Some of us were too young to remember our first pair of Chuck Taylors; others may distinctly recall the moment of consideration and purchase. Either way, Converse‘s iconic centerpiece has reached global prevalence, relevance and a dynamic reputation. This was a basketball sneaker adopted by artists, musicians and skaters. Its impact has extended even further and further. A pair of Chuck Taylors means something different to everyone, depending on perspective, but love for the sneakers is never in question. Today, over 140 journalists descended upon a secret location near Converse’s new Boston headquarters to learn about the shoe’s next chapter: the Chuck Taylor All Star II—the brand’s most important release in half a century and a companion piece to the original.
Immediately one has to wonder: why make changes to a core product and give it a similar name rather than start from scratch? Converse has been making premium versions of the sneaker for years and has been offering high-end collaborations for decades. The answer is simple: it’s an overall step forward for the product—with comfort as an equally important defining factor. The silhouette is still recognizable, but more nuanced. An entirely embroidered All Star patch rests on Tencel Canvas—a material that is lighter, stronger and more durable than the usual canvas. The monochrome matte eyelets punctuate the design. But really, this upgrade to the look reflects what’s within.
The Chuck II sports a full length Nike Lunarlon sockliner, a direct benefit of being owned by Nike since 2003. Additionally, the shoe bears a foam-padded collar, a non-slip padded tongue and a perforated micro-suede liner. The overall product is 20% lighter than the original. While it looks much the same, one can’t shake the notion that this clearly represents a step up in comfort and support. Arguably, for this first time ever the experience of wearing a Chuck Taylor rises up to the standards of the iconography. This sneaker is, without a doubt, an upgrade visually and physically. Even the fit shifts from the more relaxed version of the past, to what is referred to as a “comfort fit.”
It’s remarkable to think that Converse initially starting producing canvas shoes to keep their rubber shoe factory open during the summer. The original All Star first hit shelves in 1917, then it adopted the name Chuck Taylor in 1934, thanks to the man who coached the Converse All Star Club Team. The signature red and blue stripe flourishes on white Chucks were born from the 1936 Olympics. The brand introduced print patterns in 1983. The rest is history—something they’re hoping to make again today.
Two years ago, the design team at Converse received the brief requesting a new iteration of the Chuck Taylor. From consumer groups to product testing, this is the final result. “The time is right because the consumer tells us it’s right,” explains Richard Copcutt, the VP/GM of Converse All Star. As we are wearing them now, we agree. Time will ultimately tell, but in the interim, we can guarantee the product reflects true advancement.
On 28 July 2015, the fall 2015 Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II sneaker will be available for $70 (low-top) and $75 (high-top), at Converse stores worldwide and on the Converse website. They’ll be released in four colorways: Black, White, Salsa Red and Sodalite Blue. Three more colorways will be released for the holiday 2015 season.
All images by David Graver except for the last, courtesy of Converse