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The Origins Of The Classic Shoes: Converse All Stars

Designed in 1917, the Converse All Stars, also known as Chuck Taylors, secured its spot as one of the most significant shoes in the world.  Before its influence in modern pop culture, the shoe was primarily designed to be used for playing basketball. Additionally, Converse All Stars were regarded as the official shoe of the Olympic Games between 1936 and 1968.

So how can a shoe made of soft cotton and rubber soles become such a timeless piece? Here’s the story behind one of the most iconic shoes ever made.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Legendary Chuck Taylor

Former American basketball star, Charles “Chuck” Taylor, took what he had learned on the court and applied it to a new career as a shoe salesman for Converse. Within a year after the company’s creation, Taylor took it upon himself to restyle the shoe, creating the iconic “Chuck Taylors.” In honor of his design, Converse added Taylor’s signature along with the famous all-star patch.

Taylor, however, kept his job as a shoe salesman. Traveling around the country, Taylor advertised the shoe to basketball teams in hopes to make a sale. His method of selling must have proven to be successful, as eventually, the Converse became the official shoe for the Olympic Games. The shoe even found itself in the U.S. armed forces as essential workout gear.

It was not long until the shoe was known as the number-one choice for sports events, being a staple amongst high schoolers and professional athletes alike.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Rise Of Converse

Moving towards the end of the 1960s, Converse was an unbeatable leader in the sneaker market, making up 80% of sneaker sales. Converse, starting as a shoe for the athletic elite, became a casual shoe that could be worn by anyone. This once-exclusive shoe cemented itself as one of the most utilizable shoes in recent history. 

With the classics only available in black and white, converse moved to release various designs, with a vast range of colors. The shoe also introduced different textures, like suede and leather.  

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Never-Ending Hype

As society moved into the 1970s, Converse All Stars began to lose its dominance in the sneaker market. There was greater competition as more and more shoes began to create sneakers with greater arch support. It was not very long until athletes followed suit, opting for sneakers that could better enhance their performance.  

This did not end the hype though, as Chuck Taylors soon became a symbol of the underdog. With characters like Rocky Balboa wearing Chucks in the movie Rocky or Kurt Cobain sporting the shoe for its low cost. The sneakers became a symbol of several U.S. subcultures, being worn by fancy movie stars, grunge rockstars, high school kids, and many more. 

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Nike’s Big Purchase

Although Chuck Taylors were soaring in popularity, the business itself was not doing so well. Converse filed several claims for bankruptcy, almost seeming like they could never get out of it. Until they did.

Nike Inc. bought the company for $315 million in the Autumn of 2003, revamping the business and moving towards sourcing from overseas factories. This move proved to be of benefit because soon after production, costs had a significant decrease while profits began to soar.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A True Cultural Icon

Even today, the shoe remains insanely popular with most people owning at least one pair in their lifetime. In 2017, the shoe was ranked as the second highest-selling sneaker in the U.S., further proving its foothold in American society. The shoe has become a cult classic and has truly made an impact as a true cultural icon in fashion.

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