1946 – 1979: Converse : We’re the greatest
After WWII Converse was expanding its horizons. They continued to manufacture footwear for the US Armed Forces. However these shoes no longer carried the Chuck Taylor name or soles. While many of the shoes had the same basic shape they had different soles.
Military shoes made by Converse.
In 1949 the NBA is finally formed and most players are using All Stars.
Chuck Taylor All Stars likely from the 40s.
One of their oldest labels. Color was not widely used on their early shoes.
Player’s Name box. The tongue is rounded instead of being square.
The Comfort arch is used.
The soles were slightly different. The air vents are riveted into the rubber.
The Bosey boot was introduced some time in likely the 1950s.
By the mid 1950s the Chuck Taylor All Stars had already become the shoe of choice for most high school basket ball players.
Chuck Taylor All Star circa the 50s. The red label is present, air vents are further apart and heightened, the Chuck Taylor text is written on the star patch, red player’s name box is present. Color is slowly introduced.
Converse starts to be recognized as a lifestyle brand, with the rise of Rock n Roll. Singers such as Elvis wear the All Stars. Likewise movies stars take a keen liking to the shoe.
Overseas in the Asian territories many American businesses export their goods, Converse is no exception. This is instrumental as it helps preserve Converse’s legacy in the coming decades.
Despite being the preferred choice of Pro Athletes in the NBA Converse still had to contend with the competition. B.F. Goodrich’s P.F. Flyers Center Hi and Ked’s Pro-Keds. While both companies did have athletes that choice their products over Converse, both brands were never quite able to match Converse’s popularity.
Manufactured by B.F. Goodrich in 1937. The Center Hi.
Pro-Keds were made in 1949 by Keds. The Royal Hi.
In 1957 Julius Erving aka “Dr. J” receives his first pair of Chuck Taylor All Stars. That same year Converse creates a low top version of their Chuck Taylor All Star shoe called the All Star Oxford. It becomes widely popular among players.
Converse Oxford. Extra stitching is introduced, and the blue label is present.
Converse Chuck Taylor circa 1960s. Extra stitching is introduced to help the shoes last longer, the air vents are moved up, but remain farther apart.
The label is updated, its in navy. later versions will be in black and have more stars.
During this time Converse began to buy out different brands so they could expand into different markets. Hodgman Rod & Reel was one of the brands that Converse consumed.
Converse bought Hodgman Rod & Reel in 1964.
One of Converse’s Hodgman products for outdoor hunting.
BF Goodrich and Pro-Keds begin to falter due to Converse’s continued success. By now Converse was already selling well in track and field, baseball, basketball, wrestling, outdoor sports, etc.
On June 23, 1969 Chuck Taylor, the man who helped Converse the most with their success dies.
Chuck Taylor 1901-1969.
In 1971 Converse is sold by the Stone Family to the Eltra Company. The Eltra company pushes Converse to the height of its success.
Converse Chuck Taylor circa 1971. Color began to take focus. Offer the customer more options. Extra stitching at the bottom for more reinforcement, the air vents remain farther apart, the midsole is slightly higher, and the navy label is changed to the highly sought after black label.
Later in 1972 Eltra buys P.F. Flyers from BF Goodrich. For a short while PF Flyers are manufactured with both the PF Flyers label and Converse label.
However Eltra is sued due to antitrust issues. Through this they lose the Pf Flyers. However Converse is able to hold onto the Jack Purcell from BF Goodrich.
In 1974 Converse creates the One Star, a low top suede shoe.
Converse One Star.
Converse updates their look with the Star Chevron logo, which is derived from the One Star’s lone star logo. The idea was to emphasis a new era for Converse. An arrow was added to convey a feeling of movement. The updated logo felt more sporty and was immediately applied onto all their footwear.
Converse was also manufacturing shoes for different companies, as well as having a wide selection of shoes. This is probably one of the contributing factors for why they were slapped with an antitrust suit.
The very fabled Sears The Winner by Converse. Not many of these shoes are still around. Many go for $400+.
Later in 1976 Converse introduces the Pro Leather which becomes the shoe of choice for basket ball players. Later Dr. J is endorsed by Converse and later adds his signature to the Pro Leather.
Converse Pro Leather circa 1976.
In the late 70s the Chuck Tayor All Star label is changed from black to the more modern white label we know today. Converse begins to sell off some of its subsidiaries.
In 1979 Eltra is bought by Allied Corporation. What follows is a slow end to Converse’s empire. However Converse remains the undisputed leader of American athletic footwear.