Why Converse is updating the Chuck Taylors

Converse is set to upgrade the popular Chuck Taylor sneaker in the first redesign of this iconic footwear in nearly a century

“The Chuck is nearly 100 years old, and for the most part, it’s basically the same sneaker that it’s always been,” Geoff Cottrill, Vice President and General Manager of Brand and Segments, told Adweek. “We’ve been spending a lot of time in the last two, three, four years with consumers, asking them, What do they need from us, what do they want?”

He revealed that a common thread in the results was that fans wanted the shoe to be more comfortable. So, to this end, Converse, which was acquired by Nike in 2003 when the company faced bankruptcy, used Nike’s new Lunarlon foam in the new Chucks.

According to Nike, the Lunarlon foam features “a soft, yet resilient, foam core that is encased within a supportive foam carrier for lightweight, ultra-plush cushioning, springy response and support.” The Lunarlon foam is used in about 100 other Nike styles, from the casual Air Force 1, to the Kobe X basketball shoe.

Called The Converse Chuck II, the updated shoe is set to debut next Tuesday.

“I don’t think about it as a rebirth or a restating. I look on it as a step forward. Brand and product have to evolve over time with consumer needs in the marketplace. This isn’t a radical change at all,” added Cottrill.

Apart from added sole comfort, the new range will also have an arch support, padded tongue and a breathable lining.

The flat-soled, rubber-toed high-top was created in 1917, but only gained popularity in the 1920s when the company released the Converse All-Star Chuck Taylor. The shoe was named after Charles Hollis “Chuck” Taylor, a popular basketball player of the era. The shoe has since become a staple in urban culture, worn both by men and women at formal and casual events.

“(We’re) ushering in not just a new sneaker, but a completely new way of thinking,” Converse CEO Jim Calhoun said in a statement, calling it a “ground-breaking moment.”

If you want to be one of the first to have a pair of Converse Chuck IIs in your shoe collection, be prepared to part with between R800 and R900.