In 1908, Marquis Mills Converse decided to start a rubber shoe company. At the time, the idea was considered ludicrous because most companies were bound by a rubber trust, limiting the amount of the material they could use. Instead of bending to warnings, Converse used their unique business strategy as a branding technique. A Converse’s 1913 slogan promised, “a rubber shoe company that would be independent enough not to follow every other company in every thing they do.” The strategy worked and to this day Converse has kept its independent flavor.
Chuck Taylor worked with the company from 1928 to 1938, conceiving the signature diamond pattern sole. He then became the namesake for what is now Converse’s most popular style of shoe. Converse shoes faired well in the beginning. But the brand really took off in the 50’s with the birth of Rock’n Roll and the formation of the NBA. At this point, the basketball-centric Converse All-Stars and the independent Chuck Taylor’s had the perfect audiences.
After the surge in the 50’s the brand fell out of the mainstream. But in the last decade, Converse made a move to re-release more classic styles, with a campaign that mirrored the independence it preached in the 50’s. The success was likewise. Chuck Taylors or “Chucks” blew-up. Chuck Taylors are once again the shoe of the independent. Recognizing this, Converse encourages customers to design their own customizable pair. Chucks have become as independent as their wearers.
Chucks Taylors are a statement of self-expression. Reaching beyond the options on the website, many artists have taken to using the shoes as a canvas. These creative cobblers have fostered a new market; making custom made chucks a modern fashion movement. Design topics reach all across the board. Punk Rock enthusiasts adorn their chucks with song lyrics, band names and musician portraits. Lovers of billiards or bowling add 8 balls, pool tables, bowling pins and score cards. Sports fans show off their favorite teams, mascots and players. Because the shoes are so blank to begin with, the possibilities for customization are endless. The shoe has strayed far from its basketball fame, but hasn’t sacrificed any of its independent personality.
The customization surrounding chucks has given them a distinct artist appeal. No longer the shoe of hoops stars; the Converse Chuck Taylors have become the footwear of choice for a new crowd of independent spirits.
From the fluffiest of bedroom slippers to the least comfortable (yet fabulous enough to justify the pain) stilettos, Danielle owns an array of wonderful shoes. She blogs on behalf of Sears and other prestigious brands; but her musing on fashion above and below the ankle can be found at beltsandbangles.com. Danielle doesn’t believe in “barefoot.”