All Star Decline: Are Converses Not ‘Cool’ Anymore?

Converses are cool, period. A 109-year-old brand that hasn’t needed to regularly reinvent itself because of the uniqueness of it says that more than anything; its identity is known by all.

Sure, the flamboyant patterns and an array of colours help to keep the shoe ‘with the times’, but the identity has stayed the same; the recognition the same, and that’s why you can go back to the 70s and still spot the shoe as if it came out of production yesterday:

Danny Zuko in Grease – Image Source: Blog Spot

Although not everyone can pull off Converses – or high shorts, for that matter – like Danny Zuko, we’ve all had our time with the shoe; we’ve all at one stage in our life gone: ‘yeah, why not? That’s something I want to rep’ as you don your overly skinny jeans which you continue to struggle to fit into after they’ve had a wash; never mind, we’ll carry on wearing them until they have that inevitable rip down the crotch area.

But the Converses’ greatest gift – of appealing to everyone – from punks to jocks, summed up by one of the company’s taglines: “We started on the court and got adopted on the street”, is what is the brand’s achilles heel. The fact that every Tom, Dick and Harry has had their hands on them at one stage or another is what is killing the market:

“If all of a sudden everyone and their mother is wearing Converse, you don’t like it anymore. It’s not about luxury. It’s about brand positioning. And making something special doesn’t mean making it expensive.”

–Sam Poser, Susquehanna Financial Group LLLP analyst

Converses sales were recorded to have fallen 16% in a year when made public by the beginning of this September, and despite sales increasing in countries like China, North America is where sales are plummeting; the heart of the shoe.

Of course, Converse have experienced their own hardships, such as filing for bankruptcy in 2001, only to be bought out by Nike two years later; this is therefore not a crisis by any stretch of the imagination. But, perhaps the shoe needs some changes to the Chuck Taylor All Star model if it is to continue its foothold as the shoe everyone wants.