From 2008 to 2016, Vans tripled its revenue from $750 million to 2.3 billion, an unprecedented figure even within the sneaker industry. Now, the multi-billion dollar entity is not only the predominant force in skate culture but a major player in sportswear worldwide. Although Vans currently boasts mounting profits, the California sneaker brand has far from a smooth history. The company has filed for bankruptcy, closed factories and changed ownership multiple times in its 55-year history. In many ways, at least up until recently, Vans has survived in spite of itself. Despite questionable business choices and many failed ventures, due to a cult loyal following—and significant help from a slew of iconic skaters—the brand transformed from a casual footwear manufacturer into a symbol of American counterculture and independence.

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