The Converse Mentality

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The Converse Cult has millions of members, but we all wear our shoes with the spice of individuality. No matter the color or style, these shoes will work for anyone who wants to embrace them. They have a distinctive voice and they expect the same of those who wear them.

The Converse brand has been around since 1908, but was relatively unknown until it started producing shoes for the athletic industry, most notably tennis (1915) and basketball (1917). In 1921, Chuck Taylor, a former basketball player started working for the company as a promoter, which eventually led to the shoes being referred to as “Chuckies” or Chucks.

An original 1917 Converse Shoe
Photo from mini smile

Up until 1966, Converse sneakers only produced one style of shoe, which was a basic white or black high-top. However, pressure from basketball teams forced the company to start producing sneakers in different colors.  Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Converse celebrated and marketed its shoes as essential to the American image, most notably through high school and college athletes. It is in this era that Converse became an iconic brand. By the 1970s Converse started producing styles other than high tops that included knee highs and low cuts.

Modern Chuck Taylors or Chuckies
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

The 1970s also saw the company purchase the rights to a sneaker designed by Jack Purcell.  Originally created for the badminton court, the sneaker caught on with its slightly different style.  Purcell Sneakers differ from Chucks in that they have a thicker rubber toe with a distinctive “smiley face” design.

Purcell Sneakers
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

When I was about sixteen years old, I laced up my first pair of Converse sneakers and I never looked back.  They were a blue pair of Purcells and I wish I still had them! Almost twenty years later I’m still wearing Converse sneakers on a daily basis. These days, I prefer low-cuts in either the All-Star or One-Star variety.

At the moment, I own six pairs of Converse shoes in black, blue, green, gray, pink, and purple.  Like any good Converse devotee, I let the white rubber get scuffed up and I get ecstatic when the fabric around the seams begins to fray. I’ll only throw a pair away if there’s a hole in the sole, although I’ve been known to keep a hole-ridden pair of shoes for years. I’m in the middle of a new shoe revolution, which accounts for several pair looking so new.  No worries, though. I’ll have those things beat up in no time!

My current collection of Converse Sneakers
Photo by: c.b.w.

I am of the firm belief that this is a shoe that can be worn with anything from jeans to khakis to shorts and skirts. They never go out of style and they go with everything. Of course, not everyone agrees with me on this point. As a professional, I’ve had to defend my Converse Sneakers on a few occasions. The dress code at my job stipulates casual business attire as the accepted wardrobe of all employees, but I’m not very good at following that rule. I come to work each day wearing a pair of Converse sneakers that best matches whatever I’m wearing. Although, I’ve been known to purposely wear a clashing color.

Now, not everyone can get away with this and I don’t recommend trying it unless you have a quirky enough personality to pull it off.  I’m lucky in that I have a reputation of being the “weird one” and the strange girl no one can quite figure out.  Wearing sneakers is actually the most normal thing I do.

The Converse brand is more than just a swatch of canvas and white rubber in that these shoes embody the spirit of independence and endurance.  Whether it be basketball players, skateboarders, or funky history history teachers, we all wear our Converse sneakers with the same relentless sense of individualism.

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Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Converse_(shoe_company)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Purcell

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c.b.w. 2012

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22 thoughts on “The Converse Mentality

  1. Nice essay! I agree that shoes tell a lot about someone, and that even the pair of shoes you wear might make certain parts of your personality shine a bit brighter. Wear cowboy boots, and you might have a swagger in your walk. High heels, and perhaps you’re flipping your hair and crossing your legs differently. What we wear reflects what we think and feel and who we are as a person, and I think your Converse fits you perfectly!!

    • Shoes really do add a little ooomph to our personalities. :-) When I wear my cute little flats, I feel a lot different from when I wear my sneakers. Aside from personality they also have a lot to with mood. :-)

  2. What a fun post. Looks like you’ve added lots of color to your collection. Must. Have. The. Purple. Ones. I’ve never had a pair of Converse and have wanted purple ones for years. Just need to go out and get ‘em. :)

    It only seems right that as a teacher, you should be able to wear any shoes you want – especially being on your feet all day. :) Good for you for pulling it off.

    • I’ve been wanting a purple pair for a long time, so I when I spotted them last month I snapped them up so fast!! They are my favorite pair right now. :-) In fact, I’m wearing them today . . . in my classroom.

  3. I completely agree! Converse are a great source of individualism. I remember when I met my husband he had on red Converse. I thought he just oozed confidence because of wearing those shoes! I have had a few pairs, and they are freeing! I think we all should ditch the heels (or uncomfy shoes) and jump into our Chucks. The world would be a happier place!

  4. Love the purple ones, of course. I had to fight the same battle with my red high-tops in 1972 when I worked at the library. I finally got away with them because I was the “story lady.” I told the admin types it was part of my “costume” for story hours. Whatever…it worked.

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