Converse has redesigned its iconic canvas basketball shoe – the Chuck Taylor All Star – to appeal to a growing audience of non-sports-playing sneaker fans in the music, fashion, arts and design industries (+ slideshow).
"Since its debut in 1917, the Chuck Taylor All Star has become one of the world's most celebrated sneakers, with fans, artists and musicians adopting the brand as a badge of creativity and self-expression," said a statement from Converse, the 100-year-old American shoe company now owned by Nike.
"The Chuck Taylor All Star II is designed to meet the demands of the creative lifestyle and is built for the next generation of self-expression."
The original design's rubber toe-cap, All Star ankle patch and textured foxing – the white rubber strip that connects the sole to the canvas upper – have all been retained.
A sole liner has been added to cushion the wearer's feet and provide arch support using Nike's Lunarlon foam material, which has been a key feature in a number of its most successful recent basketball shoe designs.
A strip of padding has been added around the collar of the shoe, and the tongue has been given a non-slip finish. A perforated artificial micro-suede upper liner has also been introduced to help prevent the wearer's feet from getting too hot and sweaty.
"The Chuck Taylor All Star is one of the most legendary and iconic sneakers of all time," said Jim Calhoun, president and CEO of Converse. "The launch of Chuck II is a ground-breaking moment for Converse as we continue to move the brand forward through creativity and innovation, ushering in not just a new sneaker, but a completely new way of thinking."
The redesign is available in both a classic high-top style, and a low-cut version – with a rectangular patch at the top of the tongue – and is available in black, red, blue and all-white for its first release on 28 July.
Converse began producing its basketball shoes in 1917, to compete with ball manufacturer Spalding. The now iconic Converse Chuck Taylor All Star design is named after a basketball player of the same name, who helped refine and improve the design of the shoes and became a Converse spokesman in the 1920s.
It was Taylor's suggestion to add a protective patch to the ankle, which led to the addition of the distinctive round reinforcement with its star-shaped logo on the side of the high-top shoes. Taylor's name was added to the patch in 1932.
The shoes found a new wave of fans in the Indie music movement of the 1990s and early 2000s, and remain a steetwear staple.
Nike bought Converse in 2003, in a deal that was then worth an estimated $305 million. The Converse range was the first to be marketed under its own name, rather than under the Nike banner.
According to the brand, this is the first time that the shoes have been redesigned since Taylor's day, although Converse has collaborated with artists and designers to create a variety of prints for the canvas uppers. Comme des Garçons is one of the longest standing fashion collaborators, replacing the star logo with its red heart-shaped motif.
In 2012, Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer included a Chuck Taylor design in his collection of sneakers and slip-ons for Converse, featuring a handwritten poem celebrating the "sensual curve" for which his architecture is famous.
Recent additions include Converse X Missoni, with the Italian fashion house adding its distinctive zigzag textile design to the trainers, and a partnership with avant-garde French label Maison Margiela, which covered Chuck Taylors in white paint that cracked when dry to expose peeks of the underlying fabric colour.
Sports brands are increasingly targeting a fashion and street-style audience, adapting the technologies created for athletes and working with designers to make their footwear and clothing more appealing for a wider audience.
Recent examples have included Nike's capsule collection with Japanese fashion studio Sacai, as well as Adidas' partnership with musician Kanye West and footwear collaborations with fashion designers Raf Simons and Rick Owens. Musician Pharrell Williams recently recruited architect Zaha Hadid to help redesign the Adidas' classic shell-toe trainers.
Nike has also been revisiting and updating a number of its design classics recently. Last year it reissued its iconic Zvezdochka trainers designed by Marc Newson, ten years after the shoes were first launched.