BE THE CANVAS
FOR YOUTH PROGRESS
THROUGH SPORTS, CULTURE,
WE ARE CONVERSE
A brand relentlessly focused on delivering product innovation that allows people to move freely and confidently in whatever their pursuit, a brand that delivers a canvas of individual and collective expression. We are a brand deeply focused on telling the stories of past and present to inspire the fiercely independent spirit in all of us. And a brand deeply committed to connecting these spirits together digitally and physically to support, motivate, and activate the power of our community.
Independently and together, we Spark Progress
Serve Youth / Spark Progress / Dare Greatly / Do The Right Thing / Win Together
MADE FOR THE
Our products are designed for the ever-changing world of street culture.
It’s not just what you’re wearing, it’s where you’re going. By helping give motion to movements,
we walk our talk.
A CENTURY OF YOUTHFUL SPIRIT
- THE RAINY STREETS ARE PAVED WITH GOLD. Marquis Mills Converse–our original builder, hustler, and founding father–starts Converse & Pike as a wholesale operation to sell rubber boots to Boston retailers. In a total coincidence, one year later James Naismith nails a peach basket to a wall in Kansas, inventing the game of basketball.
- CAN'T KEEP A BUILDER DOWN. Eventually Pike leaves the company and the name changes to M.M. Converse. Family problems and an unstable rubber shoe market will force the sale of this business. But Marquis Converse rebounds and launches the Converse Rubber Shoe Company with $250k of venture capital–about $6.5M today. Not bad for a startup in 1908. By the end of the decade our new factory is up and running. The first Converse shoes enter the world on April 30, 1909.
- Birth of a legendary shoe. By 1910, Converse makes 5,500 pairs of galoshes per day.
Foreshadowing our impact in street culture and the entertainment world, we promote and host our first outdoor concert. By mid-decade we’ve expanded our reach to athletic shoes. Built for the obscure but growing sport of basketball, our Non-Skid is the great-grandfather of today’s Chuck. In 1919, the Non-Skid is renamed the All-Star.
- Hello, I’m Charles Hollis Taylor. A young guy named Chuck applies for a sales job and ends up wearing and promoting the All-Star shoe religiously.
Taylor travels the USA hosting basketball clinics and promoting Converse with his winning charisma and salesmanship, and helps establishes Converse as the original sports marketer. Branded Basketball Yearbooks debut in 1922—our annual love letter to the game filled with stats and highlights for obsessive players and fans. Business is booming...but in 1929, lingering debts from failed attempts to make car tires drags us into our first bankruptcy.
- The first Olympic basketball game. Chuck Taylor starts selecting basketball All-Americans in 1932, and by 1934, we’ve rewarded his dedication by adding his name to the All-Star. The first-ever Olympic basketball championship is held at the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin, and the Americans wear the All-Star with red and blue stripes. It will become our most iconic Chuck. USA wins the gold medal.The NCAA’s first championship game happens in 1939 and both rivals are wearing Chucks. It’s officially a thing.
- Supporting the troops— literally. Basketball helps us build new relationships, including the military. Chuck Taylor serves the country as a captain in the Air Force and coaches regional basketball squads, which is considered a vital morale booster for our troops. GI’s do their exercises in our high-tops and Chucks become the unofficial training shoe of the United States Armed Forces. In 1949, the BAA and the National League merge to become the NBA, and nearly all pro players are wearing Converse on the court.
- Dominance on the basketball court. By 1955, Chucks are the #1 basketball shoe in America, and Converse owns 80% of the entire sneaker industry. Low-top All-Stars make their debut in 1957 to huge popularity.
- 90% of pro and college teams wear All-Stars. The All-Star is winding down its long run as an athletic shoe, and experiencing rebirth as a lifestyle shoe. It will play supporting roles in some of the most memorable cultural moments over the next 50 years. Chuck Taylor is inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1969. Sadly, that same year he dies just short of his 68th birthday. His spirit lives on in the shoe he made legendary.
- The Pro Leather takes the court. Our classic Star Chevron insignia debuts in 1975.
It shows up on our new All-Star Pro Leather, which will be be worn by more pro and college players than any other shoe in history.
- Our Performance Era. In the early 1980s, Converse develops one of the industry’s first biomechanics labs, delivering the industry’s first high-tech midsole cushioning systems, energy return technology, and motion control devices. Our lightweight and breathable Fastbreak–one of the lightest basketball shoes ever–emerges in 1983.
We develop biomechanic running shoes and helped to launched the jogging craze of the ‘80s. We become the official footwear sponsor of the 1984 Olympic Games. Converse shoes have appeared in final medal rounds at every Olympic competition between 1936 and 1988.
- Ruling the courts and the charts. In 1992 a pair of Stars ’N’ Bars Converse is donated to the Smithsonian. We launch our REACT JUICE technology with gel-filled bladders that provide shock absorption and cushioning. Unfortunately, the REACT bladders were prone to leaking and experienced a few high-profile failures on the courts. Ever the builders, we go back to the drawing board to improve REACT technology, then phase it out by the end of the decade.
In 1997, we hit a milestone: 550,000,000 pairs of Mr. Taylor’s iconic shoe have been produced to date.
- Rough times and rebirth. Our long success on the courts has made us a target for other shoe companies, and the new fitness craze of running causes the market to flood with innovative shoe designs from many competitors. We lose our exclusive relationship with the NBA, and some short-sighted decisions are made in the aftermath. Our second bankruptcy happens in 2001. Once again, we are down, but not out. In 2003 – Nike steps in and buys us for $305 million.
Together we re-energize the Converse brand, with a style revival of ‘80s icons, a skateboarding program, and expansion to apparel and products that go beyond shoes.
- One ear to the street. Our transition to cultural brand is complete. In 2015 we move into our new 10-story World HQ building in downtown Boston on the Lovejoy Wharf. It includes a massive gym, a flagship retail store, and the temporary exhibit Rubber Tracks: a free recording studio as a tribute to all the artists and musicians who have supported Converse over the years.
To date, Converse have made an appearance in over 650 films. 2020 and beyond—where will you fit in?