I doubt that there has ever been a shoe that is so synonymous with a sport as Converse shoes are with the game of basketball. Converse got its start in the state of Massachusetts, the same state where the game of “basket ball” was begun by a YMCA director who wanted to keep the young men active during the harsh winter months. He nailed a peach basket to the gymnasium wall and the rest was history.
Soon after, the Converse Shoe Company began to churn out athletic footwear with rubber soles that could grip the wood floor in the gymnasium and keep the ankle stable during all of the twists and turns of the new game in town. What other parallel can be found in the world of sports? Do we know the brand of the first shoes worn by footballers? Did the first ruggers wear a shoe that still exists today? I don’t think the early tennis players wors Stan Smith Adidas shoes, even though it seems like that.
No, I think Converse has a corner on being as historical as the sport that it outfitted, just as it has cornered the market on casual, sporty footwear. Those of us of a certain age have been chuckling for several years as we have witnessed Converse shoes’ plunging into the centre of the fashion world. We marvel that the simple sneakers we wore as kids now cost as much or more than athletic shoes that give even better grip and support. We wish that we would have saved our old “Chucks”, that we had washed them before they fell apart and stored them in an airtight container until we could sell them 30 years later. It would have been better than Microsoft stock!
Back when I was a little guy, no one wore low top Converse shoes. Anyone who was serious about sports rocked the high tops because they gave your ankles the support you needed to get up and down the court. I only remember the colors black and white for us mortals, but I do remember the local university’s team sporting red Converse high tops that dazzled our eyes at the local sports arena. Oh, they were beautiful, a bright, vivid fire engine red!
Now, Converse has somehow re-spread its brand around the world, and they didn’t stop with shoes. Converse also makes a wide range of bags that have the same classic look and durability of their shoes. And, the colors that those shoes come in now boggles the mind—burgundy and orange, pink and green, blue and camo, purple and grey, striped and tan, each one with a little different personality than the other. You can buy a pair of Converse trainers to match just about any outfit you wear, and now you can purchase a matching bag to sling over your shoulder that also bear the distinctive Converse star.