From the b-ball courts to the streets, Converse has been making big waves for over a century.
Pretty much everyone’s had a pair (or two 👀) in their rotation at one point, and if you haven’t, why’re you sleepin’ on them?! Converse sneakers are classic for a reason.
Want the lowdown on the brand? Get the history on all things Converse right here…
Throwback to 1908
Back in the early 1900s, the ‘Converse Rubber Company’ was founded by Mr Marquis Mills Converse. Kicking off over in Massachusetts, the brand began creating all things rubber: galoshes (i.e. waterproof rubber shoes), leather duck-hunting boots, car tyres and tennis shoes. Eventually moving on to basketball kicks, which we’ll be taking a closer look at!
In 2003 with Converse already a household name and celebrating its 95th anniversary, the brand was acquired by Nike. What seemed like an odd pairing at the time, combining the tech-packed innovation at Nike with old-school Converse classics, the link up has proven to be a success with Converse staying true to its roots and iconic as ever.
Enter The All Star
Less than a decade after the brand was founded, the legendary Converse All Star trainer aka. The ‘Non-Skid’ made its debut in 1917. The OG had the same, signature canvas upper as the All Stars of today, as well as a rubber make up, which the brand specialised in.
It first dropped as purely a basketball trainer and came in a neutral brown colourway with black trims. The All Star was all about function and Converse’s silhouette was like nothing else in the market at the time.
It had been designed with a number of features to give players the edge over their opponents. Placed on the inner sidewall rather than the outer, the heel patch was originally used to protect the ankle bones of the team. Underfoot, the original sneak had a diamond tread pattern on the outsole (the same we see today!) that levelled up the players’ game, allowing them to stop and change direction on court rapidly.
Sales started off steady but the All Star didn’t rise to true fame until the brand linked up with Chuck Taylor.
So, Who’s Chuck Taylor?
If you’re familiar with Converse, you’ll have heard of Chuck Taylor. But do you know why his name’s printed on the kicks?
Back in the early years of basketball, brands advertised their trainers by starting their own teams and sending them around the country. Converse’s team was dubbed ‘All Stars’ and was headed up by coach and player for the Akron Firestones, Charles ‘Chuck’ Taylor.
As well as playing games, he’d run clinics for other coaches and schools across America. Meaning that word on the All Star sneaker spread alongside the rise in popularity for the game.
He might not have had a say in its design, but he was key in kicking it off – earning the iconic ankle patch that reps his name.
From the OG, To Now: What’s Changed?
With over 100 years in the game, the Converse All Star has undergone tweaks and updates – without changing the OG DNA.
In 1934, 17 years after its initial release, the All Star’s heel patch got a fresh look. It was stamped with ‘Chuck Taylor’ to pay homage to the legend behind its popularity. From then on, it was known as not just the All Star, but the Chuck Taylor All Star.
Another change came underfoot. As well as the diamond tread pattern, the brand added a ‘pivot button’ for extra durability. Additional rubber let the players pivot on their front foot without wearing out the sole. The game was changing, and so did the sneakers.
After more feedback from the court, a low-top ‘Oxford’ version of the All Star dropped in ’57. The lower-cut collar was less restrictive during play, but this marked the beginning of All Stars being worn off-court too.
Fast forward to 1971 and Converse brought coloured canvas to the game. It was used so that teams could rep their college colours, as well as fans to show their support from the stands. Not stopping there, the ‘70s saw Converse be picked up by a range of counter-cultures; from punks to metalheads, until hitting the grunge scene in the ‘90s.
Today, Converse continue to drop the All Star in a range of fabrics and colourways, as well as giving the silhouette the collab treatment.
Need to add a pair to your rotation? Check out the complete Converse collection here at JD now ⭐