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History of Converse
Converse is a true American original. Converse was founded all the way back in 1908 by Marquis Mills Converse in Malden, Massachusetts. Mills had been a manager at a footwear manufacturing firm and decided to open his own footwear company named the Converse Rubber Shoe Company in February of 1908.
The company originally specialized in winterized rubber-soled shoes, for men, women, and children. The company was an immediate success, but it wouldn’t be until 1915 when they started producing athletic shoes.
Two years after the company’s foray into the athletic market, Converse would create what is perhaps the most iconic shoe ever. In 1917, the Converse All Star basketball shoe was introduced. Shortly after, in 1923, a man by the name of Charles H. “Chuck” Taylor walked into Converse complaining of sore feet.
The Converse All Star was one of the first shoes specifically designed to be worn when playing basketball. Chuck Taylor was a basketball player and provided valuable input on the design of the sneaker. Within a year, his suggestions were implemented and the definitive Converse All Star was born. It featured enhanced flexibility and support and included a distinctive star-shaped logo on the patch that protected the ankle. Taylor’s signature was also added to the logo and the shoe was renamed as the Chuck Taylor All Star.
Chuck Taylor was hired as a salesman and traveled across the country conducting basketball clinics and selling shoes. Taylor’s free basketball clinics continued for nearly thirty years in high school and college gyms and YMCAs around the United States.
In 1922, Taylor introduced a new marketing tool, the annual Converse Basketball Yearbook. This yearbook highlighted the best players and teams in the country and the greatest moments of the sport. He even selected his own list of All Americans. He was basically a hoops YouTuber before YouTube. The publication was also a great tool to promote the clinics and the Converse All Star basketball shoes.
Converse Bought by Nike
During the 1970s, Converse bought its biggest competitor, PF Flyers, which led to a monopoly in the shoe market. Both brands were forced to separate later due to an antitrust lawsuit. Converse had dominated the basketball market up until that time and now watched as several competitors burst onto the scene including Puma, Adidas, and Nike.
Converse regained some popularity during the 1980s as casual footwear, but the brand became overdependent on the “All Star” brand, whose market collapsed by 1989–1990. By the year 2000, Converse slipped into dire financial trouble. Converse filed for bankruptcy on January 22, 2001.
In July of 2003, Nike purchased Converse with plans to revive the brand. By November 2012, Converse had disappeared completely from the NBA, Udonis Haslem, being the last NBA player wearing Converse on court.
Converse reentered the performance basketball market in 2019 with the launch of the All Star Pro BB. Since then, Converse has signed Kelly Oubre Jr., Draymond Green, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as signature athletes.