Converse (shoe company)

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Converse, Inc.
Subsidiary of Nike, Inc.
Traded as NYSE: NKE
Industry Accessories, Apparel,
and Sporting goods
Founded February 1908; 108 years ago (1908-02)
Malden, Massachusetts, U.S.[1]
Founder Marquis Mills Converse
Headquarters Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Number of locations
More than 75
U.S. retail stores (2014)
Area served
Worldwide
Key people

Jim Calhoun
(C.E.O and President)

Charles "Chuck" Taylor (Designer of the
Chuck Taylor All-Star)
Products Apparel, Clothing,
and Shoes
Revenue Increase $2.0 billion (2015)
Number of employees
2,658 (in U.S)
Parent Nike, Inc.
Website www.converse.com

Converse /ˈkɒnvərs/ is an American shoe company with a production output that primarily consists of apparel, skating shoes and lifestyle brand footwear. Converse is known as one of America's most iconic footwear companies.

The company was founded in 1908 by Marquis Mills Converse and has been a subsidiary of Nike, Inc. since 2003.[2] It was one of the few producers of athletic shoes and for over a half century the company dominated the American court shoe market. Converse shoes are distinguished by a number of features, including; the company's star insignia, the All Star's rubber sole, smooth rounded top, and wrap-around strip that have become extremely distinguishable internationally.

Converse manufactures its products under the Cons, Chuck Taylor All-Star, John Varvatos, and Jack Purcell trade names. In addition to apparel and footwear, the company sells other items globally through retailers in over 160 countries and through approximately 75 company-owned retail stores across the United States, and employed 2,658 in the U.S. in 2015.[3]

Early years[edit]

At age 47, Marquis Mills Converse, who was previously a respected manager at a footwear manufacturing firm, opened the Converse Rubber Shoe Company 108 years ago in February 1908 in Malden, Massachusetts. The company was a rubber shoe manufacturer, providing winterized rubber soled footwear for men, women, and children. By 1910, Converse was producing shoes daily, but it was not until 1915 that the company began manufacturing athletic shoes for tennis.

The company's main turning point came in 1917 when the Converse All-Star basketball shoe was introduced. Then in 1921, a basketball player named Charles H. "Chuck" Taylor walked into Converse complaining of sore feet. Converse gave him a job: he worked as a salesman and ambassador, promoting the shoes around the U.S., and in 1932 Taylor’s signature was added to the All-Star patch on the classic, high-topped sneakers. He continued this work until shortly before his death in 1969.[4]

Converse also customized shoes for the New York Renaissance (the "Rens"), the first all-African American professional basketball team. In 1962, center Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scored 100 points in an NBA game while wearing a pair of Chucks, taking a 169–147 victory over the New York Knicks in Hershey, Pennsylvania on March 2.[5]

1941–2000's: War, Bankruptcy, and New Management[edit]

When the U.S. entered World War II in 1941, Converse shifted production to manufacturing rubberized footwear, outerwear, and protective suits for the military. Widely popular during the 1950s and 1960s, Converse promoted a distinctly American image with its Converse Yearbook. Artist Charles Kerins created cover art that celebrated Converse's role in the lives of high school and college athletes.

Through its shoes, Converse developed into an iconic brand, and came to be seen as the essential sports shoe. In the 1970s, Converse purchased the trademark rights to Jack Purcell sneakers from B.F. Goodrich.[6]

Converse lost much of its apparent near-monopoly from the 1970s onward, with the surge of new competitors, including Puma and Adidas, then Nike, then a decade later Reebok, who introduced radical new designs to the sports market. Converse found themselves no longer the official shoe of the National Basketball Association, a title they had relished for many years.

The chevron and star insignia — a logo that remains on a large portion of Converse footwear other than the All Star — was created by Jim Labadini, an employee.

Canvas-rubber shoes regained popularity in the 1980s as casual footwear, but Converse eventually became over-dependent on the "All Stars" brand, whose market collapsed by 1989-1990 as America entered a severe economic recession and the icons of the decade were subject to a wide backlash. By the second half of the 1990s, Converse was slipping repeatedly into receivership as debt piled up yearly, and its products were rejected by consumers in an increasingly competitive environment.

The loss of market share, combined with poor business decisions, forced Converse to file for bankruptcy on January 22, 2001. In April 2001, Footwear Acquisitions, led by Marsden Cason and Bill Simon, purchased the brand from bankruptcy and added industry partners Jack Boys, Jim Stroesser, Lisa Kempa, and David Maddocks to lead the turnaround of America's Original Sports Company.

Nike[edit]

In 9 July 2003, Nike paid $309 million to acquire Converse.[2] Nike approached the 1980s revival around 2005 to relaunch the footwear of choice of that decade, and the "Chucks" quickly became a cultural phenomenon once again. As a result, Nike expanded the Converse brand to other businesses apart from shoes, much akin to its other brands.

