Whether stomped in on stages by the likes of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, slam-danced through mosh pits to get that inimitable worn aesthetic, shaping a character’s look on-screen such as Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown, or shown off in the street to complement a street-savvy wardrobe, there’s perhaps no sneaker more versatile than the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star. An instantly recognisable classic from its slim silhouette and signature star patch, the all-American icon continues to reinvent itself through technology-pushing and fashion-forward innovations. But you can never truly move forward and pioneer future classics without taking a look back at your roots – and, from its birth in Massachusetts in 1917 to its present evolution, the proliferation of the Chuck Taylor All Star in pop culture suggests that some icons were meant to live forever.
The Beginning: Chuck Taylor All Star
Before they were stitched into all walks of life around the world, the ‘All Star’ went by a different name: the ‘Non-Skids’. Designed to keep basketball players from slipping on the court with a rubber sole, canvas upper, and ventilation-friendly eyelets, the shoes adorned the feet of everyone from ball-playing elites to military cadets – in particular, those of the Converse-sponsored basketball team ‘The Converse All Stars’. In 1921, a new member of the All Stars began envisioning ways to improve the sneaker with the introduction of a protective ankle patch and enhanced flexibility. After being renaming the shoe to the ‘Converse All Star’, that basketball player-turned-Converse saleseman saw his name incorporated into the shoe along with his suggested improvements. That man’s name was Chuck Taylor.
The Throwback: Chuck Taylor All Star '70
Since its explosion onto the footwear scene, the enduring design of the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star has remained largely unchanged. After all, why fix what’s not broken? Nevertheless, Chucks had undergone minor changes in its transition from an sportsman’s shoe to a casual one. To pay homage to its roots in athleticism, Converse resurrected the 1970 version of the Chuck Taylor All Star in 2013, tuned to the specifications of its former glory. Without deviating far from its modern-day silhouette, the retro reboot brought back a thicker canvas construction, higher rubber midsole and foxing, smaller toecap, and enhanced Ortholite cushioning. While the technology saw an update, its aesthetic remains faithful to its early ’70s iteration, featuring an off-white sole and retro Chuck Taylor heel plate.
The Sequel: Chuck Taylor All Star II
Two years following the ’70, the next shoe Converse would design sought to look forward, rather than backward. Retaining its old-school heritage while introducing new-school appeal, the Chuck Taylor All Star II saw Converse trimming away details in favour of a minimalist aesthetic, while packing in more features than ever. Including thicker Tencel canvas, a lightweight rubber midsole akin to the thickness of the All Star ’70 without the extra weight, Nike Lunarlon insole cushioning, and elastic bands at the base of the tongue to prevent slipping, the Chuck II was a game-changer. It was also the first of its kind to introduce a waterproof edition, meaning fashion-conscious dressers could keep the rain boots in the closet for wet weather.
The Evolution: Chuck Taylor All Star Modern Lux
Adopting an even more minimal appearance than its predecessor, Converse now looks to the future with a design for the next generation of All Star wearers and devoted Chuck Taylor followers. Dubbed the ‘All Star Modern Lux’, the reinvented Chuck Taylor sports a number of features never before seen in the iconic sneaker’s history. Featuring a lightweight build for fast-paced urban environments thanks to a full-length Phylon outsole, all-leather upper, round laces and embossed ankle patch, this time the Chuck Taylor All Star is slimmed down even further since its last rework, including the removal of medial eyelets, foxing tape and raised heel plate in pursuit of a streamlined, monochromatic look. One of the most premium reinventions to date, the Modern Lux stays true to its design legacy, with the unmistakable Chuck Taylor All Star silhouette that’ll endure for years to come.
The Chuck Taylor All Star Modern Lux is available from March 2016 at Converse ION Orchard and Converse VivoCity. For more info, visit converse.com.sg.
Text Trent Davis