In its first update since debuting the model 98 years ago, Converse introduced the new Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II. With a focus on durability and comfort, the updated Chuck Taylor All Star will add arch support, cushioned soles and a breathable lining.
From the outside, the Chuck II will mimic the original, including the same capped rubber toe, canvas exterior and circular “All-Star” emblem. But the new model includes a padded tongue and a more durable Tencel canvas as opposed to cotton canvas. A perforated artificial micro-suede upper liner helps prevent the wearer’s feet from getting too hot and sweaty. Nike’s Lunarlon foam – also used in Air Force 1 and the Kobe X basketball shoe – provides extra cushioning and shock absorption.
Dialed-up details include the on-trend high foxing, monochrome matte eyelets, tonal pinstripes and statement embroidered All Star patch. The update will also be 20 percent lighter than classic Chuck Taylors.
“The Chuck Taylor All-Star II will move our brand forward through creativity and innovation, ushering in not just a new sneaker but a new way to unleash the creative spirit for consumers all around the world,” Converse CEO Jim Calhoun said. He called the launch a “new beginning” for the Boston-based company.
Converse, which started as a rubber company in 1908 and was initially known for its tennis shoes, began producing basketball shoes in 1917 to compete with Spalding. The iconic Converse Chuck Taylor All Star design is named after a basketball player of the same name, who helped refine and improve the design of the shoes and became a Converse spokesman in the 1920s. Taylor’s name was added to the star-shaped patch in 1932.
Made in only black and white models, Chuck Taylors became synonymous with the sport of basketball for 40 years. It wasn’t until the late 1960s when Converse started offering multiple colors and began reaching more of a lifestyle customer. The brand hit its cultural stride in the 1970s when punk rock musicians from Brooklyn to London started adopting the shoe and it continued as a steetwear staple.
Nike bought Converse in 2003 as the All-Star manufacturer faced bankruptcy. Since then, the Converse brand has grown considerably, including rising 20 percent in 2014, reaching $2 billion. The updated model represents the first time the Chuck Taylor will incorporate Nike technology.
“Nike casts a big shadow and sets a really high bar,” said Calhoun, who has led Converse for four years. “That attitude has started to permeate here.”
Converse started work on the design two years ago and the changes were based on feedback from consumers, including its 920,000 Twitter followers and more than 2.3 million Instagram followers. Hours were also spent living alongside artists and musicians to perfect the design.
“They gave us a clear message: Whatever you do, do not (expletive) up the Chuck,” said Richard Copcutt, vice president and general manager of Converse All Star.
The Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II sneaker made its retail debut on July 28 at a suggested retail price of $70 (low) and $75 (high) in black, white, red and blue. The original Chuck Taylor will also still be available.