Converse shoes are a symbol of popular culture, worn by generations of people since their inception over 100 years ago. From their origin as basketball shoes with their adoption by celebrities and their integration into street culture, Converse have become a staple of fashion. In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating history of Converse shoes, from their inception in 1908 to their iconic place in popular culture today.
The beginnings of Converse
The Converse Rubber Shoe Company was founded in 1908 by Marquis Mills Converse in Malden, Massachusetts. Initially, the company produced rubber shoes for men, women and children, but quickly evolved to focus on sports shoes. In 1915 the company began producing footwear for tennis, football and basketball players.
The arrival of the All Star
In 1917, the Converse Rubber Shoe Company introduced the all star basketball shoe, which would go on to become one of the most iconic athletic shoes of all time. Initially, the All-Star used to be a canvas shoe with a rubber sole, but evolved to include a leather upper and laces, about that, if you’re hesitant, here’s how to lace up converse. The shoe was also lighter than previous basketball shoes which made it easier for players to move around the court.
Over the years, the All Star has been worn by professional and college basketball players, which has contributed to its popularity. In 1921, basketball player Chuck Taylor joined Converse as a salesman and began promoting the All Star on his basketball demo tours. Taylor also worked with Converse to improve the design of the shoe, adding a thicker sole for more comfort and support.
The era of popular culture
In the 1950s and 1960s, the All Star began to be worn by celebrities and musicians, contributing to its adoption by street culture. James Dean, Elvis Presley and the Ramones were all fans of the shoe, which was seen as a symbol of youth and rebellion. Over the years, the All Star has become a fixture of popular culture, appearing in movies, TV shows, music videos and are so inescapable and distinctive that many people even seek how to customize a pair of converse.
Acquisition by Nike
In 2003, Converse filed for bankruptcy and was acquired by Nike for $305 million. Nike then relaunched the brand, focusing on selling fashion footwear rather than sport shoes. However, Nike also continued to produce Converse sneakers, especially the All Star, maintaining its classic design.
The takeover by Nike brought several advantages to Converse. First, Converse was able to benefit from Nike’s expertise in large-scale shoe production and distribution. Nike has also helped Converse develop collaborations with fashion brands and other companies to create special edition Converse shoes.
However, some fans of the brand criticized Converse’s takeover by Nike, arguing that Nike had diluted the essence of the brand by turning it into a fashion shoe brand rather than an athletic shoe brand. Others pointed out that the takeover by a big company like Nike helped Converse stay competitive in an increasingly competitive market.
Despite the criticism, it’s clear that the acquisition by Nike has allowed Converse to continue to thrive as a iconic shoe brand. Converse has since introduced new athletic shoe designs, such as the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II and the Converse Chuck 70while continuing to offer classic fashion shoes such as the All Star.
Over the years, Converse has collaborated with many brands and artists, creating special editions of the All Star and other shoes. In 2004, Converse collaborated with Japanese streetwear brand Comme des Garçons to create a collection of All Star shoes in black canvas with hand-drawn white hearts. Since then, Converse has collaborated with many other brands, including Maison Margiela, Carhartt, and Off-White.
The future of Converse
Today, Converse continues to be an iconic footwear brand, offering a diverse line of athletic and fashion shoes for men, women and children. The All Star remains one of the most popular models, with special editions and collaborations continuing to be released regularly. In 2020, Converse launched its Renew line, which uses recycled materials to reduce the environmental impact of shoe production.
In conclusion, the history of Converse shoes is fascinating, from their origin as athletic shoes to their adoption by street culture and their integration into fashion and popular culture. With exciting collaborations and a diverse footwear lineup, it’s clear that Converse will remain an iconic footwear brand for years to come.