Chuck Taylors: The Basketball Shoes That Went Punk Rock

By Kellar Ellsworth
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.