Converse: Definitions for the Clothing & Footwear Industry

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Converse is an American shoe company that has been selling shoes since the early 20th century. Marquis M. Converse opened the business in Malden, Massachusetts in 1908, as a rubber shoe manufacturer. Its main turning point came in 1917 when the canvas "All-Star" was introduced. Then in 1918, a basketball player named Charles H. "Chuck" Taylor  walked into Converse complaining of sore feet.  Converse gave him a job. His work as a salesman and ambassador, promoting the shoes around the United States so impressed Converse that in 1923, Chuck Taylor's name began appearing on the ankle patch, and the shoes became affectionately known as Chucks. He tirelessly continued this work until shortly before his death in 1969.

For decades, Chucks only came in black or white, but under pressure from basketball teams it was decided in 1966 to manufacture many different colors. Different materials started to appear also, such as leather, suede and vinyl, and even hemp, rather than just canvas.

Converse's line of shoes also include Jack Purcell and Heritage.

Wildly popular during the 1970s and early 1980s, Converse lost some of its popularity and apparent monopoly during the mid-1980s and much of the 1990s, with the surge of new competitors such as Nike, who introduced radical new designs to the market. Converse found themselves to be no longer the official shoe of the National Basketball Association, a title they had enjoyed for many, many years. This 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 U.S.A., but instead in a number of Asian countries, including China, Indonesia and Vietnam.

On July 9, 2003, the company accepted a $305 million purchase offer from rival Nike.

Despite the major setbacks for Converse in recent times, the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star is the most successful shoe in history. By the turn of the 21st century, over 600 million pairs have been sold worldwide. They no longer seem to be worn by their original target market of basketballers (at least not in the professional sphere), but instead by the average boy or girl in the street. Some are so enthusiastic about the sneakers that they have a vast, ever-growing collection. They are also quite popular amongst musicians. Converse All Stars have been popular for decades in the American punk and indie rock scenes, and Hollywood has popularized Chucks in countless motion pictures.

In addition, Converse had a famous television ad campaign during the early 1980s for the Chuck Taylors, featuring Larry Bird, Julius Erving and Magic Johnson, who commented "They're everywhere!" on the commercials.

The BSD Daemon is commonly depicted wearing a pair of Converse shoes, particularly in the versions used by FreeBSD.

Converse currently has Andre Miller, Mike Sweetney, Jameer Nelson, Kirk Hinrich, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade as endorsers in the NBA.

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