Converse: trend or tradition?

We’ve all seen them. In fact, an SPU student who doesn’t know what Converse All Stars are has not been paying attention to what’s on people’s feet.

The wearers of these timeless shoes have been athletic, punk, rebels, artists, nerds, rock stars, presidents, thrift shoppers and, of course, SPU students.

For over a decade, Converse has been on students’ feet, but what makes these shoes so long lasting, and are they in danger of being threatened by other brands of shoes?

The credit for the long lasting popularity of All Stars could be given to the peer pressure, the "Oh, look at those shoes, I want some like them" persona, as Sophomore Sarah Thomas puts it.

But can a shoe which has lasted decades in the student wardrobe really have survived merely on popularity?

Most guesses would be no, but then there must be another answer for what makes these shoes so everlastingly popular.

Despite the fact that Converse All Stars, or "Chucks," provide poor arch support, many people have said one of the main reasons for wearing their Converse shoes was their comfortable aspect.

Missy Howard, a freshman, said she still wears her pair of light purple beat up Converse shoes, which she’s had since the seventh grade, outdoors so, "my feet don’t die" from her lifestyle of river kayaking and tubing.

But living in the Northwest climate, where rain and cold weather are prevalent, how exactly are these shoes, which have no insulation and actually have holes on the in-facing sides, a practical and, more importantly, comfortable choice for students living here?

Perhaps instead of the shoes themselves being comfortable, it’s more so the feeling the owner gets while wearing the shoes.

Ethan Miller, a freshman said one of the main reasons he was first attracted to the shoes was because he is particular about the fit of his jeans around his shoes and Converse just works.

Sarah Thomas, a sophomore, said one of the reasons she enjoyed her shoes was because she "liked the way they looked."

And Howard said she was first attracted to the shoes because, "They’re different than other shoes out there."

Whatever the reason, students on campus seem eagerly ready to embrace these shoes, which can match with seemingly anything, and with the economic times of trying to find low-cost consumer items, it would seem that Converse is a clear winner.

But once again, the question pops up of whether a shoe created in the 1920s for athletes can withstand the test of time in students’ top ten?

The apparent answer for the moment on campus seems to be an overwhelming yes since, walking around, you can see more than a few students sporting them.

Who exactly wears All Stars, however, very likely might have come as a shock to their original creators

Most of the students on campus who wear Converse are women.

While today this change is no problem, All Star creator, Chuck Taylor, who is said to have created the shoes almost exclusively for the male athletic consumer, might have been surprised that they now seem to have found their largest market among the opposite gender.

Noticing this trend, Miller didn’t seem to find any problem with seeing more girls on campus wearing Chucks, and actually seemed to enjoy the exclusivity that being a minority wearing these shoes brings.

Miller said that, although he saw most girls wearing Converse, men on campus seem to wear more TOMS Shoes, "Which is cool, because I don’t like wearing what everyone else is wearing," Miller said.

Perhaps, since for years Converse All Stars were considered the "rebel shoe," those who are devout wearers are keeping the real meaning of the shoes by wearing them even beyond the trends.

It would seem so, since even in the midst of the upcoming popularity of footwear by TOMS, these students stand fast by their shoe brand, which many have been with since long before college.

Over the diligent years of accumulation, between her initial exposure to Chucks and college, Howard alone has collected a total of eight pairs of Converse, six of which she’s brought with her to SPU.

She explained that most of these pairs of shoes have been from discontinued lines but, "I love them" Howard said.

It would seem this kind of devotion to Converse is due to a sense of community felt by the wearers, but students said they really hadn’t thought about their Converse wearing.

Thomas suggested that, "Maybe we should start a community," as we watched four girls pass by wearing Chucks during our interview.

Whatever the reason for wearing the shoes, it would be a safe guess to say they’re sticking around.

Through years of group adoption and the embracing of different aspects of these shoes, Converse All Stars have shown a track record not easily matched.

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Title: Converse: trend or tradition? | Author: Emily Morehouse | Section: Features | Published Date: 2008-12-10 | Internal ID: 5751