Saturday, January 19, 2008

Happy Birthday, Converse

I would doubt whether the Queen will send a telegram but Converse turns 100 this year. The company started in 1908 and made canvas topped basketball shoes. Their white tops grew in popularity through the early 20th century to dominate the sport from the forties to the sixties. Chuck Taylor, himself a basketball great turned shoe salesperson and before the age of endorsement made Coverse synonymous with basketball thanks to his sales team who established basketball clinics at high schools and colleges throughout the US. Cross over into athleisure from the 40s onwards increased sales as dancing became more athletic and youths (mainly males) took to wearing “Chucks” off court. Low cut Chuck Taylor oxfords were all the rage in the 60s after the Beach Boys were photographed wearing black. The company started to produce trainers in different colours and these sold well. Converse’s domination of court shoes faultered as companies like adidas and Nike come into the basketball market with quality leather shoes. Despite holding it own the company eventually was bought over by Nike. The parent company were keen not to compete and instead kept Converse independent with it’s reputation and high standards intact. By financing Converse, they introduced the canvas Converse All Star which became an evergreen. The Converse silhouette is classic athleisure and never seems to go out of style. To the serious trainerista, Converse stays fresh with new fashion lines by not changing the Chuck Taylor construction. They are true ‘born again performance trainers’ and Converse shoes have made a recent comeback to the court and are worn by professional basketball player, Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat). The shoes are also popular with up and coming colleague players.

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