Converse (shoe company)

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Converse (pronounced /ˈkɒnvərs/) is an American shoe company that has been making shoes since the early 20th century.



1908–1941: Early days and Chuck Taylor

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 was not 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"), the first all-African American professional basketball team.

1941–Present: War, bankruptcy, and new management

When the USA entered World War II in 1941, Converse shifted production to manufacturing rubberized footwear, outerwear, and protective suits for the military. 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. Through its shoes, Converse developed into an iconic brand, and came to be seen as the essential sports shoe. In the 1970's, Converse purchased the trademark rights to Jack Purcell sneakers from B.F. Goodrich.[1]

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