The most influential sneaker of all time has to be the Converse Chuck Taylor. Since 1917, the canvas high-top sneaker ran from hoop to hoop on countless basketball courts and evolved along the way to become the staple shoe in everyone’s closet from your childhood best friend to Rihanna.
But as the classic sneaker evolved, Converse eventually took a look back and in 2013, released the Chuck 70, a revival of its Chuck Taylor sneaker from the late 1960s and 1970s. The 70s brought a chunkier look back with a taller sidewall and sculpted silhouette while also playing on its vintage looks with yellowish-tinted rubber, reminiscent of an aged vintage sneaker. Its handsome looks paired with the upgraded components helped solidify the Chuck 70 as a mainstay sneaker for the brand seven years on and has since seen collaborative iterations with a bevy of notable designers and celebrities including Brain Dead, Carhartt WIP, Dover Street Market and JW Anderson.
Other than aesthetics, what else is different? Is the $30 price jump worth it? And most importantly, which version is right for you?
Can this classic defend its crown against a revitalized retro reproduction?
The canvas upper has a smooth hand and feels about as light as New Yorker tote bag.
This is the padding you’ve come to expect from a pair of Chuck Taylors. Enough cushion to get you through the day easily, but certainly not an orthopedic oasis.
Here, the sole material is flexible, but not flimsy. Next to the Chuck 70s, however, that becomes even more clear.
The aglets at the laces and for ventilation are silver-toned and matte, but otherwise look identical to the alternative.
The laces are a true white to match the matte white rubber of the outsole and toe cap.
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The Chuck 70’s fabric is the first thing you notice before even putting on the shoes. The 12-ounce cotton canvas is beefier and more substantial. There’s also an extra layer of canvas stitched into the upper at either side of the vamp.
The insole feels more supportive and more spongey than the Classic Chuck. This is more evident at the balls of the foot.
While both soles look very similar, it feels as though the Chuck 70s are slightly grippier, despite having less-defined grooves than the Classics.
The metal eyelets match the rubber. That is to say that the eyelets are also shiny, compared to the matte finish of the Classic Chuck.
It’s no surprise here that laces also feel like an upgrade. The laces are denser and thicker.
A major appeal for the Chuck 70 is its silhouette. The last for the retro contender gives the sneaker more structure. But the looser and lighter All Star is an icon for a reason. Why redo it?
Go with the Classic Chuck if you like its shape over the Chuck 70 and you’d rather save $30. The uppers of the Classic Chuck have a smoother hand than its retro version, plus it’s more flexible to begin with. The Classics are also noticeably lighter overall, but, interestingly, the heel counter is significantly more stiff than the 70s. This should help keep the shoes hold their shape over time.
Though the shiny varnish on the rubber of the 70s evokes a vintage feel, it isn’t the most attractive for people who favor a beat-up sneaker. The matte look of the Classic’s eyelets and rubber subdues its looks. If you’ve known and loved the Classic Chucks, you know the saying: if it ain’t broke.
That said, go with the 70s remake if you’re willing to pay a little extra for the upgraded experience. While the Classic Chuck’s uppers feel like a tote bag you’d get as a free gift, the Chuck 70’s canvas uppers feel more like a tote bag you’d have to pay for. That may read as a positive (and ways, it certainly is), it’s also just one of the reasons for the price jump. The 70s have more cushioning than the Classics, so if you need more support, these are also a better choice for you. And the higher rubber sidewall isn’t just for show. It adds more stability to the shoe.
As far as aesthetics are concerned, the 70s have a vintage appeal with a more substantial profile and cream-colored rubber foxing and cap toe.