You’d be hard-pressed to find somebody who has not owned a pair of Converse sneakers, from little kids all the way up to grown men and women. What first began as a company specializing in weather-resistant boots, Converse developed into one of the most iconic and distinctive brands through its signature shoes, the Chuck Taylor All Stars. Aptly named after the Hall of Famer, Charles H. Taylor, Converse and its High Top All-Star silhouette ascended to the top of the sneaker game. Donned by almost every aspiring basketball player and NBA star at one point, the shoe was later usurped by more advanced runners and tech-infused sneakers by Nike, Adidas, and Puma. While the Converse shoes fell out of the basketball world, the All Stars have shifted to making a lasting impression across generations as a fashionable style icon in sneaker culture.
The materials used to make legendary shoes like the All Star were the same rubber outsoles Converse initially used for boots and galoshes, but with non-slip functionality. The shoes’ uppers were constructed of canvas. The rubber toe cap made the shoes lightweight. This all came together to make the best basketball shoe available at that time.
Maybe the most distinguishable of all Converse silhouettes, the Chuck Taylor All Star High Tops were first mass-produced basketball shoes in the 1920s. It didn’t take long for the Chuck Taylor All Stars to catch fire across the basketball world. Men, women, kids, teens, everybody had to have a pair of the high top Converse shoes in black, white, red, and every other available color.
The All Star Low was created as an alternative street-ready model to the All-Star High Tops in 1957. The low tops also proved immensely popular and soon the Converse All Star could be seen everywhere in both high and low top style.
Later down the line, Nike purchased Converse and incorporated some of its industry-leading technology without sacrificing any lovable features of the shoes. The Chuck Taylor All Star II was a modernized iteration of the original Converse All Star shoes, but this time the silhouette featured a new canvas upper and Nike Lunarlon insole for exceptional cushioning. The Chuck Taylor All Stars were back, but with a new edge.
Donned by NBA great Julius “Dr. J” Erving, the Converse Pro Leather Basketball shoes were considered the top in their category. Changes to the manufacturing of the shoes, namely a pre-made sole unit, enhanced the performance and functionality of the sneakers by adding more cushioning and responsiveness. The shoes moved away from the canvas of the Chuck Taylor All Stars and went with a leather feel. The leather, whether in black or white, gave it a different, more modern look.
Canadian badminton great, Jack Purcell, had made signature shoes with functionality features designed for a badminton player for B.F. Goodrich Company of Canada. He came up with a similar canvas and rubber combination that was technically sound and stylish. In the 1970s, Converse would later buy the rights for the Jack Purcell shoe and it would become the iconic silhouette we see today.
An even more modernized iteration of the Chuck Taylor All Star low topswas made when Converse brought out the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Shoreline. The canvas uppers and rubber outsoles remained, but the collar is revamped and elasticized making it easier to slip on and off. The Shoreline became a distinct piece of the All Star lineup for men, women and kids. Shoreline shoes are made in low top with laces or slip-on style.