11/07/2011 04:49 pm ET | Updated Jan 07, 2012

James Van Doren, Co-Creator Of Vans Shoes, Dies At 72 (PHOTOS)

The co-creator and co-founder of the iconic Vans shoe, James Van Doren, has passed away at age 72 after a long battle with cancer, according to the AP.

Van Doren and his brother James developed Vans, the world's first "skateboard shoe," which they designed with a rubber sole. Van Doren used his mechanics and chemistry background to create the intricate gripping pattern of the sole that became a groundbreaking revelation for skateboarders.

Within no time at all, the classic Vans sneaker gained the attention of cool kids everywhere, not just the skateboarders. In the laid back southern California skateboarding era of the 60s and 70s, Vans grew from a tiny street trend to a full-fledged phenomenon that swept across the nation.

In 1982, Sean Penn wore the distinctive checkerboard Vans shoes in his breakout role in "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" as the bad boy stoner Jeff Spicoli, after which "The checkerboard pattern skyrocketed after that," says James' brother and co-creator Char Van Doren.

Since then, the legendary canvas skateboard shoe has been a youth driven staple item in almost every teenager's wardrobe. Van Doren's contributions to Vans will be greatly missed by all.

Check out these celebs who attempt to pull off Vans outside of the skate park.


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