I’ll never forget my first pair of Converse sneakers. They were fire engine red high tops, gifted to me on my sweet sixteenth. Finally, I’d thought to myself, as I flung open the ALL-STAR box, I could be hip at last. And though the sneakers didn’t deliver me the street cred that I had so desperately desired, my very first pair of Converse will always hold a special place in my heart. But my story is not unique. Chucks—as they have come to be known by millions—are arguably the world’s most-loved sneakers, or at the very least, the most famous.
In their early days, Converse was the official basketball shoe. But just when the shoes seemed to be destined for athletes only, something happened. The shoes started dominating the streets, worn by rock stars, rappers, artists, style icons, rebels and celebrities alike. Suddenly, it was the sneaker of the individual—a global symbol of American pop culture.
This reputation remained untainted when Nike bought out Converse in 2003. And since then, Nike has been careful to preserve the Converse retro aesthetic. Why? Well, because it’s good business. In an article for The New York Times, journalist Jeff Sommer reported that Converse sells more than 270,000 pairs of Chuck Taylors a day, 365 days a year. And in case you’re bad at maths; that works out to roughly 100 million pairs a year. But despite the original Chuck Taylor’s undeniable popularity, Nike recently decided that it was time to mix things up… Meet the new sneaker on the block: Chuck Taylor All Star II
The new shoe boasts completely redesigned insides, using Nike’s Lunarlon foam impact-absorbing technology. And to add to the excitement, the shoe also features a padded tongue, and micro-suede lining. They’re also made from superior materials, and come with colour-matching shoelaces and grommets. Essentially, they’re a luxury upgrade of the Chucks that came before, designed to be a little fancier, and (supposedly) a little comfier, too.
But diehard Converse enthusiasts needn’t be too concerned. For the most part, the new Chuck is the spitting image of the older style that we’ve come to know and love. From the eight rows of eyelets to the famous rubber toecap, the aesthetic of this new Converse remains very much the same. It’s still the sneaker of the individual, a fact that’s unlikely to change.