How Converse Managed to Become A Style Icon Over The Last 100 Years
Over the last century, Converse has been creating a huge legacy within the sneakers world by effortlessly embedding itself in subcultures and fashion trends. Today, both the Converse Chuck Taylor and the Converse One Star are two of the strongest sneaker styles alternative on the table. Read on to discover how a basic basketball shoe came to be a style staple in the current sneaker scene.
Text by : Maxime Fumaneri
The iconic silhouette of the sneaker was originally designed in 1917 by a former rubber company turned into shoes manufacturer named “Converse Rubber Shoe Company”. 1923 is definitely the year where it all started for the small company when the American professional basketball player and of course, future trendsetter, Charles “Chuck Taylor” instantly fell in love with the shoes. It didn’t take long until the shoes was rebranded after his name and after his well-known basketball team “The Converse All Stars”.
The popularity of the Chuck Taylors has quickly rocketed up within the NBA’s world, becoming the must-have and most hyped basketball sneaker of the moment. It comes with no surprise that the hip-hop industry later adopted the shoes as there is a long-time and strong overlap between both industries. If you dig a little bit more in fashion history, you’ll find out that rappers have always influenced trends and created interesting fashion innovations with their music and lifestyles. This important step in the brand’s history finally gave to Converse the legitimization needed to establish themselves outside the sport industry as a global sneaker brand.
Given the status of the All Stars in the Hip-Hop industry and its now worldwide recognizable silhouette, it was just a matter of time before the trend hits other subcultures and countercultural communities. The Chuck Taylor found itself an important place in the Punk and Grunge industry. Anyone from The Ramones, Kurt Cobain to Nirvana, and The Sex Pistols, they all flexed the sneakers in their own way proving that the Chuck Taylor is definitely compatible with everything.
Far from its initial release as a basketball shoe in 1974, the Converse One Star appealed the skateboarding scene of the early ‘90’s. At this time, the shoe was picked-up by some of the most well-known skateboard magazines such as Thrasher for its simple design, comfort and sturdiness. After a quite long period of silence, the Converse One Star has recently been put in the spotlight by a lot of skateboarding videos starring Converse team riders, establishing once again the key role of the sneaker in subcultures. Today, both skaters and sneaker heads have adopted the One Star.
Consistency is key to longevity. Converse is maybe one of the few current brand that totally understood this statement. Indeed, over the last 100 years the design of the Chuck Taylor released in 1917 and of the One Star released on 1974 has barely changed. Simple design has a curious habit of affecting subcultural style, that’s why today the Chuck Taylors are one of the most recognizable shoes on the planet. Symbol of the pop-culture, subculture and of course a long-time hyped trend, almost everyone has or already owned a pair of Chuck’s in his sneakers rotation.
Furthermore, Converse has always surrounded itself with the top current fashion brands proving once again its key influence in the fashion industry. Over the past two years, Converse has teamed up with a really long list of major street-wear brands such as Carhartt, Patta, Comme des Garçons, to name only a few.
The two main silhouettes, the Converse One Star and the Converse 70 (a more recent and premium version of the OG Chuck Taylors), have a strong impact on the mainstream, inspiring the most influential icons of the moment. A$ap Nast, Tyler the Creator, Yung Lean, Vince Staples, they all made their own reinterpretation of the classic sneaker. Virgil Abloh who is arguably the most influential designer of 2017, has released in his mega-hyped “The Ten” collection (which was by the way last year biggest footwear collaboration) a crazy version of the Converse 70.
If the most influential designers and artists put their own spin on the shoe, this must have an impact. Indeed, the silhouette’s timeless simplicity has appealed through the years everyone from skaters, punks, sneaker heads and influencers. Wearing sneakers is often seen as an extension of the wearer’s personality and unlike tons of the current most-hyped shoes released almost every months, the versatility and subversive appeal of both One Stars and All Stars make them a living icon to add to your daily rotation.