Wilt Chamberlain dropped 100 in Chucks. That’s right: the first edition of the shoe, the one that endured from 1917 until 2015, the one with almost zero arch support, powered arguably the most famous game in basketball history. Those canvas shoes that wrapped around Wilt’s size 15 feet in 1962 looked the same as those that carried Kurt Cobain through a grunge revolution in 1993. Even when Nike acquired Converse in 2003, they kept the brand’s iconic shoe untouched — until this year.
Rather than attempting an overhaul that could have gone disastrously wrong, Nike chose to make subtle improvements in the Chuck Taylor All Star II. The once-flat arch is now bolstered by lightweight foam from Nike’s proprietary Lunarlon sole, which is the same stuff the company puts in some of their Flyknits and Hyperdunks. The cushioning technology, said to be inspired by moonwalking astronauts, spreads impact evenly across the foot, reducing pressure points. The tongue got a material improvement with the addition of no-slip micro-suede lining that keeps it in place. Aesthetically, the Chuck IIs were upgraded with an embroidered patch, replacing the stamped style of old, and matte eyelets that smartly match the color of the shoe.
There is no “LUNARLON” logo dominating the midsole and no “Converse by Nike” stamped on the heel. In an age where corporate excess is almost expected, it’s refreshing and brilliant that Nike kept this heirloom of American style sacred. converse.com
Materials: Tencel canvas, micro-suede lining
Sole: Nike’s patented Lunarlon
Made In: China, Vietnam, Indonesia