Chuck Taylor All-Stars
Chuck Taylor All-Stars or Converse All Stars (also referred to as "Converses", "Chuck Taylors", "Chucks", "Cons", and "All Stars") 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. The innovative detail of the original shoe was the "loose lining" of soft canvas. This was intended to move along with sweaty gym socks and prevent blisters.
They were first produced in 1917 as the "All Star", Converse's attempt to capture the basketball shoe market. Chuck Taylor, a basketball player and shoe salesman for Converse, improved the shoe's design and became the product's spokesperson in the 1920s.
An improved model, the Chuck Taylor II, was announced by company management in July 2015. Incorporating Nike technology, it retains the outward appearance of the original while employing a modern lightweight insole for increased comfort and reduced fatigue. The new shoes are expected to sell for $80, a 60% premium over the originals' $50 in 2015 dollars.
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. 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.
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. As the years went on, the shoe gained more popularity and became a favorite for numerous groups and subcultures.
Throughout the years, Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars made a shift from athletic sportswear to casual footwear. Originally an elite basketball shoe, the Chuck Taylor All Star evolved into the shoe of choice for many subcultures, particularly artists and musicians. "In recent years, it has become a more mainstream trend seemingly endorsed by everyone except podiatrists."
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.
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. 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 was not 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.
While the high-cut shoes feature the iconic ankle patch All Star logo, the heel of the shoe (both high and low-cuts) also includes the logo, which is glued on and reads: ALL★STAR. The low-cuts do not feature the ankle patch, however, they have a tag stitched on the tongue which has the same logo as the heel. In 2013, the logo has slightly altered on the heel and tongue. It contains the word "CONVERSE", in addition to ALL★STAR. The ankle patches of the high-cut shoes are unchanged.
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.
In early 2013, Converse launched the Chuck Taylor All Star '70, which featured a build similar to the All Stars used for basketball that were built in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This retro model is different from the then current Chuck Taylor All Stars due to the various changes that happened to the All Star shoes over the intervening three decades. The '70 model featured thicker canvas, a higher rubber midsole and foxing, thicker cushioning, a smaller toe cap, extra material that was stitched on the side wall behind the toe cap for reinforcement, a one-piece rubber bottom sole versus the three piece sole on the modern All Stars, and a black heel patch versus a white one on the modern All Star.
On July 28, 2015, Converse released the Chuck Taylor All Star II. This shoe differed from the standard, modern All Star by thicker Tencel canvas, a higher rubber midsole and foxing similar in size to the All Star '70, but using lighter weight rubber, thicker Lunarlon cushioning, a slightly smaller toe cap, a sewn-on ankle patch on the high-tops, a two-piece rubber bottom sole versus the three piece sole on the modern All Stars, and a heal patch with 3-D letters versus a flat one on the modern All Star.
In 2003, Nike bought Converse brand name for around $305 million. 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. 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.
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