Converse All Star “Chuck Taylor” Basketball shoes have never really been known for updates or redesigns.
The birth of an All American Classic
In 1917, the Converse Rubber Corp. created its very first rubber soled basketball shoe. The Converse All Stars were originally produced in a natural brown color with black trim.
By the 1920s, the company started producing their, now famous, basketball shoes in all black canvas or leather versions. At the time, the shoes were the first basketball shoes to be mass produced in North America.
The Converse All Stars consisted of a very thick rubber sole. The canvas shoes were high tops, meaning the same as today, the shoe came to the top of the ankle to not only support the foot, but also the ankle from weakening under the pressure of jump shots and quick reverse movements. Originally, sales were slow, however, this was about to dramatically change forever.
Introduction of the Chuck Taylors
Basketball shoe sales would rapidly increase for Converse when they introduced their extremely successful Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, the first athlete endorsed basketball shoe.
Basketball great Charles “Chuck” Taylor
Chuck Taylor was a basketball player for the Akron Firestones. When he first saw the basketball shoes he immediately liked what he saw, and immediately saw potential in the specifically designed shoes and their potential benefit to the game of basketball.
Taylor believed in the shoe so much that in 1921 he joined the Converse sales force, later becoming the player / coach for the company’s industrial league basketball team, the Converse All-Stars.
Throughout his career with Converse, Taylor would travel the United States to host basketball clinics, promoting the All Star Shoe. Because of his great success promoting the basketball shoes, Converse decided to change the name of the shoes from the Converse All Stars to the Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars by adding the now famous ankle patch in 1932. As they say, at that time, “A star was born.”
The classic red, white and blue model
The first, and now classic white shoe model, sporting a red and a blue line on the sole, with the addition of the Chuck Taylor ankle patch, was introduced at the 1936 Olympic games.
It didn’t take long for the shoes to be a huge hit with basketball teams and young American boys all over the country.
A patriot shares our patriotic past time
During World War II, Chuck Taylor served in the Air Force as a captain while coaching extremely important,moral boosting basketball games for his fellow troops. The All Stars were right their, going off to serve their country as well, on the feet of GI’s while they did their exercises in the patriotic red, white and blue models.
The low cut model is introduced
I guess you could say that Converse believed in the saying “Don’t mess with a classic” because it took 40 years until they made a major change in the style of their extremely popular and classic shoe.
In 1957, the low cut All Star was introduced to handle the needs of sports other than basketball. The low cut model became very popular as a more casual alternative to the high top. When the alternative athletic shoe hit the market, Converse enjoyed an 80% share of the complete athletic shoe market. This has never again been the case for any other athletic shoe manufacturer.
The Ambassador of Basketball
Because of his unwavering and energetic promotion of the sport, Chuck Taylor was called the “Ambassador to Basketball” and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1968. However, unfortunately the sport lost its tireless promoter only one year later. To basketball players and fans Chuck Taylor may be gone, but he will never be forgotten for his many contributions to the sport, helping to shape what it has become today.
Passed up by the competition
Even a classic will eventually need to update and redesign their product or risk becoming outdated and passed up by the newest thing in the not to distant future. For years, the converse All Star had no worries. With a huge slice of the market, they were the only game in town.
As with anything else, the competition soon passed them by and for years they either couldn’t gain the traction to regain their place in the athletic shoe market or they remained comfortable in the belief that sport shoe buyers would come back around and realize they were still the original and the only game in town.
The Converse All Star has always had one thing going for it over the years. Their athletic shoes seem to have always remained every generation’s choice for a cool retro style.
It is a fact, 66% of all Americans either own or have owned a pair of Converse athletic shoes at one point in their lives. That is a very impressive achievement and a very welcome achievement for any product on the market.
Modernization and improvement
Converse seemed to finally realize they needed to do something and fast. The shoe company began rethinking and creating new offerings in athletic shoes and recently have started looking like the winner they have been for over a century of athletic shoe manufacturing.
The Converse Wedge
Creating new colors, new designs and improving the performance of their athletic shoe offering, Converse is winning new customers and a new generation of sneaker connoisseurs.
Even coming out with their own version of an athletic wedge sneaker which itself has become popular, Converse is showing itself to be the winner we always knew it was.
Converse has had over a century of innovation in the design of performance athletic shoes from their beginning so many years ago. It hasn’t been an easy road to travel and the company has put up with its fair share of challenges.
The Converse All Star is expected to remain a classic for future generations. No matter what the latest trend or newest fashion, a pair of Converse will always be a must have for anyone’s wardrobe.
However, one thing remains true, no matter what the challenge is, Converse has always been up for it and will continue to come out a fighter.