The memoir of a high school dropout who went on to establish one of the world’s most iconic brands

about the book

Authentic is a surprisingly candid, compelling memoir by a high school dropout who went on to establish one of the world's most iconic brands

Now in this refreshingly candid memoir, meet Paul Van Doren, the charismatic founder of Vans—the shoe company beloved by skateboarders, creatives, and fans everywhere for its laid-back, colorful SoCal vibe, and famous for its people-oriented company culture.

In Authentic, he shares his unlikely journey from high-school dropout to sneaker-industry legend. A blue-collar kid with no higher education and zero retail experience, Van Doren started out as a 16-year-old “service boy” at a local rubber factory.


Advance Praise

Tony Alva

Skateboarding legend, entrepreneur, musician
“Paul is an inspiration. He’s proof of the American dream. A mentor and fearless leader, and last but not least, the father we all love and respect.”

Stacy Peralta

Renowned skateboarder and surfer, filmmaker, entrepreneur

“Paul is a true visionary in the world of athletic shoes.  He saw very early on, before anyone else, that the youth culture of this world was beginning to turn…”

Steve Caballero

Creator of The Caballero, Vans’ first signature skateboarding shoe

“Paul created a brand that has lasted decades because of integrity, devotion, passion, and trust. When I say trust, I mean that he believed in the people…”

Geoff Rowley

Professional skateboarder, Vans Signature footwear athlete since 1999, 2000 Thrasher Skater of the Year, entrepreneur

“Paul Van Doren: The #1 supporter of Skateboard Footwear. The American Dream personified. The Original.”

paul van doren

Van Doren is not just an entrepreneur, he’s an innovator. In 1966, when the first House of Vans store opened, there were no stand-alone retail stores just for sneakers.

Paul’s bold experiments in product design, distribution, and marketing (Why not sell custom shoes? Single shoes?), aided by legions of fans— skateboarders, surfers, even Sean Penn wearing Vans’ famous checkerboard slip-on shoe in the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High—made Vans a household name. But there was also back-breaking work, a shocking bankruptcy, family turmoil, and a profound shift in how customers think about athletic shoes. 

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