The evolution of Converse: A decades-old, non-conforming statement sneaker

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Lois Opoku wearing white blazer, a white bag Dior, pink chucks Commes des Garcons x Converse, white skirt in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images
Lois Opoku wearing white blazer, a white bag Dior, pink chucks Commes des Garcons x Converse, white skirt in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images
  • The Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star is an iconic sneaker worn by different generations. 
  • As a 90s baby growing up in Soweto, owning a pair was considered 'cool'.
  • Collaborations across different global subcultures keep the sneaker relevant and trendy. 

Every generation has its own story to tell when it comes to this iconic shoe.

Well, I also have mine.

As a 90s baby growing up in Soweto, I can't remember a shoe as iconic as this one. If you didn't own a pair, you had to have it. 

Interestingly, it used to be a shoe worn predominately by men - but, in the 2000s, there was somewhat of a shift.

I remember how, in an all-girls high school, owning a pair qualified as trendy. What made it even better was the colours later incorporated. Red, green and pink were my fave. It was a must-have. 

Lois Opoku in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images

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The Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star has been a fashion statement piece from generation to generation since 1917.

From being a basketball shoe to being one of the iconic sneakers, history has experienced it to be a sneaker that is worn for literally any occasion.

'Pantsulas' in the township take it as a fashion statement for the 'culture', executives in the boardroom rock the Chuck Taylor with a suit, and some brides walk down the aisle in their Chucks too. There are no restrictions on what to wear or how to style it. 

all star, sneaker, fashion, trends, wedding
Peach coloured wedding, the bride and groom on their wedding day. Photo by Getty Images

It is quite deliberate to say 'experienced' because the evolution of the All-Star continuously transforms, and experiments with styles that set the trends. Perhaps this is why its prominence remains solid.

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In the late 70s and early 80s, the court sneaker culture had a shift. Athletes strayed away from All-Stars and instead started purchasing heavier sneakers. Even though the sneaker was no longer worn on the court, it gained a lot of popularity in the music scene.

The continued collaborations with artists and designers continue to make the shoe relevant and immersed in subcultures. 

READ MORE | The history of sneakers: from commodity to cultural icon

A recent collaboration launched online in October is with prolific Chinese designer Feng Chen Wang, adding a new dimension to her infamous 2-in-1 Chuck 70. The design, first seen on the runway, mirrors cracked concrete: Reborn from the rubble


chuck taylor, converse, sneaker, fashion
Converse x Feng Chen Wang 2-in-1 Chuck 70 High Top Quartz Pink R2 799

chuck taylor, converse, style, fashion

Chuck Taylor All Star Reflective Camo Low Top Ash Stone R1 299

all star, sneaker, fashion, trends

Chuck 70 Classic High Top, R1 199

all star, sneaker, fashion, trends

Converse Run Star Motion High Top, R2 099

all star, sneaker, fashion, trends

Chuck Taylor All Star Move Platform High Top R1 399

Additional information supplied by Styling Concepts on behalf of Converse

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