Sunday, 25 November 2012

Skateboard Magazine Archive

This has proved a useful link as its has helped me work out roughly when Vans became popular in UK.

It is all 19 issues of Skateboard Magazine a British publication released between August 1977 and 1979

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Primary research Photographer Glen E Friedman

I contacted as may people as I could who were associated with the early Skateboarding 70's subculture.  One such person was Glen E Friedman who was a  young photographer at the time who hung around with the Zephyr team and Stecyk.

I sent him an email via his website:

An started an email conversation which almost turned into a Skype conversation from New York!

This is a link to his website burningflags.  He is heavily involved with The Occupy Movement such an interesting guy!  This is is blog

This really confirms the direction that my research had taken me i.e. that the subculture started the relationship with Vans and it was the photographs in Skateboorder which really introduced the rest of the world to Vans.  Before Vans started directly marketing Skateboarder shoes.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Possible journals to explore

I found these on a skateboarding forum some journals worth exploring:

Davidson, J (1985) "Sport and Modern Technology. The Rise of Skateboarding, 1963-1978",
Journal of Popular Culture, 18 (4), pp145-157. Beal, B (1995)
"Disqualifying the Official: An Exploration of Social Resistance Through the Subculture of Skateboarding", Sociology of Sport Journal, 12, pp252-267. Beal, B (1996) "
Alternative Masculinity and Its Effects on Gender Relations in the Subculture of Skateboarding",
The Journal of Sport Behavior, 19 (3), pp205-216. Karsten, L & Pel, E (2000)
"Skateboarders exploring urban public space: Ollies, obstacles and conflicts",
 Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, 15 (4), pp327-340. srum Skille, E, (2005) "Individuality or Cultural Reproduction? Adolescent sport Participation in Norway: Alternative versus Conventional Sports", International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 40 (3), pp307-320.
 Borden, I (2001), Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body, Berg.

Dogtown & the Z-boys documentary

An Article in Skateboarder about the Dogtowners from April 2001

The dudes
Tony "Mad Dog" Alva, Jay Adams, Shogo Kubo, Bob Biniak, Jim "Red Dog" Muir, Wentzle Ruml IV, Paul Constantineau, Wes "Bull Dog" Humpston, Arthur Lake, Stacy Peralta, "Baby" Paul Cullen, Marty Grimes, John Palfreyman, Nathan Pratt, Allen Sarlo, Chris Cahill, Skip Engblom, Jeff Ho, C.R. Stecyk III, Billy Yuron, Dexter Greene, Steven Piccolo, Chris Dawson, Jose Gallon, Gary Rosa, The Kaisers, Ray Flores and Glen E. Friedman.

Founding fathers
Skip Engblom, Jeff Ho, and Craig Stecyk are the ones who popularized it, they ran the Zephyr Surf Shop. But Tony Alva and Jay Adams were the most prominent skaters.
How somebody got down
 It was a matter of being at the right spots at the right times and people either thought you were cool or they didn't. Had to have style. Hang out at the Zephyr shop. Mode of operation Search and destroy. Enemies The police and the kooks who were getting all the coverage in the magazines down south, but it was more media hype. Base of operation West L.A., Venice and Santa Monica

Soundtrack Ted Nugent, Hendrix, Aerosmith and Led Zep.

Timeline "75 to '79 were the peak years

Memorable moment
Hanging at the DogBowl was the perfect scan-a pool that you were allowed to skate in Northern Santa Monica, a rich neighborhood. Someone from the crew worked it out so they could skate. Totally tight, and no one could get in unless you were part of the crew. Other than that, they were used to being chased out by disgruntled property owners, with chainsaws, baseball bats and shotguns. Influence on skateboarding They were the first ones to go looking over the fences. Skateboarding would have become little league baseball without them. The first ones to get radical and terrorize-the idea of people seeing skateboarders rolling down the street and thinking they are rowdy, and no longer grouping them with bicycle riders, exists because of DogTown. Before them it wasn't looking to go in that direction. DogTown was like Hell's Angel's for people who were too young to ride motorcycles. Now everyone knows that if you have an empty pool in your backyard people will want to skate it, but back in '76 that was inconceivable. They would break into houses, skate their pool, steal their stereo, smoke some dust and leave. Brought the outlaw aspect to skateboarding. First rebel image that the industry failed to control. Also a multicultural group of people before that was a cool thing in other sports, there were Mexicans, Asians, blacks, Jews and whites all mixed together. A documentary chronicling the DogTowners is premiering at the Sundance Film Festival this year. They also invented Frontside airs and handplants.

