Colabs that Helped Make the Converse Chuck Taylor More Relevant Than Ever
Technical performance kicks made the transition from the courts and the tracks to the sidewalks long ago, and the Chuck Taylor was at the forefront of the casual sneaker movement.
First introduced in the 1920s when American semi-professional basketballer Chuck Taylor asked Converse to redesign its signature offering for more support and flexibility, Taylor’s namesake All Stars left the parquet of the hardwood in the 1980s. New technology meant that footwear could be better engineered for the rigours of basketball, and styles like the Fast Break, Star Tech, and Cons became on-court go-tos.
The Chuck took this move away from the court in its stride, as Converse lightened the load of the design with a thinner, more flexible sole, and a lighter canvas build that was perfect for everyday wear. The kicks quickly became an off-court staple, and the rest is history.
A Return to 1970s Specifications
Given its timeless aesthetic and seemingly simplistic construction, an overhaul may have seemed unexpected at first glance, but Converse thought the time was right to give the Chuck a makeover in 2013.
Returning the design to its pre-1980s specifications, when it was still crashing the boards on the parquet, the Chuck 70 made a number of important changes. A new 12oz canvas weave and a second interior layer beefed-up the silhouette alongside a denser rubber outsole with deeper grooves, thicker and glossier foxing tape, and nickel-plated eyelets. The new construction also meant that Converse could ditch the plastic heel cap found inside ‘standard’ Chucks, thus offering a more dynamic fit that, when coupled with cushy foam insoles and built-up arch support, made the silhouette more comfortable than ever.
Period-correct details like leather ankle patches and the lack of a tongue badge only sweetened the deal.
A Collaborator’s Blank Canvas
Converse launched the revamped Chuck to much fanfare in 2013, offering a smattering of colourways in both high- and low-top form. Converse quickly upped the ante, however, by teaming with a bevy of esteemed collaborators to offer their own takes on the silhouette.
Even before the debut of the Chuck 70, the All Star had been the subject of graphic-led makeovers and design-driven overhauls for years, serving as a blank canvas for the brand’s in-house design team and third-party partners alike. This has come to a fever pitch in the years since the debut of the Chuck 70, as colabs with high-profile retailers and designers have elevated the humble design to a whole new level.
Below, we take a look back at some of our favourite Chucks from the past few years, as the likes of Concepts, Missoni, CDG, Virgil Abloh, and Tyler, The Creator have made the design more relevant than ever.
Maison Margiela x Converse Chuck 70
Year: 2013 and 2014
Maison Margiela was one of the first collaborators to take on the revamped Chuck 70, covering both it and the Jack Purcell in white paint that flaked away over time for a truly one-of-a-kind look. Margiela and Converse dropped canvas versions of the colabs in 2013 before following them up with a leather construction the following year.
Converse Chuck 70 ‘Vintage Flag’
American flag—inspired Chucks have long been a Converse staple. The brand celebrated the US’s Memorial Day holiday in 2014 with a vintage version of the design, which was limited to just 1,300 pairs.
Concepts x Converse Chuck 70 ‘Zaire Leopard Camo’
Boston-based Concepts appropriately looked back to the 1970s when taking on the Chuck 70. Its high-top creation came covered in a leopard-spotted camo motif favoured by the Zairean army during the decade, and featured military-inspired pins and mole-style webbing to boot.
Missoni x Converse Fall/Winter 2014 Chuck 70
Italian fashion house Missoni and Converse have a long-standing collaborative relationship. Their Fall/Winter 2014 drop is one of their best co-branded endeavours, and featured everything from zig-zag knits and boro-inspired patchwork to sheep wool lining and vertically-applied zippers.
Converse Chuck 70 ‘Andy Warhol Custom’
The iconic Andy Warhol rocked Chuck Taylors for years, and Converse’s collaboration with the late artist’s estate re-created his customised kicks.
Comme des Garçons Play x Converse Chuck 70
CDG have collaborated with Converse on both the Chuck and the Jack Purcell over the years. A long-time favourite, the Chucks got an overhaul in 2015 with bigger logos and the 70s build.
