The Chuck Taylor All Star is the most famous shoe ever put on the market. No other shoe has modernized or defined the sneaker globally the way the Chuck has. This sneaker has been worn by people from all walks of life, rock stars to rappers to the everyday average Joe, all over the planet. Let’s refresh on how this sneaker laid down its blueprint.
In 1908, Marquis Mills Converse was in his early 30’s and had crafted a rep as a respected manager at a footwear manufacturing firm. He decided to go solo and subsequently opened the doors of the Converse Rubber Shoe Company. Jump ahead to 1917: the Converse All Star, one of the world’s first performance basketball shoes, was released. One year later, All-American high school basketball player Chuck Taylor put on a pair, becoming the first true all star to wear All Stars.
In 1921, Chuck Taylor inked a deal with Converse, setting a precedent to be followed by a who’s who list of superstar athletes. From Jordan to Ewing, getting an endorsement deal with a significant shoe company all started with Chuck Taylor. In the 1930s, Converse decided to make it official and added Taylor’s name to the All Star ankle patch. This broke down walls as the first sneaker bearing a player’s name.
In the 50s, The Chuck Taylor All Star shoe began to reach other markets outside of basketball, and started linking up with other cultural outlets like fashion, and music. The Chuck Taylor became affiliated with the rebellious icons of film and rock ‘n’ roll, such as James Dean, which marked a fresh trend in its own right during the era. The collaboration with counter-culture influences gave the Chuck a new audience as a casual shoe for generations to come.
In the 60s, Converse capitalized on the magnitude of the Chuck Taylor All Star by diversifying the look, introducing a low top model. This new look became a cult classic and to this day remains ingrained in many sub cultures and style. The 60’s further diversified the shoe when in 1966 Converse decided that the Chuck should drop the black and white only campaign, and start becoming available in colors.
The breadth of the Chuck Taylor influence continued to span the whole spectrum of culture over the next generation. In the 1970s the punk movement was born and the most iconic bands of the time happened to be very fond of the simple, functional Chuck Taylor silhouette. This marriage of style and culture made it official; the Chuck Taylor All Star was the standard for punk footwear. At the other end of gamut, Converse was the official sneaker sponsor of the at the U.S. Men’s basketball team 1984 LA Olympics, where they won gold while sporting Coverse Weapons. Even though Chuck Taylors were not worn at the Olympics it was still a big success for Converse which displayed how far the shoe has came from a basketball perspective. From punk rock to Olympic athletes, The Chuck has not skipped a beat and continues its pop culture dominance today.
In 2008 Converse celebrated its 100th anniversary. Its mark over the past century has been etched in sports, music, fashion and pop culture and the Chuck Taylor All Star has been a tremendous reason for Converse’s success. While representing the company globally, the shoe has developed its own reputation as the most influential sneaker in the cultural lexicon.
This piece was contributed by Justin Osei-Dwumoh, a freelance writer and shoe buff.
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