An All-Star Comeback on Wildcat Way

Converse All-Stars are 104 years old, but they’re still one of the most popular shoes around — especially at BOHS — due to their comfort, versatility, and seemingly infinite amount of styles.

Converse All-Stars have made a colorful comeback on Wildcat Way.

Walk through the New Building and you’ll hear the familiar squeak of the rubber-soled All-Stars and catch flashes of sky-blue hightops, platform low-tops, custom hand-embroidered Chucks, black-on-black fashion statements, and the ubiquitous black-and-white canvas kicks.

All-Stars, also known as “Chucks,” are the classic shoe — a timeless fashion statement, a wardrobe staple, a counter-culture symbol.

What might surprise some fans of the iconic footwear is how long they’ve been around: 104 years. 

In 1917, Converse Rubber Corporation created the first All-Star shoe, following the increasing popularity of basketball, which was invented in 1891 by James Naismith in Springfield, Mass.

In 1921, Charles “Chuck” H. Taylor, a basketball-loving shoe salesman, joined the Converse company’s basketball team — the Converse All-Stars — as a coach and player. Because of his brand-building and shoe-selling efforts, in 1932, a “Chuck Taylor” signature was added to the ankle of the shoe. 

Converse really took off between the 1930s and 1960s because of its rising profile in the sports world. Just in time for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Converse released an all-white canvas hightop with blue and red trim which became the official sneaker for Team USA. And during World War II, Converse became the “official sneaker of the United States,” worn by American troops doing their exercises, adding to their growing reputation. 

Even today, BOHS students wear All-Stars when working out. Doyon Kim, junior, uses a pair of black high-tops during her daily workout because, she claims, they are “easier to lift weights in” as they “offer a lot of support.” Kim even recommends that students use Converse rather than a typical tennis shoe because All-Stars, with their flat soles, improve stability. 

In the ‘70s, All-Stars grew in popularity as stylish, everyday footwear. Baby Boomers refused to give up their OG Chucks; musicians, like the Sex Pistols and The Ramones, leaned into the shoe’s punk aesthetic; and young adults enjoyed the shoe’s versatile groovy colors.

It’s that versatility that makes All-Stars the most popular shoe amongst BOHS students. For instance, freshman Brielle Denbo’s favorite shoes are a pair of hightop Converse because she can “wear them with anything” and they project a “retro, old-school look” that she enjoys. 

Gracie Johnson, senior, owns six pairs of Converse, including a “special” green pair of hightops to match BOHS’s colors. Johnson plans on soon adding even more pairs to her growing collection. 

Allison Martinez, senior, is passionate about her Converse. She owns five pairs of Chucks, two of them the latest platform hightops in bright orange and green. “Converse are the most comfortable shoes I own because they last forever. I’ve had my oldest pair for over three years,” Martinez said. 

A recent trend in hightop All-Stars is embellishing them with embroidery. Kristen Kim, sophomore, embroiders Chucks for her friends and to “steer [her] mind away from stressful situations.” She started adding her artwork to the shoes after being inspired by pictures on Pinterest. Her most recent creation is a bouquet of lavender and dark red flowers on the ankles of a pair of black canvas All-Stars. Kim hones her skills by watching YouTube videos and practicing on pairs of hightops, which are ideal because of the ample canvas around the ankles. 

Converse has undergone 104 years of development, from rubber work boots to basketball shoes to counter-culture symbols. 

Freshman Ava Ro “never knew Converse had such a long history.” She notes that “it’s really cool that I own a shoe that represents so much.”  

Enid Anorve, senior, thinks that the history behind the Converse brand is, “really cool, specifically for our generation…it’s almost like a tradition being passed down indirectly.” Anorve also agrees that “Converse [is] managing to stay modern” with different styles, collaborations (like Space Jam, NASATyler, the Creator, and KITH Classics), and colors always dropping. 

Converse started as basketball shoes available in only two colors, but today they are prized for their retro look, funky colors, timeless versatility, and comfort. While most other fashion trends come and go, Converse All-Stars are here to stay on Wildcat Way as a fashion staple.