Teeny Boppers Are Bringing Back The Old Style Sneakers


Springboro's Guy Pasvogel, published author, shares his thoughts

SPRINGBORO, OH -- Just yesterday, as I walked through the mall, I noticed a young lady who was wearing a familiar brand of sneakers that I used to wear when I was in grade school. The brand was Chuck Taylor Converse All Stars, and every grade schooler had a pair on or off the basketball floor. It was “in style.”

Well, the teeny boppers are bringing back the old style sneakers. I guess what was once "old style" fifty years ago is suddenly "in style" again!

I do not know who Chuck Taylor is or was, so I decided to do a little research. Here is what I found…

The Converse Shoe Company was founded in 1908 by Marquis Mills Converse in Malden, Massachusetts. They made all things rubber at the time including galoshes, leather duck hunting leather boots, tires, and tennis shoes.

In Springfield, Masseshusetts, about 100 miles away, a new game called basketball had been founded and was becoming popular along the East Coast. To keep the assembly lines going in the summertime, the Converse Company delved into making basketball shoes.

To promote their shoe line in 1922, the Converse company hired a man named Chuck Taylor to coach and play on a traveling semi-pro basketball team to play other teams in other towns. The team was named Akron Firestone Non-Skids. They also conducted clinics for local coaches to teach them new techniques for the game. Then, after the clinic, they took the coaches down to the local sporting goods store to buy Converse basketball shoes. 

As the game became more popular, so did the shoe. Ingenious!

So what distinguished the Converse All Star shoe from the other shoe companies springing up to capitalize on the basketball craze? First, they put a heel patch on the shoe to protect the ankle. Then they incorporated a diamond shaped tread that aided in starting, stopping and pushing off in multiple directions.

The shoe company experienced a decline in the depression years, so they decided to incorporate the name Chuck Taylor onto their shoe heel. Their reasoning was that when coaches were asked who taught them the fundamentals of basketball, the name Chuck Taylor kept cropping up. Thus was born, the first celebrity endorser of a sports product. 

Chuck Taylor Converse All Stars became the number one selling basketball shoe. By the year 1960 (my teen years), the shoe controlled 80% of the basketball shoe market.

Then, in the late 1970’s the shoe faded in popularity as other shoe companies came out with their own brands. Celebrity endorsement became the way to market their products. In 1984, NBA rookie Michael Jordan was approached by Converse, Nike, and Addias to promote their sneaker line. 

Nike won out with a 2.5 million dollar contract. Thus was born the first Air Jordan sneaker. Nike’s goal was to make 3 million dollars in the first three years. The Air Jordan sneaker grossed $125 million the first year.

It makes me wonder how much Converse paid Chuck Taylor to endorse their shoes in 1934? Probably not 2.5 million dollars. Grant it, in a one on one game Michael Jordan could probably run rings around Taylor. However, I rather doubt it if Air Jordans controlled 80% of the market in his heyday like Chuck Taylor did... Just saying.

If the name Michael Jordan can sell that many basketball sneakers, just think what his endorsement could do for other products. Just imagine a toupee company getting Michael to endorse their new line of “rugs”. Call it “Hair Jordan.” Every bald guy in America would be lining up to buy his product!

This week and next, we will be watching the end of March Madness and the Road to the Final Four. Players will all be wearing sneakers, be it Nike, Addias, Air Jordan, New Balance, Air Jordans and the like. Not many if any will be wearing Chuck Taylor All Stars.

In order to find anyone wearing Chuck Taylor All Stars, your best bet is to skip March Madness. Just go to the mall. There you will find young ladies bringing back a long forgotten product and making an old style...IN style.

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