Narrated by Sean Penn

67/72  Dogtown was Santa Monica down to Venice beach and was a seriously run down surfer area.

Venice of America was founded by tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney in 1905 as a beach resort town, 14 miles (23 km) west of Los Angeles. He and his partner Francis Ryan had bought two miles (3.24 km) of oceanfront property south of Santa Monica in 1891. They built a resort town on the north end of the property called Ocean Park, which was soon annexed to Santa Monica. After Ryan died, Kinney and his new partners continued building south of Navy Street in the unincorporated territory. After the partnership dissolved in 1904, Kinney built on the marshy land on the south end of the property, intending to create a seaside resort like its namesake in Italy

Over time the area became difficult to manage and in 1929 the area was taken over by LA.  By the 50's though it had been so neglected that the area became know as the slum by the sea.  It did become home to a vibrant creative community of artists, poets and writers which were to become know as the Beat Generation.  In 1958 CBS built the POP, Pacific Ocean Park an amusement and pleasure pier which after two seasons changed hands then started to deteriate until 1974 when it was de,olsided.  This was the playground of the Z-boys.

The original Z-boys surfing and skateboarding shop was and is still on Main St. in Santa Monica.

After the sixties surfing was perceived as anti social and just good for drop outs. Surfers in this area were infamous for their agressive localisim and outcast behaviour.  In 1972 Skip, Jeff and Stacey opened the Jeff Ho and Zephyr Surfboard productions shop to promote revolutionary Specialist design and avoid the mass media.  Proud to be anti-mainstream.  Unique identity. Pushed the boundaries of conventional skateboard design.
Craig Stecyk 'It was personalised stuff for the user to make something that wasnt a mass media garbage piece of junk that was designed in a factory for everybody else.'

A dead wonderland

The cove was a secret surfing spot which was very dangerous due to the pier and pylons falling down into the sea.  It was a local spot where no visitors were allowed.

Skip and Jeff initially set up the Zephyr surf team.  the kids used to hang around the store and work.  They were mainy from broken homes and the store became a place to go like a club house.

Brief history of skateboarding

50's  The after surfing activity. Make your own from a board and roller skates

1963 An alternative sport which started to reach national popularity

1965  The sport crashed in wave a bad publicity and was subsequently viewed a a kiddie fad until the mid 70's.  

Revolution in 1972 in technology the clay wheels were replaced by Polyurethane wheels, Cadillac Wheels.  they initially sold the wheels to surf shops in California.

More to Follow..

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Primary research - Contacting the Zephyr Team

I wanted to know what the real trigger for the Skateboarders, specifically the Zephyr team for wearing Vans.  The First NSA competition for a number of years took place in 1975 and the Zephyr Team turned out in a uniform of Levis, Navy Vans and Zephyr tshirts however this was an orchestrated uniform planned by their management.

I have emailed/tweeted/facebook messaged as many of the Zephyr team as I can find contact details for.  So far I have had a response from Skip Engblom who was the co owner of the Zephyr surf shop along with Craig Stycek and Jeff Ho.

This is what I sent and the reply I received:

From: lwdesign
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 4:03 AM 

Subject: Vans footwear and The Zephyr team 

Hi Skip

I hope you don't mind me contacting you on this email. I would appreciate your input as primary research for my dissertation. I am a mature student studying Graphic Design at Leeds College of Art in the UK.

