Converse Gets an Overhaul

I was one of those ’80s kids who wore Converse sneakers because they were widely available and could be bought for $20 or less if they were on sale. The price point was reasonable for my parents, who didn’t make a ton of money and raised they eyebrows when I expressed a desire for the much more expensive Air Jordans because that’s what the other kids were starting to wear. Even when I was wearing other shoes, I always somehow found myself wearing a pair of Chuck Taylors or Jack Purcells—I have on a pair at this very moment.

It’s been interesting to see the transformation of Converse in the last few decades: Filed for bankruptcy in 2001 and bought by Nike in 2003; being associated with hipsters despite their ubiquity; now, being redesigned at a cost that would make my parents raise their eyebrows:

The new shoes, known as the Chuck Taylor All Star II, contain Lunarlon cushioning technology, which is common in Nike brand shoes. “A lot of our customers said they wanted Chuck Taylors to be more comfortable,” Mr. Cottrill said. “We think that for many people, these will be.”

In most sizes and colors, the new Chuck Taylors, which cost $20 more than the classics, sold out within 24 hours online. I bought a white low-rise pair for $70 at the Converse store in SoHo soon after they went on sale and can report that for me, the Chuck IIs are extremely comfortable. The old version, which I wore happily as a teenager and which, Mr. Cottrill says, are what athletes like Wilt Chamberlain actually used in the N.B.A., now seem impossibly thin-soled for my middle-aged feet.

The original versions are still available for less at $50 a pop, a price point that probably wouldn’t have flown during my childhood days. As my mother would argue, there are plenty of other perfectly fine canvas shoes out there—why get these?



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