April 1, 2008 – Half the history of Converse is about basketball, and the other half is about all the ways a plain sneaker has become ingrained in popular culture.
Given that Converse are (after all) the most popular sneaker of all time, the occasion of the company’s 100th birthday is indeed cause for celebration. For a century, Converse have adorned the feet of basketball players, rock stars, skateboarders, and just plain folks.
To celebrate 100 years in the footwear game, Converse has created a marketing campaign called “Connectivity” which links cultural heroes like James Dean, Hunter S. Thompson, and Sid Viscious with today’s influentials like Joan Jett, M.I.A, Billie Joe Armstrong, Common, Dwyane Wade, and singer Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s.
Back in 1907, Converse started with a basketball-inspired bang. The All Star was released ten years later and quickly reached icon status. Fast forward through decades of trend marketing and the co-opting of anticonformity, and people who wear Chucks still exude a certain rebellious vibe.
It is perhaps the neatest trick in footwear history, and who would have thought it, when Marquis Mills Converse first started making simple, rubber-soled boots and work shoes at a New England factory a century ago?
What’s special about Converse?
- First and foremost, Converse are comfortable. They’re also all-American, lightweight and come in trendy colors. Another special quality is their ability to transcend cultures; they appeal to punks, rebels, athletes, and kids.
- Chucks have stuck to their roots among the throngs of air-soled, gel-filled, loud, and heavy shoes. And while other prices have risen, Converse is still a relatively inexpensive brand. They used to sell for about $10 per pair but now they’re only up to around $35.
- They’re authentic. The original Celtic Charles H. “Chuck” Taylor (yep, unaware fans, “Chuck” was a real dude) donned his first All Stars in 1918
- A few more things that make Converse shoes–especially All-Stars–better than the rest:
—The toe guard–that big piece of rubber at the end of the shoe, looks trendy and at the same time protects your feet!
—They’re fun and easy to lace up. You can do it in a variety of ways, with all colors of fat shoelaces.
—There are dozens of models and color combinations available, from the classic black high top to the latest print patten or rolldown.
More details about the life and the influence of Chuck Taylor can be found in the book “Chuck Taylor, All Star” or Chucks!: The Phenomenon of Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars.
What kind of Converse do you wear?