New Headquarters[edit]

Converse world headquarters building on Boston's Lovejoy Wharf

In January 2013, Converse announced plans for a new headquarters building, and moved in April 2015. It was constructed near North Station in downtown Boston, on the historic Lovejoy Wharf, overlooking the Charles River as part of a major site overhaul and restoration of public waterfront access.[7] The 10-story 214,000-square-foot (19,900 m2) office building includes a permanent music recording studio for the new "Converse Rubber Tracks" project, 5,000-square-foot (460 m2) gym with a separate yoga studio designed in partnership with Nike, and a brand new 3,500-square-foot (330 m2) retail Flagship Store.[8]

Chuck Taylor All Star II[edit]

An improved model of the Chuck Taylor All-Star, the Chuck Taylor II, was announced by company management in July, 2015.[9] The Chuck Taylor II's were released on July 28, 2015[10] Incorporating Nike technology, it retains the most of outward appearance of the original while employing a modern lightweight insole for increased comfort and reduced fatigue.[9] the notable changes made to the new sneakers are the removal of the wrap around strip, premium canvas with higher quality stitching and a no slip tongue. The new sneakers are priced at $75 for the High Tops, and $70 for Low Tops as opposed to the original All Stars priced at $55 for High Top and $50 for Low Top[9]

Skateboarding Market[edit]

Under the "CONS" name, Converse launched its skateboarding program in 2009 with a team of "ambassadors": Kenny Anderson, Anthony Pappalardo, Nick Trapasso, Sammy Baca, Ethan Fowler, Raymond Molinar, and Rune Glifberg.[11]

In 2012, the company added Jason Jessee and Mike Anderson to its ambassadors team.[12]

In August 2012, Converse sponsored a skate event at Huntington Beach, California, US - including Trapasso, Tom Remillard,[13] Aaron Homoki, Greyson Fletcher, Ben Raemers, Ben Hatchell, Robbie Russo, and Ben Raybourn participated in the competition that was held. Raybourn eventually won the US$20,000 grand prize and Homoki won the US$3,000 Best Trick contest.[14]

As of July 2014, the CONS skateboard team consists of original members Anderson, Trapasso, Baca, and Glifberg, while Jessee, Anderson, Julian Davidson, Remillard, Zered Basset, Ben Raemers, Jake Johnson, Eli Reed, Louis Lopez, Sage Elsesser, and Sean Pablo were subsequently added.[12] Bassett filmed a new advertisement that was broadcast online during July 2014, in which he skateboards through New York City, US in a newly launched skate shoe version of the Converse Weapon model, the "CONS Weapon Skate."[15]

Lawsuit[edit]

Starting in July 2008, Converse tried to send around 180 cease-and-desist letters to over 30 other companies who Converse says to be violating the Chuck Taylor All Star trademark and selling "knock off look-alike" sneakers.

In October 2014, Converse filed a lawsuit against 30 companies for infringing on its classic sneaker style’s bumper toe, striped midsole and toe cap. The brand argued that companies were violating a common-law trademark by importing “knockoff” sneakers with similar elements. A number of companies settled with Converse and they were dropped from the list.[16][17]

While as of February, 2016 the lawsuit is still on going, Charles Bullock, chief administrative judge at the International Trade Commission, has ruled that several brands Converse filed against were violating Converse’s design trademarks, though the notice didn’t specify which trademarks have been violated or by which brands. However, Judge Bullock ruled that while Skechers "Twinkle Toes" brands did share similarities to Converse, "Twinkle Toes" were different enough and marketed in a way for it not be mistaken for Chuck Taylor All-Stars [18]

On June 23, 2016, ironically on the anniversary of the death of Chuck Taylor, the International Trade Commission ruled that Converse's alleged trade dress for the midsole design of a combined toe cap, toe bumper, and stripe was not entitled to trademark protection under the common law and found invalid Converse's federal trademark registration.

Shoes[edit]

The Weapon[edit]

The Weapon, manufactured in many different color schemes

In 1986, Converse released "The Weapon" basketball shoe. Manufactured in two color schemes to match the kit colors of basketball teams, it has been available in both high-top and low cut varieties. The unique[citation needed] aspect of this shoe is the leather construction throughout, including the inside heel which is also heavily padded for comfort. Converse re-released "The Weapon" classic (which Kobe Bryant wore at least three times in 2002 and Andre Miller wore numerous times in 2002 from mid August to early September) several times from 1999-2003 and after, "The Loaded Weapon" in 2003, "The Weapon 86" in 2008 (and the Poorman version in 2009, and the John Varvatos version in 2012), "The Weapon EVO" in 2009, and its successor "The Star Player EVO" (sometimes reduced to "The Star Plyr EVO" or "The Star Ply EVO") in 2010.

The first endorsers of "The Weapon" were Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, who were prominently featured in a Converse commercial set in Bird's hometown of French Lick, Indiana in 1986. They were also worn by Axl Rose in the Guns N' Roses music video "Estranged".

Special editions[edit]

Several special editions of Converse shoes have been made, including DC Comics, Pink Floyd, The Ramones, AC/DC, Sailor Jerry, Metallica, The Clash, Dr. Seuss, Grateful Dead, Ozzy Osbourne, Jimi Hendrix, Drew Brophy, Nirvana, Bad Meets Evil, Green Day, Gorillaz, Matt and Kim, Black Sabbath, the Control, green, brown or camouflage edition, Super Mario and Danny Potthoff. Three new designs were created for high tops, inspired by The Who.

