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American Icon: The Basketball History of the Converse All Star

Converse Basketball History Web11Converse Basketball History Web11

When the Converse Rubber Shoe Company began manufacturing athletic goods in 1910, Dr. James Naismith’s ideas for a recreational pastime tentatively called ‘Basket Ball’ were still at a primitive stage. In 1917, Converse responded to growing demand for a basketball-specific shoe with the ‘Non-Skid’, a high-top sneaker named after its grippy diamond-patterned outsole. Three years later, the shoe was retitled the ‘All Star’ and the name quickly became synonymous with the sport itself. For the next half-century, the All Star’s on-court supremacy was indomitable. It was worn – and loved – by amateurs and Olympians alike.

We’ve been bugging Converse for the keys to their archive forever, and this year they finally relented, inviting Sneaker Freaker to their Boston headquarters to explore over 3500 items stored inside the temperature-controlled vault. As we approach 100 years of the All Star, and Converse continues to innovate the beloved silhouette with the brand new , it’s important to acknowledge where this journey began. Time to kick back and lace up, as we examine a century of Converse history, and pay tribute to the greatest basketball sneaker of them all.

So, next time you pick up your pair of All Stars, take a minute to appreciate the century of development that has gone into that pair of shoes. Forged in the earliest days of basketball, and refined over decades of play, there’s more to the humble canvas All Star than you might think!

Big thanks to Converse Archivist Sam Smallridge for all the help! If you want to know more, check out our full All Star basketball history mega feature in Issue 36.

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