Converse: Still Running the Sneaker Game over 100 Years Later


Alexis Simmons, Guest Writer

In 1908, the great Marquis Mills Converse founded the Converse Rubber Shoe Company in Malden, Massachusetts. I think it’s safe to say that this was the start of something great though it wasn’t until 1917 that the legendary “All Star” was created. This was Converse’s successful attempt to run the basketball shoe market, and in 1921 the Signature All Star Patch was added. When Charles “Chuck” Taylor complained to Converse about having sore feet, he then became a salesman for the company, and in 1932 his signature was added to the All Star Patch. I think Converse made history when they customized shoes for the first all-African American professional team the New York Renaissance. In the 60’s, Converse All-Starts were worn by 90 percent of college and professional Basketball Players. Converse was the first leading shoe for the NBA until about 1970 when heavy competitors such as Nike came along and took over the basketball shoe game. Although Converse was no longer “the basketball shoe,” they later regained their status and popularity back in the 80’s as a casual shoe. After that, Converse began to slowly fall down, and lose popularity in the 1990’s due to rising competitors. In 2001, Converse had to file for bankruptcy. However, in 2003, Nike purchased Converse for $309 million. By 2010, Converse regained popularity and is a leading shoe brand along with other popular brands.¹

Fun Fact: The first USA Olympic team all wore Converse.

Enough with the history and facts, let me tell you why Converse is still to this day a great shoe after over 100 years.  Converse is what you can call a true American Shoe. The basic design of the Chuck Taylor All-Star hasn’t changed since 1949. What other shoe do you know that hasn’t changed in over 60 years and can still be fashionably worn today? Though the basic structure of the shoe hasn’t changed, the design of the shoe surely has changed a lot. Since the classic black and white Converse, Converse introduced colored canvas All-Stars in 1971, and since then they have only gotten more creative. Glow in the dark Chucks were introduced in 1988, Camouflage Chucks were introduced in 1983, the White Chucks were introduced in 1936, and Converse continues to create more designs such as: cartoon themed shoes, comic theme shoes, country themed shoes, etc. So, whether you’re with DC or Marvel, The Simpsons or Dr. Seuss, the U.S or the U.K, Converse has a shoe for you. Although Converse did it best, many other popular shoe brands made leather or suede shoes; however, what other shoe brand has made a shoe completely out of rubber, and mostly of cotton. Converse is the most creative and innovative shoe brand there is today. While other competitors such as the overrated Jordan brand tend to just re-market retired shoes, the great Converse brand can continue to sell vintage shoes, while at the same time making new ones, and still remain successful).

Design Fact: Converse was manufactured only in the US up until 2003 when Nike bought the company.

I know I was able to make my point with design, but now it’s time to talk about convenience and versatility. The Converse shoe is so interchangeable that you can wear them from the Boardroom, all the way down to the Club. Many celebrities are also spotted sporting Converse on the red carpet. Because Converse are so classic you can wear them with literally just about anything. People are often seen wearing Converse to prom with either a suit, or a dress. Other people are often seen wearing them with some sweats. Literally, you can wear Converse any day, any time, trust me, I do it all the time. The classic cotton converse shoe may not be the best shoe in all weather, such as rain, snow, or just cold weather. I’ve been there and done that… never again. But, there’s no need to worry, Converse always has something chucked up their sleeves. (No pun intended) My all-time favorite has to be the Chuck Taylor All Star Rubber. If this wasn’t the smartest, best, and greatest shoe ever created, then I don’t what is.  This shoe was “crafted for the fall with a water resistant rubber upper and French terry lining for comfort and warmth.” They even removed the signature eyelet vents from the side to keep the feet from getting wet. The shoe keeps your feet from getting wet without damaging the outer appearance of the shoe. Sure, they have rain boots for this exact reason, but those are ugly, and plus what’s cooler than rain sneakers? Nothing, nothing at all. They also have shoes for all types of elements and seasons, such as the Converse boot. One version of this shoe is “constructed of leather with a thinsulate insulation and soft cotton lining, keeping your feet warm and comfortable during the cold winter months.” The thicker rubber tread is also designed to keep you on your feet whenever ice comes your way. You’re always safe in these wonderful shoes. Who knew that they’d be so convenient and versatile? Me, I knew, I mean, they are All-Stars what did you expect? (Pun was intended there).

Converse is the O.G American shoe.

Converse is a shoe created over 100 years ago and still reigns today. Converse is rated number four of the ten most popular shoe brands in the world; however, according to me, Converse is rated number one, but to each his own. Whether you like Converse or not (you should after having read this), I think it’s reasonable to admit that Converse is one of the most original, creative, innovative, and recognizable shoe brands to this day.