Home to golden sand, sunny people and laid-back attitudes, Southern California is also the birthplace of the modern skateboarding movement. Vans skate shoes were there at the beginning, outfitting folks for active surf and skateboarding lifestyles. Today, Vans is still crafting the same quality footwear, but in unique colors and designs that you can order in your own personal flavor. You can find classic Vans skate shoes at many foot-forward stores, such as Vans.com and Hot Topic.

The Creation of Vans

Paul Van Doren and his partners opened the Van Doren Rubber Co. in 1966, as the underground surf culture in southern California was skyrocketing to mainstream popularity. The idea was to produce custom canvas deck shoes with sticky rubber soles that would be great for wearing on the beach, yet easy to maintain. Because canvas is a coarse cloth made from hemp, the shoes clean right up in the washing machine and air dry quickly.

Skating to Success

Vans shoes were so successful that within 10 years, the company had launched a new style aimed at skateboarders. Called the Era, the new style was the first to feature the ubiquitous skate shoe design. Vans' skate shoes were designed with input from actual skateboarders, who knew what boarders were looking for in a shoe to keep them on firm footing and help them better grip the board.

Expert consultants who have worked with Vans shoe designers include some of the original Z-Boys, like skateboarder Tony Alva (whose aggressive attack on the ramp lip has made his aerial stunts legendary), and Stacy Peralta, credited with bringing together a team that consisted of some of the best skateboarders of all time. Peralta later became a well-known director and producer of skate films, further enhancing the popularity of the Vans skate shoe.

Expanding Lines

In the late 1970s, Vans added the slip-on skate shoe and took its brand to a worldwide market. Since then, the company has added a waffle sole to its standard shoe, giving it an extra sturdy grip on the board and creating a tougher construction that can include leather detailing and rigid stitching.

Today, the Vans skate shoe collection also features the more rugged 106 Vulcanized, based on the classic Chukka Low, and the Old Skool, a lace-up, short shoe similar to the 1978 Vans Sidestripe. Plus, you'll find high-top and boot styles for more ankle support, as well as mountain hiking and snowboarding styled shoes that provide a sturdy look and fit for navigating the winter landscape.

Personalized Style

What makes a Vans skate shoe extra special is the freedom you have to design your own custom pair. Start with basic black or white shoes and choose from over 45 different colors and patterns, including checkerboard, skulls, flames, plaid, polka dots and stars. Most Vans skate shoes are available in men's or women's sizes, from toddlers to adults.