Day 54: A Brief Visual History Of The Sci-Fi Con (…verse)

Today’s Cons might look like any old black hi-tops, but look closely, and you’ll see, these truly are classics. With a guest appearance by Mini-Me cons

Feb 23 a

Feb 23 b

These are special trainers. They may not look it to you. They may look like any old Converse All-Star black hi-tops. But there’s one important difference. And no, I don’t mean they  come with their own Mini-Me Chucks.

You look at the “MADE IN” label in your Cons, and I’m 99.9% sure it’ll say China, Vietnam or Indonesia. If you look very closely at the label in this pair, you’ll see – although very faded – it says “MADE IN USA”.

Feb 23 made in USA

feb 23 gYes, these are a pair of original, American-made Cons before Converse moved production of its famous footwear to the Far East around 2001. Many people assume that happened as a result of Nike buying Converse, but that actually happened later, in 2003. The sad fact is that by the arse end of the 20th century Converse was a struggling company, its ownership and management swapping several times. In 2001 Converse filed for bankruptcy, another new management took over and that’s when all the North American factories were closed and Asian factories took over.

I knew none of this at the time. I just slowly became aware that other people’s Cons were looking a bit different. A bit rubbish, in fact. The rubber looked really shiny and plasticky; the toe caps were the wrong shape; the stitching was really prominent; worst of all, the sole at the front seemed to curl up making everyone who wore them look they they has deformed toes. (People in the know say they even smelled differently when you opened the box.)

That’s when I went online. That’s when I found out the truth. Oh God! A classic design was going down the tubes.

Feb 23 labelSo in fact, we should be thankful to Nike (even though all the sweatshop accusations remain) because when the Disney of leisurewear bought Converse in ’03, it actually improved the design and quality of the All-Star again. The Nike All-Star still isn’t quite the same as the original All-Star, but it’s near enough (I’d love to know whether you think you can see a difference to today’s Cons from these photos). And in some ways – he says, somewhat sacrilegiously – even an improvement. With original Cons my the toe caps invariably had holes in them within weeks, and the tabs on the heels rarely stayed in place long; both problems you no longer find with current Cons.

And since we’re talking Cons, here’s another Sunday treat feature for you…

Sci-Fi & Fantasy’s Most

Prominent Converse All-Stars Wearers

I did try to find  a few more female examples, but though Clare (Heroes), Rose and Amy (both Doctor Who) wore Chucks on occasion, they weren’t exactly a defining sartorial statement for them. Let me know if I’ve missed somebody obvious. And sorry, Doctor Who fans, I couldn’t honestly place “Sand Shoes” above Chuck; hell even the name of the show had an All-Stars connection!

• starman• 14-13• MisfitsAll Tomorrow's PartiesTHE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES• 7 I robot20120225Continuum4 Sin City• 3-2 doctor bill ted• 1 Chuck

Usual sign-off:

Current total: £475  

• Remember this is all for charity, so any pennies or pounds you can spare PLEASE DONATE BY CLICKING HERE.

• Follow me on Twitter to make sure you see what trainers I’m wearing each day.

• If you have any trainers you could donate (either on loan or old pairs you’re getting rid of) which are size 9 (ish – I can do anything from 8 to 10) contact me at dave.golder@futurenet.com so we can arrange collection.

• Please, please, please leave comments below! I’m after ideas for mini-challenges, future photoshoots and how I can find enough pairs of trainers!

Cheers
Dave G

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One thought on “Day 54: A Brief Visual History Of The Sci-Fi Con (…verse)

  1. Angela Songui says:

    Hello Dave,
    Wow – I came upon your site while researching for my MA in Museum and Gallery Studies at Kingston U. A life-long Converse wearer and sci-fi fan, your site has provided more terrific connections & ideas for an upcoming module project than one click could have predicted.
    I would love to email with you about your collection of trainers and your project…and of course, give props and a donation to your cause.
    Best of luck and thanks for the great read(s)
    Angela Songui

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