Steve Van Doren discusses the end of an era as Vans Warped Tour winds down

After 24 years, Vans is saying goodbye to Warped but still engaged in youth culture.

Last week, news dropped that the Vans Warped Tour would be coming to an end -- 2018 is slated to be the last year of the youth-driven music festival that has been a staple in the space, helping break many alt and punk rock bands ranging from Bad Religion to No Doubt and Blink-182.

steve van doren warped tour

Steve Van Doren sound check at a recent Warped Tour stop. Photo: Vans

Vans has been a driving force behind the tour since its early years, coming on as an official sponsor in 1995, just one year after its inception.

For Steve Van Doren, the news is bitter sweet. It’s the end of an era -- one that played a clear role in elevating the brand in the eyes of youth across the country.

The memories run deep, and while it’s sad to shutter the tour, Van Doren says he looks forward to continuing to celebrate what it represented for thousands of fans. The crew is planning a special commemoration for what would be the tour’s 25th year in 2019.

We caught up with Vans’ VP for his perspective on the decision, the role the Warped Tour has played for the brand and for him personally and what the future holds.

steve van doren warped tour

Inside the crowd at Warped. Photo: Vans

Steve, you mentioned that you’d dedicated nearly half your life to this. Twenty four years is a long time for an event to run – what does that say about the staying power of an event like Warped?

SVD: It shows that when Vans gets involved in something that we love and are passionate about, we continue doing it. The Vans Warped Tour worked so well because it helped us stay connected with the youth and music lovers. Kevin Lyman is the heart and soul of the Vans Warped Tour and a beloved member of the Vans family.

Because of the hard work and dedication from him and his crew, Vans was able to bring music and action sports to youth across the globe for over two decades.

steve van doren warped tour

What are your thoughts and emotions when you think about 2018 being the last year this will run?

It's sad to see the end of a great era and I will miss the big family that was created on the tour over the past 23 years. There will be a lot of emotions going into 2018, but I am also excited to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the tour in a special way in 2019.

steve van doren warped tour

Ryan Key of Yellowcard, one of the many bands that grew its career around Warped. Photo: Vans

What has the event personally meant to you?

Being part of the Vans Warped Tour for over 20 years has been an incredible experience and I've made awesome memories that will last a lifetime. My daughter, Kristy Van Doren, was 16 when the Vans Warped Tour started and she traveled alongside me for the first 17 years of the tour.

These years working together and touring the U.S and the world are priceless. I have worked hard on countless events and the two months of Vans Warped Tour definitely tested my endurance, but it always became my most satisfying and favorite memories year after year.

steve van doren warped tour

Hardcore band Emarosa signing at the Vans tent. Photo: Vans

What did it represent for Vans? How has the event -- and music in general -- directly impacted the brand’s evolution?

The Warped Tour gave Vans the tool to unite the brand with musicians and the youth. The Vans crew, Kevin and I spent many days on the road meeting our consumers, shaking hands and firing up the grill. I believe this is a key part of how Vans has maintained its authenticity among youth culture for over 50 years. I personally got to talk to thousands of Vans Warped Tour attendees every day when they came by the Vans booth for stickers, poster signings or to see the giant inflatable tour schedule. Plus, Kevin's vision to see a great number of cities each year was perfect for Vans, it helped the brand plant roots in places we hadn't been before.

steve van doren warped tour

Jess Bowen of The Summer Set. Photo: Vans

Do you see Vans immediately replacing this with another large music-focused event to fill the gap? There really isn’t anything else out there like this, is there?

There will never be another tour that will compare to the Vans Warped Tour. Kevin and I saw nearly 50 cities every year for over 20 years, launching so many new bands that may not have been given a chance to be seen. There is truly nothing like it.

steve van doren warped tour

The main stages at a recent Warped Tour stop. Photo: Vans

What are your thoughts on the state of the music industry and the youth market at this time? What do you think the future holds?

We've been lucky that the Warped Tour has provided Vans the opportunity to reach thousands of consumers that share the same passions as Vans over the last two decades. Since its inception, the industry has evolved so much and we have been able to learn a ton by meeting with Vans and music fans across the globe.

We are excited to continue supporting youth culture and enabling creativity as we expand House of Vans worldwide. The tour will never be replaced but for Vans, we are going to continue to enable creative expression and support up-and-coming artists by expanding House of Vans pop-up locations. around the world.

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