and his brother Jim opened the Van Doren Rubber Company at 704 East Broadway in Anaheim.
For Steve Van Doren (Paul’s son), the story of how Vans started its customization went more or less like this:
“One day a lady came in and said, ‘That’s a nice pink but I really want a brighter pink!’ and then she picked up the yellow shoe and said, ‘That’s a nice yellow but it really is too light!’ My dad thought to himself, ‘For crying out loud, I can’t afford to carry five different colours of pink. So he said, ‘Lady, why don’t you get a piece of fabric, whatever colour pink you want, bring it back and I’ll make a shoe for you.’ So it was almost the first day that they started charging extra to do custom shoes.”
Nowdays Vans celebrates its roots and legacy with these amazing “Anaheim Factory Collection” featuring the iconic “Style #44” that was their first authentic deck shoe.