Causes[edit]

Just A special collection called "1Hund (RED)", whereby fifteen percent of the profits are used to support HIV/AIDS prevention, was released by the brand. One hundred artists from around the world were chosen to create designs for the collection as part of the (RED) campaign. Professional skateboarder, Anthony Pappalardo, who, at the time, was also associated with another (RED) participant, Girl skateboards—Pappalardo was sponsored by Chocolate skateboards, a brand distributed by the Crailtap, the distribution company that owns both Girl and Chocolate— released a (RED) edition of his high-selling[19] signature skate shoe model.[20] A short video piece was published on the internet[21] and Pappalardo explains in it:

I got into woodworking about two years ago, through a buddy of mine who I used to skate with every day—he turned into a woodworker. So he gave me this scrap box of wood, and, basically, I just wanted to do something with it ... make something with it. It just definitely started consuming me like skating did. I wanted to read about it, you know? Go on the internet and watch videos about it, and just learn anything and everything I could about woodworking. The first thing I ever made was a bench, and that's, kinda, what I've been making ever since. the cool thing about working with Product (RED) is just by doing the two things that I love, I'm also able to help people.[21]

Pappalardo's first signature shoe with Converse was released in February 2010 and it was produced in the (RED) colorway.[20]

In 2012, Converse is listed as a partner in the (RED) campaign, together with other brands such as Nike Inc., Girl, and Bugaboo. The campaign's mission is to prevent the transmission of the HIV virus from mother to child by 2015 (the campaign's byline is "Fighting For An AIDS Free Generation").[22]

Former Converse college teams[edit]

Note: Due to Converse withdrawing from performance basketball shoes, there are no professional players or college teams wearing Converse shoes, except on occasion Asi Taulava.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Converse turns 100". Chucksconnection.com. 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  2. ^ a b Wayne, Leslie. "For $305 million, Nike buys Converse". New York Times. Retrieved March 27, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Converse Inc Facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about Converse Inc". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2016-02-11. 
  4. ^ "Who the heck was Chuck Taylor anyway?". Kentucky New Era. Hopkinsville. Associated Press. March 28, 2001. p. A7. 
  5. ^ "Wilt breaks NBA record; gets 100 against Knicks". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. Associated Press. March 3, 1962. p. 7. 
  6. ^ Perrin, Charles. "Old Sneakers (since 1935) - Goodrich (now Converse) Jack Purcell". Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  7. ^ http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20130108006830/en/Converse-Announces-Global-Headquarters-City-Boston
  8. ^ "CONVERSE OFFICIALLY OPENS WORLD HEADQUARTERS IN BOSTON AND DEBUTS NEW FLAGSHIP STORE". Converse Media. Retrieved 2016-02-15. 
  9. ^ a b c Converse’s new Chuck Taylors get a comfort boost, Boston Globe, July 22, 2015; Minimalist sneaker launched in 1917 receives upgrade with Nike tech
  10. ^ "CONVERSE USHERS IN NEW ERA WITH GROUND-BREAKING CHUCK TAYLOR ALL STAR II". Converse Media. Retrieved 2016-02-11. 
  11. ^ asayer (13 May 2009). "Cons Comes Back: A Look at Converse Skateboarding". Push.ca. Bell Canada. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Ambassadors". Converse.com. Converse Inc. 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  13. ^ RIDE Channel; Rob Brink; Erica Yary (3 August 2012). "Nick Trapasso, Tom Remillard & Robbie Russo at Coastal Carnage! Weeke ..." (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  14. ^ Lance Dawes; Cory Williams (6 August 2012). "RAYBOURN CRUISES THROUGH CARNAGE". ESPN Action Sports. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  15. ^ Brian Farmer (20 July 2014). "Converse Launches the CONS Weapon Skate Shoe with Short Film featuring Zered Bassett". High Snobiety. Titel Media. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  16. ^ Schiavenza, Matt, "Why Converse is Fighting to Keep All Stars Cool," The Atlantic, 15 October 2014.
  17. ^ Butler-Young, Sheena, "Iconix and Fila Settle in Converse Lawsuit Saga," Footwear News, 9 April 2015.
  18. ^ Sutherlin, Margaret. "Converse Trademark Lawsuit: Skechers Declares Victory, Mixed Ruling Expected Overall". Footwear News. Retrieved 2016-02-11. 
  19. ^ "Anthony Pappalardo". 48 Blocks. 48 Blocks. 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  20. ^ a b Blair Alley (2 December 2009). "ANTHONY PAPPALARDO'S PROJECT RED CONS PRO MODEL". Transworld Skateboarding. Bonnier Corporation. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  21. ^ a b Aaron Meza; crailtap (30 November 2009). "Anthony Pappalardo and (RED)" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  22. ^ "(RED)". (RED) Partners. (RED), a division of The ONE Campaign. 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 

External links[edit]