Chuck Taylor All-Stars

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A pair of dark blue canvas Chuck Taylor All-Stars

Chuck Taylor All Stars, or Converse All Stars, also referred to as "Converses", "Chuck Taylors", and "All Star", is the brand name for a pair of athletic shoes produced by Nike, Inc. through its Converse division. Nike has owned the rights to the brand since acquiring its former competitor out of bankruptcy in 2003.

The design of the Chuck Taylor All-Star has remained largely unchanged since its introduction. The shoes consist of a stitched upper portion, a toe cap usually made of white rubber, and a sole that is usually made of brown rubber. Although Chuck Taylors are made of various materials such as leather, the original and most widely known version of the shoe is made from cotton canvas.

They were first produced in 1917 as the "All Star", Converse's attempt to capture the basketball shoe market.[1] Chuck Taylor, a basketball player and shoe salesman for Converse, improved the shoe's design and became the product's spokesperson in the 1920s.[2]

History[edit]

Converse Rubber Shoe Company was created by Marquis Mills Converse in 1908 in Malden, Massachusetts. In 1917, the company designed a shoe called the All Star. The shoe was composed of a rubber sole and canvas upper and was designed to be an elite shoe for the professional basketball league. In 1921, a basketball player by the name of Charles "Chuck" Taylor joined a basketball team sponsored by the Converse Company called The Converse All Stars. Taylor held basketball clinics in high schools all over the county and while teaching the fundamentals of the game, he sold the All Star shoes.[3] As a salesman and athlete for the company, Taylor also made improvements to the shoe he loved. His ideas for the shoe were designed to provide enhanced flexibility and support and also incorporated a patch to protect the ankle.

All Stars were soon worn by a variety of professional basketball players and became the envy of all aspiring basketball players. Soon after, All Stars were being worn by athletes in the Olympics, and during World War II American soldiers began to wear All Stars while in training.[4]

In the 1960s, Converse began to expand their company and open more factories and by that time, Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars were being worn by ninety percent of professional and college basketball players.[5] As the years went on, the shoe gained more popularity and became a favorite for numerous groups and subcultures.

Tree Rollins was the last player to wear Converse All Stars in the NBA when in the 1979-1980 season he laced up modified Chuck Taylors which had the Circle Star patch removed on the inside ankle. Instead these had star chevrons sewed to the sides of the canvas similar to the Converse All Star II that had been sold earlier. [6]

Design[edit]

In 1923, after Chuck Taylor made improvements to the shoe, Converse decided to incorporate his name onto the ankle patches that displayed the Converse All Star logo. Then, in the 1930s Taylor's signature was put into the design, which is how the shoe became known as the "Chuck Taylor" All Star.[4] When first created, the Converse All Star had three main styles - a monochromatic shoe with a black canvas upper and black rubber soles, an all white shoe with blue and red trim, and an all black leather and rubber shoe. It wasn't until 1949 that Converse decided to make the toe guard, laces and outer wraps white, which gave the appearance of the iconic black and white Converse All Stars of today. In 1957, Converse came out with the low-cut "Oxford" version of the All Star and soon after started to produce the shoes in multiple colors and prints. Today, Converse makes the Chuck Taylor All Star in a variety of colors, styles, prints and fabrics.

The shoe now features fabric on the bottom of the sole. This way, the shoe is classified as a slipper instead of a sneaker and is therefore subject to a much smaller import tariff.[7]

Nike acquisition[edit]

In 2003, Nike bought Converse brand name for around $305 million.[8] While Converse dominated the U.S. sneaker market from the 1920s until the 1970s, it began to struggle due to competition and lack of funds.[4] In the years following, Converse filed for bankruptcy multiple times and fell into further debt and eventually sold to Nike. Chuck Taylor All Stars as well as Converse's other shoes began to be manufactured in foreign countries like China, Vietnam and Indonesia.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

Ruthie Morris standing onstage with a guitar, wearing a black t-shirt with a modified Chuck Taylor All-Stars logo
Ruthie Morris of Magnapop wears a mock Chuck Taylor All-Stars t-shirt honoring the punk band The Queers.

Throughout the years, Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars made a shift from athletic sportswear to casual footwear.[5] Originally an elite basketball shoe, the Chuck Taylor All Star evolved into the shoe of choice for many subcultures. The shoes became popular among many groups throughout the decades.

Chuck from the NBC television show Chuck wears Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. Kurt Cobain from the massively popular grunge band Nirvana wore Converse All Stars. Michael Echanis wore blackened Chuck Taylors while working as a civilian consultant to the military to help ease the pain he had from a previous injury.

On the television series M*A*S*H, Captain B.J. Hunnicutt wore Converse All Stars in the later seasons. The Tenth Doctor from the British television show Doctor Who wore Converse All Stars. Also WWE Diva A.J. Lee wears knee-high All Stars to the ring. In the Sin City books and movie, the character of Dwight McCarthy wears red Chuck Taylors.

In the 1980s Jonathan Butters and Richard Whiteley (of Yorkshire Television) were frequently seen sporting the classic blue hi-top Chuck Taylors.

Converse was a sponsor of the Nickelodeon game show Finders Keepers, and supplied Chuck Taylor All-Stars to the players, crew, and hosts to wear. Converse also supplied the shoes to participants on The Grudge Match.

American rapper Wiz Khalifa has referenced Chuck Taylor shoes in multiple songs. He wears the shoes on and off stage regularly. His clothing line and record label Taylor Gang Records is named after the rapper’s appreciation of the shoes.

Rapper Machine Gun Kelly both wears and references Chuck T's in several songs.

In the 2011 novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, a pair of black Chuck Taylor All Stars feature prominently in the plot, bestowing the wearer with the powers of speed and flight.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The History of the Converse All Star "Chuck Taylor"". Chucksconnection.com. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  2. ^ By Converse (2005-08-05). "Converse History". Insidehoops.com. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  3. ^ Scott Freeman (April 2006). "The Shoes Make The Man". Indianapolis Monthly. Emmis Communications. 
  4. ^ a b c d Margo DeMello (2009). Feet and Footwear: A Cultural Encyclopedia. Macmillan. 
  5. ^ a b Michelle Bertho, Beverly Crawford, and Edward A. Fogarty (2008). "The Impact of Globalization on the United States: Culture and society". Business & Economics. Greenwood Publishing roup. 
  6. ^ [1][2]
  7. ^ Jeff Steck (2010-08-26). "Sneaking through U.S. Customs with Converse All-Star invention". GazEtc. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  8. ^ Michael McCarthy, "Nike laces up Converse deal".