As one of the most iconic sneaker silhouettes of all time, the Converse All Star is a shoe that needs no introduction.
The red, white and blue logo with the Chuck Taylor star is instantly recognisable worldwide – and justifiably so, with more than 270 000 pairs of Converse sold each day! From generation to generation, it has been worn for all occasions from casual weekends to red carpets, skate parks to boardrooms. But who was the guy that practically half the planet wears on their ankle?
Released in 1917, the Converse All Star sneaker was only available in natural brown and black, and was originally designed as a basketball shoe. Sales were very slow to start. Not many people played the sport, so not many people bought the shoe. This is where our hero comes in – Charles “Chuck” Taylor. Taylor played college basketball at Columbus in 1919 – one of the first players to wear Converse. Possibly because of this, he joined Converse in 1922 as a salesman.
Chuck Taylor lived on the road, and for many years his address was a locker at the Converse Chicago warehouse. His life focused on promoting and selling the shoes all around the USA, which he did with so much success that Converse decided to slap his name on the logo.
Fun Fact: At all times, Taylor had hundreds of pairs of Converse in the boot of his Cadillac.
Other useless trivia:
- 1936 – The first U.S. Olympic basketball team wore the sneaker
- 1941 – American soldiers wore Converse in training for WWII
- 1949 – The NBA league was formed, with nearly every player wearing the sneaker
- 1962 – Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a single game wearing Chucks
- 1979 – Tree Rollins was the last player to wear the sneaker in an NBA game
- 1980 – Chuck’s were ‘adopted’ by skaters and made into a lifestyle choice
Thanks to Chuck, the Converse All Star became the best-selling basketball shoe of all time.
The Converse All Star is a shoe for – quite literally – everyone, from Elvis Presley to Princess Diana to Snoop Dog. Even the King of the North, Jon Snow – Kit Harington – owns a pair.
As well as being worn by hundreds of celebrities, both in their everyday lives and their appearances on various red carpets, the shoe has also been featured in many movies and TV series over the years. Remember Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) in Back to the Future (1985) riding a skateboard made out of a soapbox car and wearing – you guessed it – some good old Chucks.
Other movie stars who wore the sneaker include:
- Sylvester Stallone: Rocky – 1976
- John Travolta: Grease – 1978
- Kevin Bacon: Footloose – 1984
- Bruce Willis: Pulp Fiction – 1994
- Paul Walker: Fast 2 Furious – 2003
- Daniel Radcliffe: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – 2009
- Nick Robinson: Jurassic World – 2015
- Millie Bobbie Brown: Stranger Things – 2016
June 2017 – YES TO ALL
In honour of Pride month, Miley Cyrus united with Converse for Pride, joining their YES TO ALL campaign to support and celebrate LGBT youth and equality. A limited-edition collection of 22 psychedelic Chuck Taylor All-Stars was created, with the concept and motto being “YES TO ALL”. True to Miley’s character, the sneakers are bright, colourful and, naturally, covered in rainbows, including on the soles of each shoe.
“Converse says YES TO ALL, standing with youth, freedom of expression, and the belief that whatever gender, sexual orientation or identity, everyone should feel free to be exactly who they are.”
March 2015 – Made By You
In March of 2015, to celebrate its centennial, Converse initiated its largest campaign ever to recognise the brand and the people who turn their “Chucks” into personal works of art. The “Made By You” campaign showcases over 200 one-of-a-kind artworks created on the canvas of the sneakers of inspired souls like Patti Smith, Andy Warhol and the musician next door.
“This isn’t a media campaign where we’re shouting to get people’s attention. It’s a bridge to get people to show what they’ve done.”
– Ian Stewart, vice president of global marketing at Converse
October 2010 – Rubber Tracks
Rubber Tracks is an ongoing initiative created by Converse where emerging musicians of all genres can apply for free studio time at one of the many Converse Recording Studios. Converse then uses various social media platforms to promote selected artists and their concerts – where these artists often sport a pair of Converse that reflects their personality.