Chuck Taylors: The Basketball Shoes That Went Punk Rock

By | June 20, 2020

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Left: high-top Chucks in basic black. Right: Kurt Cobain of Nirvana was always seen in his low-top Chucks. Sources: Wikimedia Commons; Kevin Mazur Archive 1/WireImage)

Converse All-Stars, also called "Chuck Taylors" or simply "Chucks," found new life as a rock 'n roll shoe after they disappeared from basketball courts. Members of The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Blondie and The Clash were all known to wear Chucks, but the inexpensive general-purpose sneaker was also a favorite of Elvis Presley and George Harrison. You just couldn't really go wrong with Chucks -- the basic canvas-and-rubber design makes a casual retro-sporty shoe for people who don't necessarily play sports. And as we saw time and again, whether it's a famous rock star or a struggling art-school student, Chucks wearers tended to wear them into the ground. The more grime and abuse, the better. Since the late '70s, Chucks have been a fixture of street style.

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Chuck Taylors and high socks were NBA staples for many years. (kickz)

Chucks span the course of modern American history. The iconic shoes with a star date back nearly to basketball's peach basket days and continue through to the feet of Gen Z kids today. The basketball star who popularized the seminal sneaker, Charles “Chuck” Taylor in the ’20s, traversed the country organizing basketball clinics to help sell Converse All Stars.

Obviously, Taylor did a hell of a job as Chuck Taylors became the de facto basketball shoe for over 30 years. However, somewhere along the line Chuck Taylors lost their athletic luster but gained some serious street cred, becoming the coolest shoes on the block.