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The History of Converse

The History of Converse

Written by Amanda Vlavianos

I love shoes. I love them so much that I have to actively stop myself from buying new pairs (that ‘Add To Cart button’ is just so easy to click!) We all have our favourites and our staple shoes. As of late, I’ve been shifting my style from stilettos to sneakers for comfort, which got me thinking about a certain sneaker brand we all know: Converse.

An easily identifiable footwear brand that has stood the test of time – and actively worn today by the likes of celebrities, politicians and everyday peeps alike. ​Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, baby! ​The Converse sneaker design was initially built off the idea of utilizing a soft canvas with a loose lining meant to allow for agility on the basketball court without subsequent blisters. Chuck Taylor, an American basketball star, became a salesman for the Converse brand in 1921, improving design and promoting the shoe across the nation. Taylor’s signature was added to the ankle patch in representation of his endorsement, and thus the shoe became Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers, considered to be the very first celebrity-endorsed shoe. Was Chuck Taylor the world’s first brand ambassador?! If Instagram was around in the 1920s, Chuck Taylor’s page would have been poppin.

The design of the Chuck Taylor All Star has remained largely unchanged since its introduction in the 1920s. The five-pointed star logo remains on the ankle patch of the high-top style, and the base material remains a comfortable canvas. Chuck Taylor All Stars have come a long way in the past 100 years. Falling out of style during the rise of Nike in the 1970s, the shoe regained popularity in the 80s and 90s, particularly in grunge rock musicians like Kurt Cobain and the Ramones and artists like Andy Warhol, who allegedly silkscreened his own pair. The brand even released a Warhol-inspired collection in 2014 to pay tribute to the artist, including the iconic Campbell’s soup cans.

Just as the shift from athletic sneaker to casual footwear did not sway the design, historically, the shoe has remained an iconic representation of authenticity. The classic look, identifiable for the better part of a century, has been appreciated by athletes, celebrities and fashion lovers alike. Besides being known for an athletic sneaker, the shoe has been worn by the likes of Elvis and James Dean, and in movies like Grease and Back To The Future. In recent years, we’ve seen Bella Hadid, Julia Roberts, Katie Holmes, Millie Bobby Brown and even Kamala Harris (America’s newest elected VP!) rocking their Chucks.

The world has seen Converse collaborate with major brands like Gap, Missoni, Comme des Garçons and Maison Margiela; and on the other end of the spectrum, also with Nintendo and The Simpsons. Elevating the image of the brand in a variety of collaborations has clearly appealed to Chuck customers; the company sells over 270,000 pairs of sneakers a day! On future collaborations, Converse CMO Julien Cahn has said, “We want to work with people that are, I prefer the word daring to rebellious, that’s super important to us. We want to be with people that other brands would rather not play with because they might be a little bit too dangerous or unsafe or unpredictable. We like that.”

Today, the Chuck Taylor All Star is seen as a comfort shoe, and a true icon of style and authenticity. Found in a slew of quotes about the famous footwear, we like Senator Kamala Harris’ statement the best – she has summed up her unique choice of shoes in one encompassing sentence, “It’s either Chucks or heels… Always has been.”


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