Everybody knows the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star shoes. They are basically the most popular shoes in the world having existed for over a hundred years already. Since it was first released in 1917, it has become the best-selling basketball shoes of all time. Some would even argue that the Chucks are the all-time best shoes in the world given as how they have survived the test of time and are still widely used to this day.
But as popular as the Chucks are, does anyone really know who the man on the shoe is? His name may be on the shoes but do people really know who Chuck Taylor is?
Born in the basketball-crazy state of Indiana back 1901, Charles Hollis “Chuck” Taylor grew up as a basketball player during the early days of the sport. Back then, basketball was not even a fraction of how big the sport is today. Hardly anybody played basketball back then as baseball ruled American. However, Chuck made a name for himself in basketball and would go pro straight out of high school.
When the Converse All Star sneakers came out in 1917, they were not known as the Chucks. Converse was just an upstart athletic shoe company aiming to make a buck out of being one of the first companies to sell basketball shoes on a wide scale. However, sales weren’t strong back then and were only enough to keep the company running. After all, basketball was not really so popular back in those days.
In 1921, Chuck Taylor would join Converse. But he wasn’t the Michael Jordan or the LeBron James of Converse. He wasn’t an endorser for the shoe company but was merely a salesman aiming to make some money while doubling as a professional basketball player at a time when pro ballers didn’t make a lot of money. This was a time when basketball players weren’t getting paid millions of dollars just to have their names on the shoe and when signature sneakers were being sold by the millions without any effort on the part of the athlete. Instead, Chuck worked his butt off to sell the shoes as a sneaker salesman.
Accounts claim that Chuck Taylor joined Converse Chicago one day when he complained about sore feet and asked the company to make a basketball shoe. The rest was history as Taylor helped Converse redesign the shoes to make it a better fit for basketball. He also used his status as a basketball player to his advantage when he was selling the shoes. Chuck Taylor would travel all around America as an advocate of the sport. He played basketball for Converse and was going around from town to town to conduct clinics and to promote the Converse All Star sneakers.
Because of how the shoes were selling so quickly even amidst the Great Depression, Converse would attribute the success to Chuck Taylor by putting his name on the shoe’s patch. This made both Converse and Chuck Taylor more popular respectively as a brand and as a basketball personality.
But again, Taylor was not Michael Jordan, who made millions when Nike decided to put his name on a sneaker. Chuck didn’t even get a commission for every sneaker sold. Instead, he was content with living his life as a shoe salesman and as a basketball personality that received a good salary from Converse. But little did he know that such a life would have a huge impact on the sneaker world today. After a century, the Converse Chuck Taylors are still a big part of the shoe culture not as basketball sneakers but as lifestyle and street footwear for the everyday person. Even as different companies have developed technology to make the Chucks obsolete in the world of basketball, the sneakers still live strong today thanks largely to how Taylor helped develop it during its early stages.