2008: Converse 1917 All Star Reproduction

For anyone familiar with Converse’s history, it should be no surprise that the Chuck Taylor All Star has been the brand’s most iconic shoe throughout the company’s long history. However the shoe was originally not called the Chuck Taylor All Star, but was sold simply as the All Star. As the silhouette has been around for almost 100 years, the All Star underwent many changes. From these changes the most modern  iteration of All Star was birthed sometime in the early 2000s. However it’s interesting to note that Converse has actually revisited their initial 1917 All Star design quite a few times. There has been a total of five All Star reproductions/tributes that were created.

1917

The earliest reproductions were seemingly introduced in the 70’s, during the Eltra Corp era. This version is arguably closest in design to the 1917 Converse All Star. The other retros are not necessarily true reproductions, but instead seek to honor the Chuck Taylor All Star’s genesis. While Converse was still being made in America, the brand rarely tapped into it’s legacy. The Chuck Taylor All Star remained consistent and was reinvented numerous times, but Converse as a company never took great interest in revisiting it’s past with retros or reproduction, which seems a bit odd today. When Nike bought Converse, the company began to delve deep into their heritage. As a result fans have been treated to many retros and reproductions of older Converse shoe silhouettes. The most successful ones have been the 1970’s Chuck Taylor retros, the Bosey boots, and the Weapon. While some of modern Converse’s current reproductions are not the most accurate, they arguably did make the best Converse All Star reproduction.

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Converse Century logo.

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Black Fives label.

It’s important to understand that the Chuck Taylor All Star was originally called the All Star. It wasn’t until the 1930s that Chuck Taylor’s name was added to the shoe’s name. While both shoe’s histories will forever be linked, certain elements of the AS were eventually phased out on the CTAS. Back in 2008 Converse was officially 100 years old. To celebrate, the company made many retros/reproductions which sought to create a retrospective of Converse’s century of existence. This endeavor was appropriately called Converse Century, which was basically a sub line. Some of the rarest pieces from this line were the Weapon 86, Pro Leather 76, Chuck Taylor All Star 1938, and All Star (2008).

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The 2008 Converse All Star is a premium shoe inside and out. It was also a tribute to African American basketball teams, called Black Fives, of the early 20th century. The sneaker has leather panels, which are made of full grain leather. There are other leather components which are made of distressed leather. These pieces are indicative of the AS and CTAS’s early years of existence. The distressed pieces were originally used to help reinforce the AS/CTAS. These leather components were phased out some time in the late 1930s to early 40s. This was likely due to advancements in sneaker construction methods as well as possibly due to Converse trying to make their footwear comply with WWII rationing standards. There is also a leather patch which pre dates the iconic Star patch on the CTAS. The patch used displays Converse’s Big C logo, this was one of Converse’s oldest logo’s and was used as one of selling points til roughly the 30s. The 2008 AS also sports 10 eyelets which is accurate to the original version. It uses a reproduction of the OG Converse AS heel label. The toe cap is also fairly true to the era of the AS. The final component which the Converse 2008 AS gets right is the sole. The sole used on the AS was actually different than the modern CTAS. The sole design on the AS changed a few times, as Converse was still refining the design of the sole.

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Converse OG B5 Hi. Strongly based on the Converse 1917 All Star.

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Distressed Big C logo.

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Leather backstay sewn into heel.

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Leather backstay exterior.

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Basketball cage diagram on insoles.

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Ribbed toe cap.

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All Star/Non Skid label.

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1917 All Star sole.

While Converse (Nike Inc) did a very good job paying tribute to the heritage of the classic Chuck Taylor All Star, they also made a fair amount of missteps with this sneaker. For one the entire upper is composed of alternating leather panels. The original version of the All Star only had a duck canvas upper, with various leather pieces that helped give the AS longevity and stability. While there were leather versions of the AS, they did not look like this. It’s possible that the stripes are meant to echo an older era of fashion, specifically during the early 20th century when stripes were very fashionable. Furthermore the upper possesses an embossed cage design. This is a reference to how basketball used to be played in the early 20th century. Players would play in an enclosed cage. At times opposing fans would burn the players, other times they would be burned by heated sections of the cages which were too close to stoves that heated the courts during the winter. The insoles have a printed diagram of an early 20th century basketball court. Another inaccuracy is the use of a modern CTAS bumper. The older AS’s used bumpers which looked more like bumpers on a Vans Authentic. Another hiccup is that the height of the the 2008 AS is shorter than that of the OG AS.  The 2008 AS is the same height as a modern CTAS. The AS is probably 1 to 2 inches taller than modern CTAS. Another small flaw is that the rubber used on the  2008 AS midsole and toe cap is brown, the rubber used on the AS was black. Black rubber was the standard color for Converse sneakers, until the 1950s by which point white became the standard. Finally theres the fact that Converse choose to distress the sole, which shortens the 2008 AS’s lifespan. Beyond this there are smaller inaccuracies which further the differences between the 2008 AS and the OG AS.24l5v12

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Converse All Star circa 1917.

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I do feel that the 2008 All Star gets the overall look and feel of the original 1917 All Star correctly. However it is far from being perfect. The main issue is that the 2008 AS was a concept sneaker. Converse Inc took many elements of the AS, however they were not seeking to truly pay tribute to the All Star, but instead were looking to honor the Chuck Taylor All Star. The Converse 1938 Chuck Taylor All Star is  a very well done reproduction of the original CTAS of that time. Although there are inaccuracies, it does many things correctly. Hopefully for Converse will make a more accurate All Star for the Chuck Taylor’s 100th anniversary.

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*All s/o

*Rare, but probably won’t be worth more than $100

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