History of Converse
Everyone’s heard of Converse. Chances are that you probably own a pair of shoes, a bag or T-shirt made by them, and if you don’t, then you should do! While the popularity of the company is a phenomenon in itself – leading to an explosion in different products and ranges from the brand – the story behind the company is even more amazing. So, without further ado, let’s have a look back at the history of Converse, and how it became as famous as it did!
It all started in 1908 when Marquis Mills Converse started to make rubber shoes in Malden, Massachusetts under the less-than-surprising “Converse Rubber Shoe Company” moniker. The company primarily specialised in creating winterised rubber-soled footwear for men, women and children in working environments. By 1910, it was already making 4,000 shoes a day, and five years later the company diversified, and started to create athletic shoes for tennis.
Converse decided to focus directly on young people’s sports and, with basketball getting bigger by the day, the company put its efforts into designing footwear for the sport. Converse signed up a basketball player to sponsor the brand: Chuck Taylor, who, as you all know, is still printed on the famed “All Star” line of trainers today. US badminton champion Jack Purcell also joined the ranks in the 1970’s after a trademark buy, also getting a model named after him that is still in production to this very day.
Taylor, having quit basketball after inventing the stitch-less basketball, went from sportsman to salesman and drove his car across the country, selling pairs (and taking orders) from the his cars boot (trunk?!). It became so popular that by 1936, it was chosen as the sneaker of choice for the entrants of the 1936 Olympic Games in then-Nazi Germany.
Later, in the Second World War, Converse was able to seize the day and provide the US Army with shoes directly, while also adding apparel, boots, parkas and rubber protective suits to the list of provisions that the average GI needed to fight the Sino-German war machine. Photos were everywhere chronicling the popularity of the brand – something that was later reflected in more Olympic Games.
As rock ‘n’ roll emerged, so too did the fashion combination of the leather jacket, blue denim jeans and high-top sneakers. At the same time, the creation of the National Basketball Association – as we know it, the NBA – saw the brand explode onto the sports scene, taking advantage of this sales boom by producing its footwear in a variety of colours. By this time, it had no less than 80 per cent of the sports shoe market.
Though it wasn’t all plain sailing. After the emergence of rival sport brands such as Nike, Puma, adidas, and slight later Reebok, Converse saw sales drop. They were no longer the go to trainer for everything sports, and things started to go from bad to worse, when on the 22 January, 2001, Converse filed for bankruptcy. The company was bought just a few months later, and with a new position (based on old roots) of classic trainers for the younger generation, Converse again became fashionable footwear which lead to a buyout by original rival Nike in 2003. As we all know, they are still very much available, and you can get a full range of Size.
It’s now believed that in the US alone, 60 per cent of people own, or have owned, a pair of Converse shoes – not bad for a company practically started out of the back of Chuck Taylor’s car!
This post was kindly written and featured on behalf of Size.