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The People’s Sneaker: Looking back at 100 years of Converse All Stars

Few sneakers are as instantly recognizable and versatile as the Converse All Star
Converse Sneakers

The iconic sneaker for music fans, punks, skaters and counter culture 

Few sneakers are as instantly recognizable and versatile as the Converse All Star. Even if you’ve never owned a pair yourself, no doubt you’ll have seen them on the feet of people of all ages, from all walks of life. Their cultural impact is not to be sniffed at, so get to know your history, people.

It’s hard to believe that this shoe is coming up to its 100th year in the game. Introduced in 1917, the All Star quickly became a go-to sneaker for high-school basketball players, and one guy in particular – Chuck Taylor – who eventually lent his name to the shoe. Back then, nobody could have predicted that the popularity of the All Star would blow up like it has done. As a recent study led by Couponbox shows, the All Star also has incredible unisex appeal compared to many other popular sneakers.

We’d go as far as to say that if you had to pick one shoe design that defines the 20th century, it’d be hard to look past the classic Converse. Why? Let’s look a little deeper into the evolution of the All Star...

Basketball Origins

The All Star is widely regarded as the first purpose-built basketball sneaker. The 1917 design was composed of a rubber sole and canvas upper, and marketed to players in the professional and college basketball leagues.

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Having been on the market for five years or so, in steps Chuck Taylor. Formerly a college ball player, Taylor joined a basketball team sponsored by the Converse company, called the Converse All Stars. He went on to hold basketball clinics up and down the country, all the while selling All Stars as he went and making frequent tweaks and improvements to the flexibility and support of the shoe.

Recognized as a leading spokesman for the Converse brand, Chuck Taylor’s name was eventually added to the patch in 1932 – a worthy shout-out to the guy who effectively put the All Star name on the map.

Converse All Stars

The All Star has since become available in a huge range of colours

Spreading like Wildfire By the time the 1960s came around, it’s said that the All Star was worn by about 90% of professional and college basketball players. Not only that, it had also been adopted by a number of track and field athletes and even American soldiers during training exercises! Outside of sport, plenty of subcultures and fashion icons were starting to include the Converse as part of their designated style – from Andy Warhol to The Ramones and many more in between. By this point, the shoe had been accepted as a strong contender on and off the court and started becoming available in a huge range of patterns and colors. 

Converse Sneakers

The All Star is one of few popular sneakers that can be considered unisex

Unisex Appeal It’s tough to think of another shoe that is seen as a complete equal in the eyes of both men and women. But it’s even probably more tough to understand why exactly this is. The look and feel of the All Star is a beacon of tradition from a bygone era, and it’s this authenticity that appeals to both sexes. There’s even an argument that back in the 1950s and 60s, young women started borrowing the shoes from their boyfriend’s closet. 


Capitol Approved 

The White House Seal of Approval

You know the All Star has made it when the First Lady is seen rocking a pair – on the regular too. Over the past eight years, Mrs. Obama has paired many of her dressed-down outfits with her favorite kicks, in many different colors.

Now that’s what we call a seal of approval. Not bad for a century-old shoe.

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