Converse is an American shoe company that primarily produces skating shoes and lifestyle brand footwear and apparel. Founded in 1908, it has been a subsidiary of Nike, Inc. since 2003. During World War II, the company shifted its manufacturing from the public, and instead made footwear for the military. It was one of the few producers of athletic shoes and for over a half century the company dominated the American court shoe market. From the 1970s, the company lost its dominant position after other companies presented their own styles. Converse shoes are distinguished by a number of features, including the company’s star insignia, the All Star’s rubber sole, smooth rounded toe, and wrap-around strip. Converse manufactures its products under the Cons, Chuck Taylor All-Star, John Varvatos, and Jack Purcell trade names. In addition to apparel and footwear, the company sells other items through retailers in over 160 countries and through approximately 75 company-owned retail stores across the United States, and employed 2,658 in the U.S. in 2015. At age 47, Marquis Mills Converse, who was previously a manager at a footwear manufacturing firm, opened the Converse Rubber Shoe Company in February 1908 in Malden, Massachusetts. The company was a rubber shoe manufacturer, providing winterizedrubber soled footwear for men, women, and children. By 1910, Converse was producing shoes daily, but it was not until 1915 that the company began manufacturing athletic shoes. The company’s catalyst came in 1917 when the Converse All-Star basketball shoe was introduced. Then in 1923, a basketball player named Charles H. “Chuck” Taylor walked into Converse complaining of sore feet. Converse gave him a job: he worked as a salesman and ambassador, promoting the shoes around the U.S., and in 1932 Taylor’s signature was added to the All-Star patch on the classic, high-topped sneakers. He continued this work until shortly before his death in 1969. Converse also customized shoes for the New York Renaissance (the “Rens”), the first all–African American professional basketball team. In 1962, center Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scored 100 points in an NBA game while wearing a pair of Chucks, taking a 169–147 victory over the New York Knicks in Hershey, Pennsylvania on March 2.
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