I am undertaking a critical analysis of Vans the brand from its authentic roots in the USA in 1966 through their association with the subcultural Zephyr skateboarders to mass consumption in the late seventies/ early eighties. Right though to the hyperreal world it now occupies; made in Vietnam but appealing to today's youth culture through its California/surfer/skater roots.

I have watched the Dogtown and Z-boys documentary and also read Skateboarding, Space and the City by Iain Borden. I have also read various interviews in Skateboarder and on Juice.

The reason for contacting you is although I know the Zephyr team started wearing a uniform of Levis, blue vans and blue t shirts for entering competitions I cant find the real trigger for Skateboarders wearing Vans or indeed the year it actually started. Was it the association with Surfing/the sea? I have found stuff about their 'usability' ie the waffle grip sole. I also notice the original Vans store is in Anaheim only 40 miles from Venice Beach. Was there some other link? Did you know anyone at Vans, for example before they started paying the team to wear the shoes after Off the Wall? Or was it pure Youth Culture happening in California at the time.... a signifier.

Any facts or ideas which you would like to contribute at this time would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards Lisa Whitaker

From: "Skip Engblom"
To: "lwdesign" 
Date: Oct 31 2012, 03:05 PM 
Subject: Re: Vans footwear and The Zephyr team 

They had a small store in Santa Monica and would make you custom shoes.Also they were very cheap to buy 

He then followed it up with a second email:

From: "Skip Engblom" 

To: "lwdesign" 
Date: Oct 31 2012, 03:22 PM 
Subject: Re: Vans footwear and The Zephyr team 

Also Steve Van Dorn worked there part of the time. 
Back then there was a lot of places that did custom things Surf trunks were not easy to get before 1967.You went to a place in Feb or March and ordered your trunks and were ready in May or June. If you went to Hawaii you made a stop at Takie in Wakkaii or H.MURIA on the north shore in Santa Monica you went to Roy,s cabana down south you went to Kustom by Katin.It was a different time and when Duke Boyd told some one he was starting a trunk company called hang ten people said it was the lamest name ever

I subsequently found this:

If you haven’t been to the Vans Santa Monica store recently, you won’t recognize it. One of Vans’ earliest stores, the 4th and Broadway location dates back to the early 70s when a young Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta and Wes Humpston stopped by to get their first waffle soles. Join them this Sunday at 1 pm to meet three skateboard legends for autographs and Vans swag. Vans Santa Monica 400 W. Broadway Santa Monica, CA 90401 310-394-1413

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Dissertation tutorial

I discussed what I had discovered about Vans in terms of its history from the 60's to present day.  My initial proposal was trying to pin down why young people buy into the brand today.
I think the key points in their history is

60's - 70's A customised brand - Made on your doorstep.   Skateboarders started wearing Vans and Vnas customised them in 76 so more hard wearing 'Off the wall'

80' Mass culture through Hollywood movie Fast times - Global brand

90's/ 2000 US American apparel owned, made in Asia, mainly Vietnam.  Brand built on USA 66 sufer dude culture.  Targeting youth culture.

Chapter structure could be:

1. 60's/70's history of brand and sub cultural theorird- Hebdidge-looking for authentic symbols

2. 80's Identity in mas culture - Adorno - Culture Industry - plugging, psedo-indivdualism, N Klein No Logo.  Hebdidge Incorporation - Crtical approach

3. Post modern - Contemorary , identity fluid, neo tribes,  Acticely consume to create meaning.
Baudrillard - Building on USA Branding made in Vietnam - Hyperality created by branding?


Complete an extended essay plan
Start drafting chapter one

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Vans in Camden London & online

Selling a lifestyle still Based on the California/surfer dream

How many different styles of Vans?  Not customised but certainly a huge range.