Stussy x Converse Chuck 70 ‘Stussy 35’
Stussy celebrated its 35-year anniversary in 2015 by applying its ‘Tom Tom’ print to high- and low-top Chuck silhouettes, each with embroidered canvas uppers and translucent rubber outsoles.
Converse Chuck 70 Ox ‘Natural’
Whereas some of the most iconic Chucks are big and bold, this in-house design from 2016 is as understated as they come. Not only did the low-top feature a natural-coloured canvas upper, it also ditched the usual foxing stripe for an even cleaner look.
Nigel Cabourn x Converse Chuck 70
British designer Nigel Cabourn perfectly translated his signature ‘Cameraman’ Jacket into a piece of footwear with his 2016 Converse colab, bringing Ventile and Harris Tweed construction to the high-top alongside ‘Fireman’ buckles and tonal colourways.
fragment design x Converse Chuck 70 Ox
The godfather of streetwear himself, Hiroshi Fujiwara, elevated the Chuck to black tie status in 2017 as he followed up a Friends and Family release with four suit-inspired low-tops that featured timeless black, white and grey looks, and some subtle pinstripes.
Neighborhood x Converse Chuck 70
Shinsuke Takizawa combined his loves for motorcycles and streetwear by turning the Chuck into a motorcycle boot, adding leather reinforcements to the black canvas upper, along with bold midfoot straps and Neighborhood’s usual military-inspired branding.
Carhartt WIP x Converse Chuck 70 Ox
Carhartt’s Work In Progress imprint brought its workwear sensibilities to the Chuck 70 in 2017. Low-top Ox iterations of the 70 donned a trio of WIP’s oft-utilised fabrics: ‘Hamilton Brown’ duck canvas, off-white drill, and tiger-striped camouflage ripstop.
Off-White x Converse Chuck 70 ‘The Ten'
Unveiled as part of his coveted ‘The Ten’ collaboration with Nike in 2017, Virgil Abloh’s transformed Chucks finally arrived in 2018. Overhauled with Off-White branding cues, translucent construction, and an icy sole, Abloh’s Chucks are arguably the most coveted of all time, and came complete with the beloved red zip tie.
Off-White x Converse Chuck 70 ‘Stripe’
Abloh followed up his instant-classic translucent Chucks with a more prototypical canvas pair in October 2018. Off-White branding aside, the highlight was undoubtedly the striped rubber foxing and bright orange outsole.
Converse Chuck 70 ‘Manypatch’
Covered in the iconic Chuck Taylor All Star patch, the ‘Manypatch’ Chuck 70 is one of Converse’s best in-house executions, and a welcome entry into the trendy overbranded stable.
MADNESS x Converse Chuck 70
Shawn Yue’s Hong Kong—based MADNESS took on the royal blue version of the high-top 70 with a material-led execution. Yue and company swapped out the lateral canvas panels for hairy suede while adding heel pull tabs and injecting some more blue into the signature leather Chuck Taylor patch.
Brain Dead x Converse Chuck 70
Brain Dead’s graphic-led aesthetic and penchant for patterns works flawlessly on an otherwise simplistic design like the Chuck, and this year’s collaborative 70s perfectly illustrated that point. Taking cues from the Converse archives, Kyle Ng and Ed Davis brought together a number of different prints to create an asymmetrical classic.
Carhartt WIP x Converse Chuck 70 Ox
Following a trio of drops in 2017, Carhartt WIP dropped two more Chucks in 2018. The highlight? A tri-coloured nod to the brand’s Milner Shirt Jacket that features suede and shaggy wool construction in ‘Mulberry’, ‘Loden’, and navy hues.
Tyler, The Creator x Converse Chuck 70 ‘Artist Series’
Fresh off a collection of burlap-constructed kicks, Tyler, The Creator and Converse were back at it with the debut of a special ‘Artist Series’ for Foot Locker. The release also included the One Star and tapped two young artists for the Tyler-curated drop: friend Wyatt Navarro and Øyvind Lauvdahl, a Norwegian artist that Tyler discovered through Instagram.