Like the Wayfarer by Ray-Ban, the Kangol beret, and the Tiffany heart charm, the most iconic brands have a trademark piece that is recognizable and makes a statement about who they are. Converse and Vans, two of the most iconic footwear brands in the world, each have a proud American heritage and manage to remain relevant today.
When the Van Doren Rubber Company opened in Anaheim, California, they cornered a unique market of customers who wanted cool shoes that were made just for them. 12 customers purchased Vans #44 deck shoes on the first day that Vans opened on March 16th, 1966, all of which were made that day and available for pickup that very afternoon. Featuring a sticky sole perfect for skateboarding, Vans slip-on shoes became a common staple of the Southern California scene in the 1970s and beyond. Vans continued to grow, reaching more athletes with shoes designed for a larger array of sports and garnering more fans nationwide with an appearance on Sean Penn's feet in the iconic teen movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."
In 1908, Marquis Mills Converse started a rubber company which would deliver directly to retailers. Although they produced tires, their association with the young sport of basketball would garner them the fame they know today. Invented by Canadian physical education instructor James Naismith in 1891, the rules and tools of basketball were still evolving when basketball enthusiast Chuck Taylor joined the company in 1918. During the Second World War, Converse also expanded to produce footwear, apparel, boots for pilots and army servicemen, parkas, rubber protective suits, and ponchos. During the birth of rock and roll, the high top sneaker was part of the uniform. This also coincided with the birth of the National Basketball Association, giving the Converse high top a good portion of the spotlight. Converse would remain coveted by rockers, skaters, and wannabes due to its innovations in design during the late 60s and most of the 70s. Converse basketball shoes dominated the basketball courts during the 80s and 90s and were worn by the sport's most prominent players.
From the basketball court to the beach, both Vans and Converse shoes appear hip while being totally comfortable and wearable. Participate and vote for your favorite on the National Survey Panel website and receive a $1,000 check to help you round out your shoe collection.
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- United States