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Pour One Out for James Van Doren, the Man Who Created Vans

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Photo by Jpfmack via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr
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James Van Doren, the man who accidentally started a skater phenomenon when he created Vans shoes, died at his home in Fullerton last month after a long fight with cancer.

Van Doren hailed from New England, and he was the chemist and designer behind the popular shoes. The soles that stick to pitching decks were meant for mariners, according to the New York Times, but when the company moved to Orange County, a younger generation of West Coast skaters quickly figured out that the soles had the right grip for perfecting an ollie. Sean Penn's character Jeff Spicoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" wore checkered Vans and the rest was history.

That is until the Fast Times fad wore off and foreign knock-offs flooded the market. Vans declared bankruptcy in 1984, Van Doren was ousted and the company was sold off (and changed hands too many times to count after that). So pour one out to the guy who invented Vans (but not the Warped Tour).