Converse sneakers

I feel like writing about something sporty (it must be the effects of the London Olympics and Paralympics). So I thought I would write about the hugely popular Converse All Star sneaker. It seems as if anyone under the age of 30 either owns a pair or is wearing a pair. This style is known by many names – Cons, Chucks, Chuck Taylors, Converse All-Stars.

This Converse All-Star design is fun and cheerful. This pair is made in Vietnam (Photo by Sarah Naylor).

Converse is an American shoe company founded in Massachusetts by Marquis Mills Converse in 1908. Its most famous shoe is the Converse All-Star basketball shoe that first came out in 1917. It is a canvas shoe with rubber soles meant to be an elite shoe for professional basketballers.

In 1921, a basketball player named Charles ‘Chuck’ Taylor started working for the Converse company. Chuck Taylor helped improve the design of the shoe and introduced a patch to protect the ankle. In 1923, Converse added Chuck Taylor’s name to the patch and the shoe became known as the Chuck Taylor All-Stars. This is still the signature design for Converse now – a canvas shoe with a round patch at the ankle, a blue star and Chuck Taylor’s name on the patch, with white rubber soles that say ‘All-Star’ at the back, and a diamond pattern on the soles.

A shop window display celebrating 100 years of Converse shoes. This design is the classic Chuck Taylor Converse shoe (Photo by Chang Shih Yen).

Converse was the dominant American sneaker brand from the 1920s, but struggled from the 1970s. Converse filed for bankruptcy a few times and was eventually sold to Nike in 2003. These days, Converse is a subsidiary of Nike.

The Chuck Taylor Converse All-Star is the most successful selling basketball shoe in history. Some current NBA players still wear Converse. The Converse All-Star sneaker is still wildly popular though not necessarily as a basketball shoe, but as a casual sneaker.

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