Vans embodies the sort of laid-back cool that Southern Californians do so well; you can’t help but feel a little more relaxed just by slipping on a pair. No wonder they’ve been part of the standard-issue uniform of the ultimate experts in chilled-out style—skateboarders and surfers—pretty much since The Van Doren Rubber Company opened its doors in Anaheim, California, in 1966.
“Why’s that,” you say? Their rubber soles provided a better grip than other sneaks, so moves that involved catching air got simpler with Vans on your feet. And they’re so easy to get on and off—instant surfer bait. Then, of course, the black and white checkerboard slip-ons Sean Penn’s Jeff Spicoli sported in 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High cemented their cultural-icon status and created demand way beyond California’s borders. Vans’ founder, Paul Van Doren, was inspired to make a few pairs in the now-classic pattern after spotting kids checkering the white rubber sides of their Vans with ballpoint pens. Genius.
So thank you, Vans, for making it a cinch to have a little more casual-cool in our lives. The classic check along with exclusive styles they made just for us (and you, of course) are right over here.