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How The Converse Chuck Taylors Are Written In The Stars And Shine On Feet

Editorials

Jonathan Leong
May 29, 2020

On a seemingly uneventful day, an aspiring sportsman by the name of Chuck Taylor showed up at the Converse shoe company to work as a salesman. Facing an uncertain future, he needed a realistic hustle (still within the realm of the sports world) to supplement his pursuit of being a semi-professional basketball player.

On a seemingly uneventful day, an aspiring sportsman by the name of Chuck Taylor showed up at the Converse shoe company to work as a salesman. Facing an uncertain future, he needed a realistic hustle (still within the realm of the sports world) to supplement his pursuit of being a semi-professional basketball player.  

When Chuck eventually became pivotal in providing feedback to how converse would go on to refine what would become the “Chuck Taylors” All Stars’ defining silhouette - the shoe became the personification of the American Dream.

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The “Chuck Taylors” All Star continued to ride a wave of popularity in post-war American, across a society high on their recent dominance in culture and sports…eventually nabbing Converse up to 70 percent of the basketball shoe category. Subsequently, a series of less than stellar company decisions led to the brand’s fall from grace and eventual acquisition by Nike which acquired Converse for a paltry (in retrospect) $305 million.

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Today, Nike continues to innovate the iconic shoe’s existing silhouette by often incorporating its lunarlon technology within the shoes (while retaining their unmistakable exterior). Additionally, they often work on high profile collaborations with a string of celebrated creatives such as Dr. Romanelli and Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear of God label.

Dr. Romanelli x Converse First String 1970s Chuck Taylor “Boro” uses vintage Japanese boro fabric to achieve a unique textured look
Dr. Romanelli x Converse First String 1970s Chuck Taylor “Boro” uses vintage Japanese boro fabric to achieve a unique textured look
Converse x Fear of God Chuck 70 sneakers
Converse x Fear of God Chuck 70 sneakers

In many ways, the Converse “Chuck Taylors” All Stars, which started off as a staple for basketball players in the early part of the 20th century - eventually came to embody American fashion nostalgia, as it became the casual staple of choice for generations of people who came to appreciate its laid back sense of cool.

Will Smith cradles a pair of classic leather Converse “Chuck Taylors” HI tops in the 2004 film iRobot
Will Smith cradles a pair of classic leather Converse “Chuck Taylors” HI tops in the 2004 film iRobot

It’s that mix of history and Americana that makes the Converse “Chuck Taylors” All Stars such a timeless classic. Further cementing its indomitable place in history are its numerous and growing appearances in pop culture.

We list some of the Converse “Chuck Taylors” All Stars’ most arresting appearances in film and television.

Rocky (1976)

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Made for a mere $1 million, the first Rocky film (in what would be a sprawling franchise spanning decades) went on to scoop up $225 million at the global box office. Chronicling the life of a small-time Italian American boxer "Rocky Balboa" who gets a shot at a world championship match.

Sylvester Stallone, who also wrote the script - stuck to his insistence in wanting to play the title role despite being a relatively unknown actor. He had earlier failed to land a role in the critically acclaimed Godfather film, and the film's character closely mirrors his professional struggles and frustrations at the time.  

In most major scenes while his character Rocky Balboa is working out in preparation for the fight of his life - the classic black Converse “Chuck Taylors” All Stars HI tops can be seen gracing his feet, as he takes his steps to reach his dream - no matter what the outcome might be.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

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"When you grow up, your heart dies," so goes the line from one of the 80s most iconic teen films that went on to achieve cult status. The Breakfast Club was a tale of seemingly different strangers who were forced to confront their shared existential disdain for the impending adulthood ahead of them as embodied by a purgatory-like school system.

Featuring a cast that wielded 80s star power, their heartfelt interactions contained a raw energy and rare onscreen chemistry. Two iconic sneakers, the Converse Chuck Taylors and Nike Internationalist make their respective appearance in the film, cementing both brands as staples in the wardrobes of teenagers and subsequently adults, for decades to come.

Trainspotting (1996)

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“Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life... But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin' else. And the reasons? There are no reasons…” - Mark Renton, (played by a pre-Star Wars Ewan Mc Gregor, best known for his role as Obi Wan Kenobi)

The film chronicles the lives of a group of characters trying to navigate their way through life against the backdrop of economic despair, urban poverty, and drug addiction. The kinetic and at times psychological use of dark humor mixed with a blisteringly surreal yet unpolished production aesthetic drives a strong heart-pounding narrative that keeps the audience rooting for these misfits born on the wrong side of society. As Renton and his mates stumble through their existence, their struggles and victories are lent a stylish bent by virtue of Renton’s well-worn pair of Converse “Chuck Taylors” All Stars - seemingly acting as a metaphor for their beat-up lifestyles.

Trainspotting lays bares the fact that in life, there are no real heroes or villains: just circumstances and the choices that dictate the outcomes in the unfolding theatre of life which is often unrelenting and merciless in equal measure.

A.K.A The Cyborg Samurai is the Head of Content & Advisor for Ox Street. His career highlights include branded content & direction work for the likes of Nike / Kobe Bryant, MTV, Tiger Beer and New Balance. Since 2008 he has been behind content & campaigns that have been seen by millions across both traditional & digital platforms. He is also a meme enthusiast and has a satirical blog called The Singaplex