I wore a pair of Chuck Taylor All Stars to work today. I did so because they are fashionable.
I’m also fascinated by them. I know they were worn by professional basketball players in the 1970s. They are now considered antiquated for the game of basketball. There are too many specialized shoes from too many shoe companies for Chuck Taylors to ever be used to play professionally. Plus, they would be uncomfortable has hell to run up and down a basketball court in.
I do find it quirky that these shoes have made the transformation from basketball shoe into fashionable shoe. The adoption rate of Chuck Taylors in every day fashion is sky high. Don’t believe me? Spend a whole day looking at people’s shoes. You will see multiple pairs. For an added bonus, walk into any creative or tech agency and try to find someone who isn’t wearing them.
Yup, Chuck Taylors are so popular that a pair is sold every 43 seconds. Two have probably been sold in the time you’ve been reading this.
I came across this stat on Complex.com, in the article “50 Things You Didn’t Know about Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars.”
This show has a pretty complex history. A few of my favorite antidotes from the story:
- The shoe was first introduced in 1917 and its basic design hasn’t changed since 1949.
- The shoe was worn by the first USA Men’s Basketball team, by both teams in the first-ever NCAA Championship game and by the first ever professional basketball team.
- By 1960, the shoe was worn by 90% of college and professional basketball players.
- Converse had 80% of the shoe market in the late 1960s.
- U.S. soldiers trained in Chuck Taylors during WWII.
These are only a few of the interesting facts curated by Complex, go check out the rest of them if you have time.
The rich history of the Chuck Taylor All Stars got me thinking, how many other fashions have maintained its popularity for fifty years? Jeans, baseball caps, the suit and tie? I can’t think of too many. I think it is kind of cool that I can look down at my Chuck Taylors and think “someone like me probably wore this same shoe in the 1950s.”
When we wear Chuck Taylors, we are connected to past generations through a fashion trend that may never die.
Why do these shoes have such staying power? Probably because of their simple, clean design. The noisier something is, the less likely it is to make it out of the era it was created in. Think of the Boston Celtics jersey as compared to the 1990s Toronto Raptors jerseys.
I hope in the future, when our technology has become so advanced, when our world looks so different, when our minds have become so evolved, that we are still wearing beat up pairs of Chucks that connect us to a past we should never forget.