The company is revamping its iconic Chuck Taylor All Star again — this time for Generation Z.
According to the source link from Business of Fashion, Converse has grown to 2 billion a year since Nike acquired the brand at 305 million dollars. That’s nothing to overlook in an industry that is shifting daily.
The article also posed a question of whether Converse can move beyond the Chuck? The answer is no, and it shouldn’t.
I operate a small e-commerce sneaker shop. I should say barely operate. In the last three years the business has become saturated with other sellers, fakes, and early releases crush retail prices prior to a release. The most important change is that the customer’s comfortable approach to purchasing is wiping out small websites.
Big box retail stores are dying and clothing and footwear companies are following suit. Yesterday NPD’s Matt Powell posted a report on how Sportswear Is Catching the Disease That’s Killing Retail. In the story he discusses that sportswear has always been aspirational. I’ve said as much on this site. Marketing of sportswear made athletes “Gods”. They were these unreachable, physical specimens who accomplished tasks that the regular person could only hope to reach once in their life.
The visuals and marketing behind these athletes and materials that inspired people to buy, is what pushed people towards retail. The Chuck Taylor languished in this environment having last had Dennis Rodman and Larry Johnson as endorsers of its footwear in the 90s. People laughed at GrandMaMa (LJ) and feared, or were astonished by the acts of the Worm (Rodman). The basketball footwear didn’t sell very well and performance footwear was leaving the Chuck behind so Converse sold.
Nike has done some amazing things with the brand, but they want to do what any good company that has seen growth needs to do. They want to diversify and not rely so heavily upon one model. The problem is that model is synonymous with rebellion and cool, at a very affordable price. The problem that was noted in Powell’s article is that the Chuck has been marked down along with every shoe in the store to drive traffic. Converse isn’t growing, but it isn’t doomed, so what is the issue?
That is the issue. Nike is attempting to fix Converse, but it isn’t broken. It’s not like the Chuck isn’t selling. It is. Nike wants more, but in this climate where the customer is no longer looking to the athlete as the model for aspirations, marketing won’t help increase sales. A change in the product won’t move the buyer of the shoe.
You can’t fix what isn’t broken, no matter how many ideas you throw at it.
Converse is the Chuck Taylor. It’s synecdoche.