The original basketball shoes had black trim and natural brown colors and it was not until the 1920’s that you could buy the shoe in black canvas or leather. The Converse All Star basketball shoe was not an instant success. That all changed with the introduction of the Chuck Taylor model which was introduced in 1932.
His name was Charles “Chuck” H. Taylor and before joining the Converse sales for in 1921, Chuck played basketball for the Akron Firestones. Besides being a salesman for Converse, Chuck also played and coached Converse’s industrial league basketball team. Chuck was a big supporter and promoter of the All-Star basketball shoe and he had great skill in marketing the basketball shoe to consumers. Through his promotion, marketing and his recommended design changes of the All-Star shoes, Converse decided to add his name to the shoe’s ankle patch in 1932.
Changes to the Shoes through the Years
Converse introduced their basketball shoe in white during the 1936 Olympics. The white shoes coupled with red and blue trim became a very popular model. During World War II, converse shoes became the official shoe of the US Armed Forces and were used during the soldiers exercise routines.
The now classic black and white Converse basketball shoe was introduced in 1949 and was much more vibrant then the past black shoe models. In addition to delivering new styles, the brand gained increasing popularity as basketball continued to grow as a big professional sport. The white and black high top shoes were being used by the NBA and by all other levels of organized basketball.
Company Growth & Downfall
Converse introduced their low cut All Star shoe in 1957 and this style became very popular with their consumers as a casual shoe. The companies shoe line was at one time was considered the best basketball shoe and was so popular to consumers that Converse has an 80% market share in the basketball shoe industry. From the late 1950’s, Converse dominance in the basketball shoe industry started to falter due to the growth of the athletic shoe industry. New companies such as Nike, rebook and other entered into the industry and produced basketballs shoes for me in a variety of colors, materials and technical innovations.
To offset some of the competition, Converse hired Julius Erving (aka Dr. J) to help them introduce a shoe line that was nicked named the “Dr. J’s”. Several other NBA superstars sported Converse basketball shoes during their playing career such as:
- Magic Johnson
- Dwayne Wade
- Larry Johnson
- Kevin Johnson
These endorsements helped boost sales for a period of time; however, in 2001 Converse filed for bankruptcy and was purchased by Nike in 2003 for over $300 million dollars.
Even with the new influx of competitors, Chuck Taylor continued his efforts to drive the success and marketing of the Converse All Star brand. So much so that he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1968. Unfortunately, Chuck Taylor passed away one year after being inducted into the Basketball Hall of fame. Today, he is known as the “Ambassador of Basketball” and his basketball sneaker continue to be worn and introduced to new generations. It is estimated that the Converse basketball shoe has sold around 800,000,000 pairs of shoes since they started in 1917.
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