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Vans Skateboarding Shoes: Setting the Standard for Skating Shoes

Sean Penn Played High School Burnout and Skater Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982), and wore black and white checkered slip on Vans skateboarding shoes in the role.


Articles by James Dyer

by James Dyer

I’ll be thirty seven in a couple of months, and I can remember my father buying me my first pair of Vans skateboarding shoes when I was a small child, and him telling me that he had bought one of the first pairs of Vans skateboarding shoes when he was a teenager in 1966. Back then skateboards were made by surfers, by pulling the wheels and trucks off of roller skates and screwing them to a board, they had chalk wheels, and Vans skateboarding shoes were “just Vans man.”

I started skateboarding in the late Seventies, and I wore Vans skateboarding shoes.

My board was factory made, by Powell-Peralta, my trucks were Independent, and Sims urethane wheels were the new hot thing. There were a number of Skate Parks in southern California during those years, and skating bowls and half-pipes was the thing to do on a Friday night. Vans Skateboarding shoes continued to evolve with the sport, perfecting their gripping sole, and releasing new designs regularly.

When Fast Times at Ridgemont High came out in 1982, Sean Penn wore Vans in the movie.

He played high school skater and burnout, Jeff Spicoli, in his first major role, and he wore black and white checkered Vans skateboarding shoes. He also hit himself in the head with them while talking on the phone. When his friend asked what the noise was, he replied, “That’s my skull dude!” After that, Vans became enormously popular with kids across the nation; I bought a pair of the black and white checkered slip-ons myself.

My son is a third generation Vans Kid.

It’s true, I bought my son his first pair of Vans when he was two years old, and he was skateboarding in them by the time he was three. He has since given up the skateboard in favor of in-line skates; but he is still wearing Vans skateboarding shoes at thirteen. He thinks that they are cool and comfortable, and I think it’s funny that he is wearing the same shoes I was at his age. When I was a teenager, I didn’t want to wear anything like my parents did. Luckily for me, my dad had given up his Vans by the time I started worrying about things like that. Now that I’m the dad, I think it’s kind of cool that our family has been wearing Vans shoes since the company was called Van Doren Rubber Company, when they first opened their doors in Orange County, back in 1966.

Vans skateboarding shoes are some of the most comfortable and versatile shoes on the market.

They are kind to your feet for everyday wear, and perfect any time things get slippery. I’ve actually done quite a bit of rock climbing in Vans hi-tops, and the slip-ons make great beach, lake or boat shoes. Vans continue to set the standard other skate shoe manufacturers must attempt to match, and are available in a wide variety of styles. They still make the checkered slip-ons, they also make a version of their original lace-ups called Old Skool, and have greatly expanded their line over the past few decades. They make hi-tops, and low-tops, in a variety of styles and colors, though black and red seem to predominate, and are available in canvas, leather and suede, most anywhere sport shoes are sold.

If you would like more information, I found good reviews on Vans skateboarding shoes and other skating supplies.

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