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CONVERSE ALL STARS

Converse Chuck Taylor Shoes
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Converse All Star
In 1915, the Converse Rubber Company was looking for new ideas to expand their business to a larger market, rather than sticking to their original idea of making seasonal shoes. They began manufacturing athletic shoes so they could have consistent profit year-round. In 1917, basketball was growing in popularity around the U.S., and Converse saw a great opportunity for business. They began manufacturing a basketball-specific shoe that they called the "All Star."

In 1921, after a few years of playing professionally, Taylor visited the Converse sales office in Chicago to ask for a job as a salesperson. After his hiring, he made suggestions to improve the performance of the shoe, which included making the shoe more flexible and adding a protective patch at the ankle. Converse originally only printed the All-Star logo on the patch, but in 1923 they recognized Taylor's contributions by placing his signature on the patch as well. From that point on, the shoe became known as the Chuck Taylor All Star. Taylor then took his show to the road, driving to towns across America to host basketball clinics and teach the game to younger generations while working with local retail stores to sell the All Stars. He was a charming, likable guy who worked tirelessly to promote both basketball and Converse shoes. He lived out of his car, keeping plenty of the All Star shoes in his trunk. He forged connections with coaches and athletic directors around the country and even became a fitness consultant to the United States Armed Forces during World War II. If you were a basketball coach looking for a job, all you had to do was call Chuck and he would be able to connect you to a program. Chuck Taylor was known as the Ambassador of Basketball, and he was also influential in getting the sport into the Olympics.

In preparation for the 1948 Olympics, Converse bucked the trend and began producing an all-new white version of the All Star. After World War II, a man named Grady Lewis joined the Converse team and began working with many of the high school coaches that Chuck Taylor had known in order to refine and promote the new low-cut version of the All Star. They perfected the low-cut version by cutting off the high-tops and letting the Harlem Globetrotters practice in them. When they found a design that wouldn't be kicked off during game play, they knew they had a winner. It was obvious that the public agreed, because by 1966, Converse made up approximately 80% of the United States sneaker market. At this point Converse began producing the All Star in various colors to meet public demand. In the decades that followed, more technically advanced shoes began taking over the basketball world and Converse was forced to change its ways. They began developing new shoes to keep up with the performance demands of athletes, and the Chuck Taylor All Stars were eventually phased out of the game. These days it is extremely rare to see an NBA player wearing Chuck Taylors anywhere near a court. Usually, losing the original market for a cornerstone shoe would be pretty devastating for a company. However, the All Stars had increased in popularity due to the emerging punk rock scene of the mid '70s. The vintage look of the shoe fit perfectly with the punk style and therefore exposed the Chuck Taylors to a whole new audience.

The Chuck Taylors continued to be associated with music trends through the 1990s with the emergence of grunge music. Since the shoe was no longer being used for basketball performance, Converse began using alternate materials for the upper rather than just canvas. They can be found in leather, suede, vinyl and even hemp. Due to questionable decisions and a fading demand, Converse filed for bankruptcy in 2001 and was purchased by Footwear Acquisitions. The new ownership rocketed Converse from being the 16th largest shoe manufacturer worldwide to the 7th in a matter of two-and-a-half years. This rapid growth caught the eye of Nike, which led them to buy Converse in 2003. The All Star's reach has gone far beyond the world of music; the shoe's classic design is now a staple of pop-culture. Chuck Taylors can be seen anywhere from schoolyards to personal collections. The old-school look of Chucks reverberates with people who wore them as kids in the past, as well as with kids of today looking for a vintage design. It seems that the All Star has found a solid niche to rely on for years to come.