ConverseConverse is an American shoe company that has been making shoes since the early 20th century.
In his late 30s, Marquis Mill Converse, who was previously a respected manager at a footwear manufacturing firm, opened the Converse Rubber Shoe Company (completely unrelated to the Boston Rubber Shoe Company, founded by fourth cousin Elisha Converse) in Malden, Massachusetts in 1908. The company was a rubber shoe manufacturer, providing winterized rubber soled footwear for men, women, and children. By 1910, Converse was producing 4,000 shoes daily, but it wasn't until 1915 that the company began manufacturing athletic shoes for tennis. The company's main turning point came in 1917 when the Converse All-Star basketball shoe was introduced. Then in 1921, a basketball player named Charles H. "Chuck" Taylor walked into Converse complaining of sore feet. Converse gave him a job. He worked as a salesman and ambassador, promoting the shoes around the United States, and in 1923 his signature was added to the All Star patch. He tirelessly continued this work until shortly before his death in 1969. Converse also customized shoes for the New York Renaissance (the "Rens"), basketball's first all black pro basketball team.
When the United States entered World War II in 1941, Converse shifted production to manufacturing footwear, apparel, boots, parkas, rubber protective suits, and ponchos for pilots and troops. Widely popular during the 1950s and 1960s, Converse promoted a distinctly American image with its Converse Yearbook. Artist Charles Kerins created cover art that celebrated Converse's role in the lives of High School and College athletes, as the essential sports shoe. In the 1970's, Converse purchased the trademark rights to Jack Purcell sneakers from B.F. Goodrich.
Converse Jack Purcells.
Red Chuck Taylor All Star basketball shoe.
Converse lost much of its apparent near-monopoly from the 1970s onward, with the surge of new competitors, including Puma and Adidas, then Nike, then a decade later Reebok, who introduced radical new designs to the market. Converse found themselves no longer the official shoe of the National Basketball Association, a title they had relished for many years.
The loss of market share, combined with poor business decisions, forced Converse to file for bankruptcy on January 22, 2001. When the company subsequently changed hands that year, the last factory in the United States was closed. Thereafter, manufacturing for the American market was no longer performed in the United States, but instead in a number of Asian and European countries, including China, Indonesia, Italy, Lithuania and Vietnam.
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