Vintage Vans Shoes: A History and Guide

Vintage Vans shoes are a must-have for any sneakerhead or vintage enthusiast. Founded in 1966, Vans quickly became the go-to brand for skaters and surfers, especially during the 80s. The brand is celebrated for its iconic designs and laid-back California style. While Vans has seen many evolutions, its 80s shoes, in particular, remain a collector’s dream.

So, let’s begin to look at the history of vintage Vans sneakers, focusing on the 80s era that made them a household name. The creator of the van shoes is Paul Van Doren.

The Man Behind the Brand: Paul Van Doren
Paul Van Doren

Paul Van Doren is the visionary founder of Vans, one of the world’s most iconic skate and surf brands. Starting as a cobbler’s apprentice in Massachusetts, he eventually moved to California in the 1960s. Alongside partners Jim Van Doren and Gordy Lee, he established a shoe store that quickly gained traction among local skaters and surfers thanks to its stylish and durable designs.

1977 saw the release of the now-iconic checkerboard slip-on, which gained massive popularity after its feature in “The California Kid.” This exposure catapulted Vans into international stardom, and the brand has been synonymous with classic styles ever since. Today,   athletes and fashion enthusiasts adore Vans, with vintage Vans sneakers from the 80s being some of the most sought-after.

What Era was Vans popular?

While Vans shoes were introduced in the 1960s, they truly made their mark during the late 70s and especially the 80s. These iconic shoes were not limited to skateboarders; they became a fashion statement embraced by celebrities and everyday individuals alike. Vans’ unique style resonated with the masses, making them a popular choice for casual wear.

As the 80s progressed, Vans expanded their designs to cater to various sports such as skateboarding, BMX, and motocross. This further solidified their position as a versatile and sought-after brand. How to identify vintage van shoes

There are a few ways that you can identify vintage van shoes. One way is by looking at the soles of the shoes. Vintage van shoes have thicker soles than newer models and have a different tread pattern. Another way to tell if a pair of vans is vintage is by checking the inside of the shoe. On vintage vans, the inside lining is made of a different material than on newer models. Finally, you can check the tags on the shoes. Vintage vans will have a different style on the label than more unique shoes.

Identifying Vintage Vans Sneakers

Spotting vintage Vans shoes from the 80s requires a keen eye. Look for thicker soles, distinct from newer models, and a unique tread pattern. The inside lining of vintage Vans sneakers is made of a different material than contemporary models. Additionally, the tags on vintage Vans from the 80s will have a distinct style compared to newer shoes.

Where Are Vans Shoes Made?

While Vans has its roots in California, all Vans shoes are now manufactured in Asia, specifically in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. This shift was primarily due to cost-effective production in these countries.

What are some of the most popular vintage van styles?

Van Era started in 1979

Vans Era

These vintage shoes were made by Van and released in 1976 and are truly unique. Their bold style and unparalleled comfort will make a statement wherever you go. Perfect for any outfit, whether you’re dressing up or dressing down. Whether hitting the town or kicking back, the Van Era will make you look and feel your best. You can check the price here van era.  

Checkerboard Slip-On born in 1977


The Checkerboard Slip-On by Van Shoes is a true classic. Released in 1977, fashionistas and trendsetters have loved this vintage style for decades. The bold checkerboard pattern is eye-catching and unique, making these shoes an instant fashion statement. They’re also supremely comfortable, thanks to the padded footbed and soft fabric lining. Whether you’re rockin’ a retro look or want comfortable shoes to slip on, the Checkerboard Slip-On is perfect for you.

Sk8-Hi created in 1978

Vans x Strange things

The Sk8-Hi from Van Shoes is a classic sneaker first released in 1978. It has a high-top design for excellent ankle support, and the canvas and suede upper give it a stylish look. The rubber outsole provides excellent traction and durability, making this sneaker ideal for skateboarding or everyday wear. With its retro style and comfortable fit, the Sk8-Hi is a must-have shoe for any fashion-savvy individual.

If you’re a vintage lover or sneakerhead, you know a pair of Vans shoes is a must-have. With their iconic designs and comfortable fit, these shoes are perfect for any outfit. So whether you’re hitting the town or just kicking back, make sure you have a pair of vintage Vans.



I am a blogger that was born in the 1980's. So I decided to write about the 1980's because I feel that was one of the best decades ever.

Recent Posts