Converse the Decades – Check Your Laces

2013 saw Converse’s First String division reintroduce the world to a classic era of the Chuck Taylor All Star. The 1970s First String Chuck Taylor All Star. The shoes were pegged as reproductions. All in all the shoes are decent at trying to be an actual 1970s era All Star. However hiccups here and there stop it from being what it sets out to be, instead it should be thought of more as a retro than a reproduction. The following year Converse Inc introduced the general release 1970s Converse Chuck Taylor All Star, which is widely available, but less accurate than the 2013 FS version. One detail that Converse Inc got wrong when having manufacturers produce the shoes were the laces, an easily overlooked detail.

For one the most obvious way to tell the laces are incorrect, are the length, the laces that come with the retro 1970s shoes are about 60 inches. The standard laces that used to come with Converse All Stars were 54″ laces, while 45″ laces came with the oxford models. For some unknown reason Nike put longer laces on the Chuck Taylors, maybe so people could play with the look of their laces. This is also true for Nike’s Dunk and Air Jordan 1. Another thing is that the laces on the retro models are shorter width wise, while the aglets on the retro laces are slightly longer.

Another curious observation is that the vintage laces seem to be made of higher quality cotton vs the retro laces. When looking at the retro laces theres alot of fraying, despite the fact that the shoes haven’t been worn out very much. Despite the vintage laces being at least 35+ years old, there is no fraying whatsoever. Meaning the retro laces may tear sooner compared to the vintage laces.

Furthermore the retro laces aren’t actually white, but closer to an off white. This was probably done in an effort to give the shoe a more vintage look. Possibly in an effort to emulate the vintage laces that come with All Stars, as the white laces can become oxidized naturally and thus have developed a slight yellowed look.  The vintage laces, actually did not get oxidized, although the glue of the packaging and even the glue on the aglets did get oxidized so they have a slight yellow tint to them.

Finally the last thing that makes the laces incorrect on the Chuck Taylor All Star 1970s reproduction is the weave of the laces. While from a distance they look the same, a closer look shows that they aren’t. The vintage laces are very stretchable, while their length is 54′ they seem to be able to stretch up to about 58′ which is a good amount. The retro laces aren’t as stretchy, and can only maybe stretch an extra one or two inches, not that anyone would want laces that long. Funny thing is, that even other laces made by Converse Inc, which seem to use the same weave pattern as the vintage laces, also don’t possess a great deal of stretch. The laces found on the 2011 Converse 50475 seem to have the same weave pattern and maybe even the same specifications, however it doesn’t stretch a great deal. It possibly will give out another inch or two, furthermore the laces are fraying a fair amount.

Probably the only downside to the white vintage pair of Converse athletic laces is that due to their age some of the ink from the print found on the wrapper that covers the laces rubbed off onto them. So there was some tiny spots of black and orange specks on the laces. However after washing them, on the lowest wash setting and using Woolite, it seemed to take care of the ink situation quite well. That also brings up an important thing, cotton of course is a natural fiber made by plants. People who work in the cotton industry can probably tell you that as time passes, the fibers may weaken. As a result it would definitely be a good idea to either soak vintage Converse laces in water or spray them with water from a spray bottle before you use them. This way if the fibers are weakened, you may be able to revitalize them.

The 1960s saw Converse try and make the All Star available in more colorways. This is possibly because schools wanted to match their Chucks with their team colors, as before the 1960s Chuck Taylors were only readily available in black or olympic white. Converse laces seem to have been on the market perhaps as early as the 1940s. So its no surprise that Converse would eventually offer colored laces to customers, besides the default white laces. Though the particular style of laces that were used for the 1970s Converse All Stars seem to have been in use since the 1920s and were discontinued some time in the late 1980s. The reason being that the laces on the All Star had been changed to the style common on today’s All Stars was probably due to the Chuck Taylor no longer being seen as an athletic shoe. As a result it can be difficult to find vintage laces, white and black are the hardest to find. So if you’re someone who loves the 1970s era of Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, but can’t afford to buy a pair. You may want to buy some vintage Converse laces for your 1970s spec Chuck Taylor All Stars so that they’ll look more like their vintage predecessors. Prices will likely vary depending on which color you’re looking to buy.

If you’re looking for vintage 1970s era Converse laces, the easiest way to tell whether they’re from the 1970s is the labels on the package. Eltra Corporation owned Converse from 1972 to 1979. So vintage Converse laces from the 70s will likely have a graphic that says “an Eltra company” on the front of the package. Such as the image below. However if the package doesn’t say Eltra on it, its possibly from the Allied era of Converse. Allied bought Eltra in 1979, though they kept making Converse laces, so the packaging omits the Eltra text.

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