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Readers share 'Vanecdotes' about that checkerboard slip-on

June 2, 2009 |  5:18 pm

My recent piece "Vans shoes: a happily checkered past" prompted a couple of readers to share their own anecdotes about the storied checkerboard slip-on.

The first letter was from Steve Coe, the owner/designer of L.A.-based T-shirt line Worn Free, who passed along the story told to him by director John Hickie who ran across the shoes in a somewhat unexpected place. Here's part of his e-mail:

"Just a quick note to let you know I really enjoyed your story on Vans. I heard a great story from my friend who directed [Discovery Channel's] "Future Weapons." He had to film on the USS Texas submarine -- the first of the new Virginia class of subs -- for a week, and all of the guys on the submarine were wearing checkered Vans.
It turns out they can choose their own footwear on subs -- it's the only part that's non-uniform and they all pick the same shoes to wear. ... According to John, they are the perfect sub shoe because they are comfortable and quiet and sonar can pick up shoe noises ."

The second e-mail was from Barry Aronoff of Pasadena:

"On May 9, those very same shoes played an important part at my daughter Nancy's wedding. For some time, I was one of a very few who knew that the groom Jonathan Sacks (an otherwise fine, upstanding lad) planned to wear those very same shoes rather than more traditional tuxedo shoes.
I, among others, was betting that he would be overruled by his mother when he appeared with them, but happily I was wrong.
In any event, to memorialize the day, here's a shot taken ... Thanks again for a very timely article. Continued best of luck."

 I also realize that in my zeal to get to Alaska for the battle of the beards, I'd neglected to post the photo I'd taken of the barbecue-grill slip-ons I'd seen in Steve Van Doren's office during a tour of Vans HQ. I'm told these smokin' shoes were painted for Van Doren by his friend and former company employee Pat Conlon. They are a nod to the fact that Van Doren -- son of brand co-founder Paul Van Doren -- can usually be found manning the grill at Vans events.

Do you have "Vanecdotes" to share? If so, we'd love to hear them.

-- Adam Tschorn

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Photo: (top) Bride Nancy Aronoff dances with Vans-clad groom Jonathan Sacks at their May 9 wedding. Credit: Paula Guiney/Guiney Portraits and (bottom) Van Doren's custom-painted grill Vans. Credit: Adam Tschorn.