There are many shoe manufacturers in this world. But few of them can boast that they produce not just popular, but legendary products, as is the case with the Converse brand.
Simple in appearance, well recognizable, colorful and comfortable Converse sneakers are worn with pleasure by many people of all ages and professions. And although there was a period in the history of the brand when its popularity fell sharply, it still managed to survive all the difficulties and once again become one of the most recognizable.
The history of the Converse Rubber Shoe Company began in February 1908 in Malden, Massachusetts, USA. The company was founded by Marcus Mills Converse, who named it after his last name. Initially, it was engaged in the production of winter shoes with rubber soles, designed for men, women and children. Then summer models were also added to the product range. The first sports shoes were introduced in 1915.
The real breakthrough came in 1917 when the model was introduced. Converse All Starthat was destined to go down in history. Legend has it that in 1918, aspiring basketball player Charles “Chuck” Hollis Taylor, who was looking for the most comfortable shoes, approached the company. The models that the market of those years could offer him led to pain in his legs. He really liked the Converse All-Star model and even made some good suggestions for improving it. As a result, the company entered into a contract with Taylor in 1921 and thus connected its history with the world of basketball.
Chuck Taylor eventually played a huge role in the development of Converse, actively promoting these shoes throughout the country and participating in the creation of ever new models. He did this until his death in 1969.
Helped the development of Converse and World War II. The company then supplied shoes for the US Army - special models were developed for different types of troops. After the end of the war, returning to civilian life, many former soldiers also willingly purchased Converse sneakers for everyday wear. By the way, the Converse Rubber Shoe Company no longer existed by that time, this company went bankrupt in 1929, after which the rights to the brand were transferred to the Hodgman Rubber Company. Subsequently, the brand changed owners several times.
Gradually, the brand is becoming more and more popular among various segments of the population. Many famous athletes and even Hollywood stars are willingly starting to wear it. The company begins to produce not only models of the classic sample with a black top, but also expands the color gamut.
By the beginning of the 1950s, Converse became the undisputed leader in the world of basketball (the company controlled the 80% market) and an indispensable attribute of any teenager. These were no longer just sneakers, but a real symbol. In America, the fashion for these shoes begins, which was facilitated by its gradual penetration into Hollywood films starting in 1961, when the musical West Side Story was released.
By the beginning of the 70s, the company began to actively expand its lineup, releasing models using various materials, not limited to the classic Converse All-Star profile.
But the 80s were very difficult for the brand. This was largely due to the fashion of those years, which turned out to be incompatible with such simple shoes as Converse. At the same time, the popularity of brands such as Puma, Adidas и Nikewhose products were more technologically advanced. Sneaker manufacturers actively invested in the development of ever new technologies, while Converse remained, in fact, all the same “sneakers from the 60s”.
The management (and it changed with enviable regularity in those years, as well as the owners of the brand) resorted to a variety of tricks, repeatedly changed the strategy and target audience of the brand in order to regain its former popularity. It didn't help much, Converse's popularity continued to decline, despite the fact that the brand still had a lot of fans and was well recognized.
Sometimes it's just plain bad luck. So, the contract signed with the basketball player Latrel Spruel had to be eventually broken in 1994. The official reason was the behavior of a player who almost strangled the coach. This story had the most negative impact on the reputation of the brand.
The introduction of REACT technology in 1995, designed to increase the comfort and stability of shoes, could not save the situation. Attempts to get into fashion shoes ended in a resounding failure and a loss of $ 70 million, largely due to a debt takeover of Apex One Inc, a shoe design company. Still, consumers associated Converse with simple sneakers, not designer products.
Realizing that the American market was actually lost for them (in 1998, the share of "Converse" on it was a measly 2.8%), the brand's owners tried to increase its popularity in other countries, such as Japan and Canada. But it was already too late.
In 2001, the company was forced to declare bankruptcy, with a loss of $10 million. But in the end, all this went to the brand only benefit. In 2003, it was bought out for $309 million by Nike, which was well positioned to revive the brand that had lost its former lustre. By 2015, Converse's revenues were already $2 billion.
There is, however, one caveat - the Nike management decided not to return to the exclusively basketball history of the brand (sports models are produced, but it’s more like Nikes of a different design). "Converse" today is a shoe for everyday wear, a tribute to nostalgia. The release of other products under this brand was also launched - bags, backpacks, jackets ... The brand is experiencing its rebirth, but already in a new role.