Online there are over 200 styles to chose from including a range called California authentic - although dont think this means they are made in USA just based on the heritage of the brand from 66

Vans & UK music festival

Vans are still very much associated with skatebaording, surfing and music.  Testament to this is their sponsorship of various UK music festivals:

NASS (not sponsored by vans in 2012)  They did sponsor individual Skaters in the Skater competition


The article that said Vans sponsored these events was 2008 since then Vans have introduced their own festival called Vans Warped tour

Complete with online store

Quite scary when you click on Vans UK and your own son (Oliver) and his friends are all their having liked Vans on Facebook..

Monday, 15 October 2012

Vans the global shoe brand


Global footwear statistics

Global Footwear Industry

The global footwear market is expected to reach $195 billion by 2015, according to research from Global Industry Analysts, with volume sales exceeding 13 billion pairs by 2012. Market growth is predicted to rebound as consumer confidence builds in the post-recession economy.

Footwear sales have been falling in developed countries and slowing in emerging countries due to lower income levels; and therefore, less spending on apparel and footwear. Consumers are focusing increasingly on value for money, looking for simple, hard-wearing shoes that last. Designer shoes have borne the brunt of this shift in consumption brought on by the economic recession. Shoe manufacturers and retailers are since forced to compete on price and value.

Market Products

  • The outdoor footwear market is driven by demand for shoes that permit easy, fast movement. Products are increasingly lightweight and offer more and more flexibility. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor footwear grew over 14% year-on-year to over $990 million for the first five-months of 2011.

  • The athletic footwear market is dominated by a few large players. The US is the largest importer of athletic footwear, mostly manufactured in Asia. Athletic shoes are used across a range of sports, including basketball, tennis and running. Brands are often associated with specific sports, for example Nike for basketball.

  • The leather footwear market includes the manufacture and retail of different types of shoes, including casual, sports and dress shoes. Leather is a common material in high-end shoes, used in many designer brands. US brands often source their leather from outside of the US, in countries such as India.

Regional Markets

China exports more shoes than any other country, producing almost 13 billion pairs, or 63% of overall production, in 2010, according to RNCOS. Domestic sales have been driven by online shopping and rising demand for specific brands. China has been faced with domestic currency appreciation, along with rising raw materials and production costs. Branded shoes are strong sellers in China, with companies popularizing their shoes with promotional practices. China’s footwear market has recorded strong growth in consumption and exports, which is likely to continue at an annual volume growth rate of 7% for the few years to come. Exports are strong because on the domestic market, Chinese people consume less than 2.5 pairs of shoes each year, whereas the Western average is far higher.

According to MarketLine, advanced emerging markets - Poland, Hungary, Brazil, South Africa, and Taiwan - will reach a combined value of almost $24,219 million in 2014, at an annually growth rate in excess of 4% over five years. Brazil’s footwear market takes the lead, generating revenues of over $9,960 million in 2009.

India’s footwear market is expected to record strong growth in the years to come, reports RNCOS. The market, which has been impacted by an increasing presence of international companies, is predicted to record close to 10% annual growth from 2011 to 2014. The market is fuelled by advantageous factors such as a skilled workforce combined with low labor costs. In production terms, India is second only to China. This market sector drives expansion in India’s leather exports.

There are not only large companies operating in the US footwear market, but also smaller independent brands, which are often acquired by large and mid-size companies. The industry is highly fragmented. In 2010, many companies diversified their product offerings, concentrating on mid-priced or economy athletic brands.

The UK footwear market has been impacted by the economic recession, with consumers cutting down on discretionary purchases. The 65 years and over demographic remains the leader in terms of customer loyalty, with a 90% loyalty score, according to Verdict. Younger consumers shop around to find bargains or try out new brands, with a loyalty score of less than 86%. Retailers are concentrating their efforts on factors such as service, convenience, and ambience, which foster consumer loyalty. Leading UK footwear retailers include Shoe Zone, Primark, Clarks, TescoVisitor, and Brantano. 

Industry Leaders

Key players on the global footwear market include Bata, Deckers, Brown Shoes, Wolverine, Weyco, ECCO, Kenneth Cole, Nine West, Timberland, Puma, Gucci, Lacrosse, Vans, San Paulo & Alpargatas, R.G. Barry, Nike and Adidas.

