If someone were to ask you what the best selling basketball shoe of all-time is, what would you say? A lot of people would probably answer Nike’s Air Jordans, or maybe even the Reebok Pumps. But they would be wrong. The most popular selling basketball shoe of all-time is the Converse “Chuck Taylor” All Stars. To date, over 600,000,000 pairs of Chucks have been sold worldwide.
When the Converse All Star was first introduced in 1917 it came in one color, black. The All Star was the first mass produced shoe in North America, and was meant to target basketball players. With more and more people playing the game, there was a definite opening in the sneaker industry that needed to be filled.
Then in 1921, Charles H. Taylor came along and made the All Stars his own. Taylor was a player for the Akron Firestones when he first came across the design by Converse. He was so convinced that they were the next big thing that he joined the converse sales force. He then spent two years promoting the All Stars to basketball enthusiasts all over North America. And then in 1923 Converse decided to reward him by placing his name, Chuck Taylor, on the ankle patch. It was then that the best selling basketball shoe of all-time was born.
Shortly after Chuck got his name added to the sneaker, shoe sales took off. Every basketball team in the country, as well as every American boy, was clamoring to get their hands on a pair of Chucks. This huge following soon prompted Converse to start producing a white version of the All Stars as well.
The Chucks sold steadily for 20 years, and then after World War II they took off again. Basketball teams all over the country were buying both black and white chucks and putting colored laces in them. They were also sucking up white All-Stars and dying them to match their uniforms. In 1966, the Converse Corporation started to mass produce the chucks in a variety of different colors, sending sales off the charts.
By 1966, Converse controlled approximately 80% of the sneaker industry. Nearly every basketball player in the country was wearing the Chuck Taylor All-Stars.
Over the years many great players wore the Chucks. I bet you did not know that Wilt Chamberlain set the NBA scoring record in 1962 while wearing Chucks. The shoe was also worn by legendary players Pete Maravich, Julius Erving, and Magic Johnson.
As the basketball shoe evolved, the number of players wearing the Chucks declined. By the late 80’s the Chucks had been replaced by more comfortable shoes that offered better protection.
Even though they are not used much for basketball anymore, the Chucks still sell. Every week, approximately 30,000 pairs are sold worldwide.
The Converse “Chuck Taylor” All Stars set the bar for the basketball shoe industry. And the best part is that they have not changed one bit since the first pair was introduced back in 1923.