Converse History // An ‘All Star’ Basketball Shoe
To understand the present and affect the future, you must first know the past. Converse opened shop in 1908, and since that time, their shoes have adorned the feet of some of the greatest legends in basketball. From Chuck Taylor in the original All Star to college-aged Michael Jordan in Pro Leathers and Dennis Rodman wearing his own signature styles, Converse has made its mark on the world of basketball and continues to tell its story to a new generation of athletes.
To completely grasp the impact Converse sneakers had on the hardwood, rewind to the early 20th century. It was a time before the NBA, multimillion-dollar pro endorsements, and ground-breaking innovation. It was a time of simplicity. Shoes were not crafted of man-made compounds; they were built with natural materials like canvas, leather, and rubber. Just short of ten years after founder Marquis M. Converse unleashed the Converse brand, came their coveted All Star. This shoe was the first of its kind. It was designed with the specific purpose of enhancing a players’ performance on the court.
In 1917, the Converse All Star entered the sports arena. Featuring a high-top design to cater to the ankle, the All Star was one of the initial sneakers made specifically for basketball players. It was the first lightweight basketball sneaker to feature double-strength toe guards, ultra-cushioned insoles housing arch supports, and non-marking, molded rubber outsoles that could deliver traction on any surface. This performance-specific design caught the attention of hoopers all over the nation — most notably of world-renowned basketball player Chuck Taylor in 1923. From that point forward, fans of the shoe began calling All Stars “Chucks”. And the “Chucks” craze began.
Although the early days of Converse lie in the sports world, they now have taken on a whole new focus. The once-loved basketball sneakers are now cherished styles among individuals all over the world who choose to live creatively, optimistically, and rebelliously. From sitting courtside to walking the concrete sidewalks, Converse shoes are a versatile style that transcends generations and still comes out on top.
So, if you consider yourself to be a leader in sports knowledge or a trendsetter on the street, having at least one pair of Converse sneakers in your collection is a necessity in order to show your appreciation for the heritage of both court and street style. Also, if you claim to be an expert in either the game of sneakers or basketball, you must remember that long before Nike and adidas and their futuristic shoe designs took over the world of athletics, there was Converse, a simple yet effective sneaker company with the goal of providing top-notch styles to athletes everywhere. Today, Converse sneakers may not be what you see the pros wearing on the court, but their roots lie in the game, and their legacy has forever affected court-inspired style.
In the brand’s first collaboration with an outside artist, Billabong has joined forces with Andy Davis to craft organic and recycled radness in the form of his new surfwear collection.
A California native, Davis grew up wanting just one thing: freedom. He found that freedom by taking to the streets on his skateboard or surfing perfect tubes in the ocean. His love for these sports, and the easy-going lifestyle that accompany them, provided an ideal escape from the restrictions of everyday life.
But during the long hours spent in school, a young Davis found another escape: doodling. As these doodles matured into drawings and paintings, his artistic endeavors began to merge with his other passions, and it wasn’t long before surfing became the source of some serious inspiration. His growing talent led to an attempt at art school, but all Davis really wanted was to play by his own rules, so he dropped out and devoted himself to his surfing and his art.
These led him through the creation of two clothing brands, “free” and “Ando & Friends”, and earned him a cult following within the surfing world. His ability to capture the joy and fun that are the essence of the surfing world is evident in each piece he creates. His art and designs use bright pops of color and unique textures to create a retro feel that perfectly represents the free-spirited nature of his fans.
That spirit now finds a partner in Billabong, bringing Davis’ designs to a much wider audience than ever before. The bright, quirky designs and patterns are matched with recycled or organic materials, confirming the belief that wearing an Andy Davis design not only makes you laid back and free spirited, but is also a declaration that you stand for something good.
A Sole Collector Performance Review
Introduced in 1992 and popularized by five flashy freshman at the University of Michigan, the original Nike Air Flight Huarache has earned iconic status in sneaker history. It also happens to be the first basketball shoe that Eric Avar worked on at Nike. Designed with minimalism in mind, the Huarache was a shoe stripped down to absolute performance necessities, yielding a lightweight shoe with sandal-like comfort. These design principles were re-introduced in 2004 by way of the Air Zoom Huarache 2K4, again earning immediate significance in basketball footwear development and spawning a line of shoes which remains a favorite among the basketball community. Seven models removed from the 2K4, the Huarache 2010 continues the line’s reputation for great comfort and elite performance.
Before I continue, I feel compelled to briefly disclose my findings from the previous model, the 09. The Huarache line is known for its great comfort and popular heel and forefoot Zoom Air midsole cushioning setup, and the 09 really pushed the envelope in those areas. A lot. The 09 is by far the most heavenly, walking-on-clouds-comfortable basketball shoe I’ve ever had the pleasure of wearing – and it was perhaps the worst thing that could’ve happened to a hoops shoe. Its marshmallow-soft midsole completely compromises the lateral stability of the shoe, creating not only less-than-stellar lateral movement on the court, but also a scenario in which players are more prone to roll their ankles. I was hoping that Nike would fix the issue in the 2010 model, especially since the 08 was a solid performer and the 09 was the first (and hopefully only) Huarache hiccup.
So what seemingly happened with the 2010 is that Nike hit “undo” and reverted back to the 08 (while exaggerating the aesthetics). With the 2010 on one foot and the 08 on the other foot, it feels as though I’m wearing a matching pair. Same fit, lockdown, cushioning, weight, lateral stability, ankle collar height, and heel to toe transition. I’m not kidding – they feel identical.
For you Huarache virgins, the 2010’s minimal construction lends itself to great playability with zero break-in period. One can take the shoes right out of the box and hit the courts without any stiffness – they’re just that flexible. Quick players will enjoy the light weight (not quite Hyperdunk light, but lighter than most shoes on the market) and solid lateral stability. Of course, Zoom Air in the heel and forefoot are always highly appreciated. Lockdown is good while helped by the inner sleeve, and players with semi-wide feet will appreciate being able to lace them up tightly without pinky toe rubbing. Lacing the shoes all the way up to the top of the ankle collar, players will enjoy a gentle hug around the ankle without excessive restriction. Traction seems to have received a slight upgrade from the previous two models, thanks to a wider herringbone pattern as opposed to the 08 and 09’s narrow herringbone enclosed in gimmicky circular pods.
My only complaint is that as stripped down as these shoes are, breathability should be better. The toebox features a triangular set of small vent holes on either side of the foot, but they’re simply not substantial exhaust vents. And while the inner sleeve may seem breathable at its exposed areas, such as along the tongue and triangular cutouts on the sides, it just doesn’t do a great job of allowing the foot to dissipate heat.
Huarache fans will find a familiar feel and get solid performance out of the Huarache 2010. This shoe is great for the quick and agile players of the world, regardless of position. While not a major breakthrough in any aspect, the 2010 is without any major flaws and effortlessly carries on the Huarache tradition of consistency.
Who’s Worn It? Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors), Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies), Rashard Lewis (Orlando Magic), LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers), Ronnie Brewer (Utah Jazz), James Posey (New Orleans Hornets), Boris Diaw (Charlotte Bobcats)
Available Now: Nike Huarache 2010