Market Outlook

The global footwear industry has been witnessing a decline. Moving forward, companies operating in developed markets such as the US will continue outsourcing production to cheaper countries like Indonesia, China and Vietnam.

With consumers looking for bargains due to the economic recession, the shift toward cheap imports will continue, accounting for the majority of domestic demand. The industry will see revenue continue to decline, and pricing pressures will make the market environment increasingly competitive.

Leading Industry Associations

Vans not just produced in Vietnam


Footage of Vans footwear manufacture in Vietnam.  The process is still relies on a large proportion of  manual/human labour .

Would be interesting to know the percentage split of costs/profit on a pair of vans.  I would expect Branding and promotion to be the highest proportion as most of these costs occur in Western society.

Sunday, 7 October 2012


The US Corporate behind Vans...

VF Corporation's world headquarters is located in Greensboro, North Carolina, where our senior management team is based, along with our corporate Strategy, Finance, Global Business Technology, Global Supply Chain, Law and Human Resources teams. Our unique business model supports the individuality of our lifestyle brands, each of which has their own headquarters and management team focused on their consumers and customers.

Our Outdoor-International business is headquartered in Lugano, Switzerland, as are the European-based operations of the Eastpak, Reef, Vans, Napapijri and Nautica brands. 

Production Facilities
VF's global sourcing team is based in Hong Kong. The group has approximately 1,300 associates and manages the development and sourcing of nearly 45 percent of VF's units worldwide. The Asia team focuses heavily on product development, speed-to-market and factory compliance.
VF has sourcing relationships with more than 1,000 product manufacturing facilities in Asia-Pacific region countries, including China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Pakistan and In

Where does Steve Van Doran fit into the VF Corp??  He talks like its still family owned and he wants to bring production back to USA from China (& Vietnam)

VF in China

'The freedom to be who they want to be; our brands can reflect their values..." !

The Vans® brand seeks to be the number one action sports and youth culture brand in Asia, helping consumers embrace, elevate and unlock their creative self expression. During the next five years, the Vans® brand anticipates adding $200 million to its Asia Pacific business, with a 22 percent annual growth rate. Growth is expected to come from leveraging the brand’s authenticity and deep connectivity with youth culture, focusing on its skate and music brand pillars, expanding its direct-to-consumer business and delivering locally relevant product innovation.

VF Corporation’s Fastest-Growing International Business to Reach $2.0 Billion in Revenues by 2017
SHANGHAI, China, Sept. 19, 2012 – VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC) today announced details on its goal to add $1.1 billion in revenues to its Asia Pacific business over the next five years. At an investor meeting held in Shanghai, China, the company discussed its strategic plans to reach $2.0 billion in revenues by 2017, primarily through growth from its five largest brands in the region – Timberland®, Lee®, The North Face®, Vans® and Kipling®. This represents an annual growth rate of 17 percent from 2012 forecasted revenues of approximately $900 million.
The company also confirmed its previous 2012 expectation given on July 27 for revenues in Asia to increase about 20 percent, and for revenues in Europe to grow at a low double-digit rate.
“Our Asia Pacific revenues have grown nearly five-fold since 2007 and we continue to see tremendous opportunities for growth in all our brands,” said Eric Wiseman, VF Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “That’s the power of VF’s diversified global portfolio.”
Aidan O’Meara, President, VF Asia Pacific, noted, “Our strategies for growth in Asia Pacific – winning big in China, expanding our footprint within other countries in the region, leveraging our scale and focusing on our largest brands – give us confidence in our ability to reach $2.0 billion in revenues by 2017 in this growing and dynamic market. VF has invested heavily and consistently in consumer research in China, which has helped us better understand Chinese consumers and position our brands in a way that speaks to their desires and aspirations.”
Karl Heinz Salzburger, Group President, VF International, provided a longer-term view on VF’s international mix of business. “In 2012, we expect international sales to comprise about 37 percent of VF’s total revenues. With the addition of Timberland and the continued strong growth expected in our Asia Pacific and European businesses, we now believe international revenues could account for 45 percent of total revenues by 2017.”

