Skate shoes from Vans, one of VF's growth brands.


GOLDEN YEAR: Vans in 2004, the year VF Corp. paid $396 million for it, mostly operated in California. Today that business is global so it would seem only fitting that, to begin a year-long celebration for its 50th birthday, the company is launching festivities in various spots around the world beginning March 16.

Cause for celebration would also seem appropriate with Vans, based out of Cypress, Calif., ending last year with revenue up 7 percent to $2.2 billion. It’s about a year early on a goal revealed in 2012 to get to $2.2 billion by the end of 2016.

The start of the birthday festivities is centered at the House of Vans event and skate-park spaces in Brooklyn, N.Y., and London. The company is expanding the House of Vans concept with pop-ups in Austin, Tex.; Toronto; Mexico City; London; São Paulo; Hong Kong; Seoul; Cape Town and Kuala Lumpur. Entertainment will vary by location but will include performances from Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, The Kills and Erykah Badu. March 16 will also be the launch a new ad campaign for the company.

That the brand has not brought the House of Vans concept to where it was founded is something that’s been considered, according to Doug Palladini, Vans vice president and general manager for North America. “It’s certainly something we discussed,” he said. “We started in Anaheim [Calif.] in 1966 so having something permanent near our original home is something interesting to us.”

Thousands of events around the anniversary are scheduled throughout the year following the initial events, Palladini continued. Those could range from more grassroots efforts, such as cofounder Steve Van Doren — whose father is one of the company’s cofounders — doing a barbecue for a local skate shop to larger events the brand is associated with, Palladini added. Those include the Vans Warped Tour and Vans U.S. Open of Surfing.

The company’s marketing team of more than 100 at headquarters does most of its work in-house.

The birthday celebration will cap off with the company’s move — which will involve about 500 employees — to new global headquarters early next year in Costa Mesa, Calif. The new digs represent the first time Vans acquired its own building and places it near the South Coast Collection — or SOCO — design and artisan food-themed shopping center as well as Hyundai’s U.S. headquarters.

“The really cool thing about that is Vans has never had a proper global headquarters that we could call our own,” Palladini said. “We’ve always had a leased building attached to the side of a factory or attached to a distribution center or what we have right now, which is multiple buildings where we’re walking back and forth. We have people visiting Vans [headquarters] from all over the world and we want to pay off their loyalty by having them feel the brand. We’re finally able to do that after 50 years so it seems like it’s fitting.”

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