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Vans Skateboarding at 52 Year Old

Last weekend was Van’s 52ndBirthday. It’s probably the skateboard brand that’s closest to my heart. I got my first skateboard a couple of years after the Vans Co was founded and I bought my first new pair of Vans for £7 ten years later.

We all used to buy our skateboarding gear from a guy called Phil Lobatto who was one of the first guys to go to the USA make contact with all the key players and then import all the gear for us.

Here’s a little Vans history.

In 1977 the #36 Old Skool design was produced based on a quick sketch by Paul Van Doren. I’m guessing the stripe was a graphic representation of a skater’s motion from A to B. The #36 design was the first with leather panels for added strength. The very next year I went to skate in Paris wearing this new Vans design. Back then we used to buy two pairs and wear unmatching colours as you can see in this photo of me in the Paris skatepark. On one of the days we were there Jeremy Henderson arrived which was pretty cool except he slammed it and broke his arm in the half pipe.

My first Vans were the #95 Era style, probably the most copied and most iconic of all Vans. The #95 was designed by Stacy Peralta and Tony Alva who are both contemporaries of mine. (In fact Tony has said he likes my T-shirts which is pretty cool). 

In late ’78 Vans introduced the Sk8-Hi #38 we called them high tops. The idea was to provide more support and protection for the ankle. I never wore these, instead I had Vans ankle guards, yes Vans made little ankle guards, a skateboard crashing into your exposed ankle was very painful indeed.

The rest is history, 52 years in the making. Here’s the full timeline.

Here’s Vans in Paris 40 years after me.

To have a range of VOS trainers is still a pipe dream. In the meantime you’ll have to make do with some T-shirts.

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Dogtown skateboard legend Tony Alva Video

dogtown skateboarding usa retro vintage

I love this old film because it was when I started skateboarding. We’ve all heard of Tony Alva right? Well if you haven’t he was one of the key members of the world famous Dogtown skateboarders from Santa Monica California good old USA. And he was a member of the pioneering skate team the Zephyr Skateboard Team which had 12 members. Here’s a photo of them with Tony on the far right and the late Shogo Kubo who I skated with in 1978 on the far left, he also signed my Dogtown T-shirt.

santa monica Zephyr skateboard team dogtown

When Tony came to the Vans event in London in 2011 he saw someone wearing one of my T-shirts and he said ‘Hey man that’s a cool T-shirt’ which is actually cool. I met Tony in Soho and he signed an A3 poster of himself for me which I will be giving away in a competition this summer.

Tony Alva Dogtown Skateboarder USA