To be continued...

Vans history

1 March 1966:  Paul Van Doran, Jim Van Doran, Gordon Lee and Serge D'Ella formed the Van Doren Rubber Company.  the factory, office and retail outlet were all set up at 704 East Broadway in Anaheim, South California.

Paul Van Doran had worked his way up over 20 years from sweeping floors to Exec Vice President at Randy's a Boston based show manufacturer.

Paul realised that shoe manufacturers did not make much of the money, the money was all in retail.  This is why he pioneered Direct Retailing .  Started with 16 styles of deck shoes, each with a style number.  Men cost $4.49 and women cost $2.29

vintage van doren #44 authentic
brown canvas
made in usa circa 1973

In 1975, the Vans #95, known today as the Era was designed by Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta.  With a padded collar and different colour combinations the Era becomes the shoe of choice for a generation of skateboarders.
by 1975 skateboarders in southern california including the infamous zephyr surf/skate team all officially wore navy blue style #44 as uniform.
almost 10 years to the day following van's beginnings as the leader in canvas casuals, the van dorens took notice of local legends stacey peralta & tony alva's tendency to prefer customade pairs for skating. they wanted different colour combinations & were also known for buying one van at a time & often replaced the rear shoe only which copped more heat using them in turning pivots. as such, on march 18 1976 vans released the 1st ever skateboarding shoe in the archetypal style #95. the vulcanised effects of the style #44 pure crepe rubber waffle outsole, essential for skateboarding, were retained & combined with the padded collar of a style #45 & padded heel panel for greater reinforcement. last but not least it was the attitude that was missing which vans compensated for using the classic outer 'off the wall' heel counter & releasing them in 2-tone colour combinations. the blue/gold/blue & brown/beige/brown shortly followed the original blue/red/blue which became synonomous with dogtown crew & attained legendary status. the style #95 was later named the 'era' as it was this era of the late 70's which defined vans for generations.

vintage van doren style #95 era
dogtown 2tone blue/red/blue canvas
made in usa circa 1976

Well some things never change. The story from the second era is really all about Vans – what made the brand so cool?
They had no other competitors in the early days, and they definitely had good grip for skating. Originally intended as sailing or beach shoes, Vans became aware of their skate following, so they produced style #95 (designed by Tony Alva) followed by style #34, then hightops called style #38. They sponsored a lot of skateboarders and contests, and they were the first shoe company to advertise in early Skateboarder magazines. So everybody knew them. Vans also was the first company which paid a professional skateboarder to wear their shoes and so Stacey Peralta became the first to receive endorsement cheques from a shoe company. 

Circa 1978
vintage van doren syle #95 era
2-tone blue/gold/blue dogtown canvas
off the wall
made in usa circa 1978
size N/A
new in box

vintage vans style #98 slip-on
2-tone pink/black canvas
made in usa circa 1978

Checkerboard slip on
Universal Studios asked Vans for some shoes for a new film called Fast times which starred Sean Penn.  his character Jeff Spicoli , a stoned surfer dude wore the checkerboard slip ons through out the movie.

Sales went through the roof into the millions.  Vans went global. 

1989 Steve Cabellero
Steve turned professional skateboarder in 1980.  By 1989 he designed a pair of Vans Cabs - specialist skater footwear.  the half cab followed two years later after Steve strated see his full cbs being customised by Skaters.

1993 BMX

vintage vans style #95 era (re-fresh)
usa stars & stripes betsy printed canvas
uci nbl worl championship scene PQ
customade in usa 1993
new (without box)

2005 Hollywood influence again with the launch of a movie about the Zephyr who wore Blue 44.

Vintage Vans Collectables

Hollywood actress Kirsten Stewert sporting 'Vintage' Vans