The Rebirth of a Classic Shoe

One of the oldest and most iconic athletic shoes in the world is the Converse “Chuck Taylor” style. It is back in production and is hotter than ever.  The design, composed of a rubber sole and canvas upper, made its debut, nearly a century ago, way back in 1919. And was intended to be an elite shoe for the professional basketball league.

It got its eternal style name in 1921, when Converse named it after a pro basketball player, Charles “Chuck” Taylor.  The shoe stayed in the realm of basketball until the 1940’s, when American WW2 soldiers were issued the light and comfortable shoes, for use during athletic training.  They loved them. Soldiers, upon returning home to the US, wanted more and the popularity and production of the shoe skyrocketed.

Chuck Taylors were further popularized, because of their appearance in movies of the 1950’s and 60’s. They were worn by movie stars of many genres as well as by popular musicians.  By then, they had earned their permanent place in pop culture.  Shoes worn by famous people can be worth thousands of dollars and some famous “Chucks” shoes are in museums.

Sadly, there was a period of time, where the popularity dwindled, amidst the rise of other newer brands and styles of shoes.  Converse went into bankruptcy. However, in 2003, Nike bought them out, retained the Converse name and kept the iconic style alive. In 2013, they released an updated version of the shoe, with slight design changes to the padding and arch support, but with the same classic outward appearance. What has really changed is the wide range of colors and materials available for the uppers of the shoe.  One can buy Chuck Taylors in a choice of dozens of colors and patterns, from retailers like Kurt Geiger.  They are available in the low rise and high top styles. On the Nike website, for an extra fee, you can even have the shoe custom made, with a choice of colors and even custom imprinted text.

This new version of an old classic shows the marketing genius of Nike. They have blended their concept of selling shoes, based on sponsorships, like the Air Jordans, with appealing to the Millennial’s desire for self-expression and originality.  Backed by the powerhouse of Nike branding, the iconic “Chucks” just might be around for another century.

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