Converse founded in the 20th century has completed 113 years. They started their journey from cutting-edge sportswear and now they are manufacturing casual-retro beater shoes. An American shoe company has been distributing sneakers, skating shoes, apparel, lifestyle brand footwear, and accessories. The American athletic shoe market was dominated by Converse for more than a half-century. From the 1970s, the dominant position was lost due to competitor’s entry into the market.
Now, the company is having a portfolio that includes Converse, Chuck Taylor All-Star (Chucks), Cons, Jack Purcell, One Star, and Star Chevron trademarks. They are distinguished because of the All-Star’s rubber sole, Company’s Star Insignia, wrap-around strip, and smooth rounded toe.
History of Converse
In February 1908, Marquis Mills Converse, a 47-year-old manager at a footwear manufacturing firm, opened the firm named Converse Rubber Shoe Company. The first headquarter was in Malden Massachusetts. By 1910, the company was producing winterized rubber-soled footwear for men, women, and children. Later on, in 1915, they started manufacturing athletic shoes.
In the early days, there were four main styles; a monochromatic shoe with black canvas upper and black rubber soles, a high-top model with blue and red trim, all white, and all-black leather and rubber shoe. In 1923, the Converse All-Star shoe was designed as it appears today with improvements to the design by Chuck Taylor. There was a distinctive 5-pointed star logo on the restyled Converse All-Star basketball shoe.
In 1949, Converse introduced the black canvas shoe with a white toe guard. This is what we see now as sneakers. In 1957, a low-cut oxford-style version of All-Star shoe was introduced. Later on, the company started producing All-Star shoes in multiple patterns and colors.
Role of Charles H. Chuck Taylor
In 1917, the company introduced Converse All-Star Basketball shoes. In 1923, Charles H. Chuck Taylor, a basketball player went to the Converse and complained about sore feet. They offered him the job of salesman and ambassador. He had to promote shoes around the U.S. In 1932, Taylor’s signature was added on the classic and high-topped sneakers such as the All-Star patch. Taylor continued his work and effort for Converse till his death in 1969.
Converse provided customized shoes for New York Renaissance, also known as the Rens. It was the first all-African American professional basketball team. In 1962, Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scored 100 points in an NBA game. He was wearing a pair of Chucks. Philadelphia Warriors won the match with 169-147 points over the New York Knicks.
War, Rise, Bankruptcy and New Management
Converse started manufacturing rubberized footwear, protective suits, and outerwear for the military when U.S. entered the World War II in 1941. The manufacturing of athletic shoes was continued when the war was over. During the 1950s and 1960s, using the Converse Basketball Yearbook, The company promoted an American image worldwide. Charles Kerins, an artist, created the cover for the Converse’s role in the lives of high school and college athletes.
PF Flyers, one of the biggest competitors of Converse was bought out in the 1970s. Due to this, a monopoly was created in the shoe market. As a result, in 1975, both brands had to split up because of an anti-trust lawsuit. In the 1970s and onwards, Converse lost the monopoly in the market when new competitors entered the market such as Nike, Adidas, and Puma.
New designs and technology in the sports market were introduced a decade later by Reebok. All of the entrance of new competitors, design, and technology made Converse lose the official shoe contract with National Basketball Association. The chevron and star insignia logo, are a symbol of most of the Converse footwear except for All-Star. It was designed and created by Jim Labadini, who was an employee of the company.
In the 1980s, Canvas-rubber shoes regained popularity in casual footwear. Converse became more dependent on All-Star’s brand. By the year 2000, the yearly debt on the company was pilling up and it was slipping into receivership. On January 22, 2001 Converse was filed for bankruptcy. The main manufacturing plant in the U.S. was shut down in March. Now production was moved overseas.
Acquisition by Nike
Nike paid $309 million to acquire Converse in July 2003. It was their approach to use the 1980s revival to relaunch the footwear in 2010. The brand was now expanded apart from shoes. Converse disappeared from the NBA completely. The last dozen players wearing Converse also switched to another brand.
In 2019, Converse got the image back in the basketball performance with All-Star Pro BB. The new product was first tried out by Kelly Oubre Jr. It was a traditional Converse silhouette with contemporary Nike technology. Draymond Green, an American Professional player of Golden State Warrior of NBA, signed with Converse in March 2020.
In June 2020 Natasha Cloud, an American professional basketball player of Washington Mystics of Women’s NBA signed with Converse as the first WNBA player.
Film and Television
Chuck Taylor All-Star shoes were worn by different actors in films that include:
- Elvis Presley in Change of Habit (1969)
- Several cast members of Animal House (1978)
- Basketball Players in Grease (1978)
- Tom Hanks in Bachelor Party (1984)
- Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future (1985)
- Cast members of Hoosiers (1986)
- Mike Myers & Dana Carvey in Wayne’s World (1992)
- Merlin in The Sword in the Stone, a Disney Animated film was wearing red Chuck Taylor All-Star shoes.
- The cast of Dennis the Menace (1972 – 1983)
- The cast of Happy Days (1974 – 1984)
- Leonard Leakey Hofstadter in The Big Bang Theory
- Christy Plunkett in Mom
Introduction of Chuck Taylor II
Company management announced an improved model of Chuck Taylor All-Star named Chuck Taylor II in July 2015. It was released on July 28, 2015. Keeping the original outward appearance of the Chuck Taylor, Nike technology was incorporated making it a modern lightweight lunarlon insole. The new sneakers were not having a wrap-around strip. Also, the premium canvas was having a no-slip tongue and high-quality stitching.
With a team of ambassadors such Kenny Anderson, Nick Trapasso, Anthony Pappalardo, Sammy Baca, Raymond Molinar, Ethan Fowler, and Rune Glifberg, Converse launched a skateboarding program in 2009 under the name of CONS.
In 2012, Jason Jessee and Mike Anderson were added to the ambassador’s team. A skate event in August 2012, at Huntington Beach, California, U.S. was sponsored by Converse. Raybourn won a $20,000 grand prize and Homoki won a $3,000 best trick contest.
New Headquarters of Converse
The new headquarters building was announced by Converse in January 2013. The company moved in April 2015. The new headquarters was constructed near North Station in downtown Boston. It is having an overlook of Charles River and gives restoration of public waterfront access. There are 10 floors with a total covered area of 214,000 square feet.
In the building, there is a permanent floor for the music recording studio. It is solely used for the Converse Rubber Tracks project. Along with this, there is 5,000 square feet gym was designed with the partnership of Nike. Also, there is a retail Flagship Store of 3,500 square feet.
Converse – A Classic Sneaker Manufacturer
The Converse shoe company is now owned by Nike from 2003 to the present day. All started with rubber-soled footwear that was converted into athletic shoes. They were mainly used for basketball games but later on, they became the icon of the music industry in the 80s and 90s. It is their mission to empower the youth movements with positive social change.