Converse All Star “Chuck Taylor”: Price Over Value
The Converse All Star offers a classic style at a very affordable price point.
Everything the Converse All Star does, the Chuck 70 does better – and with better materials it will last longer too.
|Weight||346 g / 12.2 oz|
|Country of Origin||Vietnam|
The Converse All Star, also known as the Chuck Taylor, is an absolutely classic design. In fact, you probably don’t need me to tell you. Odds are you’ve probably owned a pair. In a study done in 2012, more than 60% of all Americans either own or had owned at least one pair.
Originally starting off as a company which made galoshes, the owner – Marquis Mills Converse – wanted something that would sell in both the summer and winter months. He thought he would try and tap into a sport that was taking off in the United States, basketball. This attempt to keep his business open year round resulted in this – the Converse All Star.
While it might be hard to believe with the current sales figures, the shoe didn’t really take off at launch. Sales were downright slow until basketball player named Charles Taylor started using it during his time on the Akron Firestones. He helped tweak and improve the design, eventually becoming a Converse employee. As a thank you, the brand added his signature to the shoe, and gave them their more common nickname, the “Chuck Taylor.”
Unfortunately, just a few years later, the Converse brand started to get surpassed in technology. The All Star moved from being the latest and greatest to an also-ran. To cut the price and keep the shoe moving, they needed to cut costs. Which they did again, and again, and again.
Converse, now owned by Nike, has since tried to rectify this. They offer the Chuck 70 as an alternative for people who want something a little bit nicer. But where does that leave the humble All Star? Is it worth a pick up? And, are Converse All Stars really slippers? Let’s dive in.
The upper of the Converse All Star is about as basic as a shoe gets. Made up almost entirely of stark white canvas, the Optical White colorway was one of the first colorways to release on this shoe.
The white doesn’t end with the canvas. The stitching, which runs along the eyelets and around the collar, is also bright white. Unfortunately, the stitching on this pair leaves a lot to be desired. From missed stitches to double stitches, this pair suffers from just about every stitching issue you can think of.
On the upper, the only break from the white is the blue and red Converse patch on the top of the tongue. The red, white, and blue gives a hint to the origins of this colorway. The colorway was actually designed as a temporary American Basketball team in the 1936 Olympics. However, it sold well and has been a staple color since.
Inside, the exposed heel cup and the insole are a tan color. Other than that, there isn’t that much going on inside, either.
Elsewhere on the upper, white laces loop through 14 frosted metal eyelets. Much like on the Jack Purcell, I think these frosted eyelets work really well on this simple shoe. Additionally, you’ll find two more metal-lined holes for ventilation on the inside.
Mid- and Outsole
On the midsole of the Converse All Star things get a little bit more interesting.
Starting off, the midsole doesn’t actually end at the midsole. In what is probably the All Star’s most iconic feature, the midsole wraps up onto the toe of the upper, covering much of the front of the shoe in a matte rubber.
As you move down, you’ll find a red line running along the edge of the midsole, separating the upper from the white rubber tape around the midsole (more on that later). The tape is augmented by an additional piece of studded tape up front to protect the sole, and a Converse logo patch in the back where the tape connects. Along the middle of the midsole is a very dark blue – almost black – line, and a texture pattern above and below it.
Turning the shoe upside down, you’ll find an outsole in two different tones of brown. The light brown sections have the Converse diamond pattern for traction, and a darker brown section in between these pads.
The looks of the Converse All Star are classic, though the execution could be much better. The upper is a bit too unstructured, with unfinished edging and poor stitching bring it down further. These are all solved by going with a Chuck 70.
That being said, from 10 feet away nobody will notice a difference. Both the All Star and the Chuck 70 fit in great with a pair of jeans and a classically designed jacket like a varsity or a Harrington. You’ll definitely want to stick to the casual end. If you want something that dresses up a bit nicer, check out the Converse Jack Purcell.
Fit & Comfort
The Converse All Star fits like every other Converse. That means it fits true to your brannock, or, in other words, you’ll want to go down from your typical sneaker size.
Additionally, while they look fairly long and narrow, they are actually very accommodating for a variety of foot shapes. They are definitely wide-foot friendly, and the lack of structure allows for good accommodation for odd shaped feet.
For a full list of sizing for every shoe reviewed by 100wears, click here.
Whereas the Converse All Star offers something for almost everyone in the fit category, when it comes to comfort, these are just about the worst sneaker out there. Below your foot there is almost no padding – the insole, the heel lift, and the outsole are all incredibly thin. It’s basically standing directly on the ground.
To make matters worse, there is zero arch support. And I don’t mean that there isn’t much, the shoe is completely flat. That might be great if you’re lifting weights, but for anything else it’s a major drawback.
For a quick run to the store the flexibility of the shoe is nice, but this is definitely not a shoe you want to wear all day.
Materials & Construction
The upper of the Converse All Star is made of a fairly thin canvas. Unfortunately, the thickness of the upper comes with serious durability concerns. The internet is littered with people who ripped the upper of their shoe from fairly normal wear, and several how-tos on fixing hem.
Unlike the other shoes in the Converse line up, the tongue is held on with just a few centimeters of stitching at the bottom. This is a major point of failure for the shoes. You should be careful not to pull too hard on the tongue because of it. Check out the comparison between the Jack Purcell and the Chuck 70 to see how those are stitched.
Elsewhere, the toecap and the tape around the shoe are made of rubber with reinforcement threads in them.
The Outsole: Are Converse All Stars Really Slippers?
Warning, this review is about to go into the riveting world of international tariffs and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. You won’t hurt my feelings if you jump to the next section.
Here in the United States, we love putting tariffs on things. From the “Chicken Tax” on trucks to imported sneakers, if there is a group to lobby for a tariff, there is probably a tariff in place. The U.S. shoe industry pushed hard for tariffs on imported shoes in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Funnily enough, this group almost certainly included Converse, who made their sneakers in the U.S. at the time. These tariffs amount to almost 40% of the cost of the shoe.
However, while shoe companies have armies of lobbyists, you know who doesn’t? Slipper manufacturers, who face a comparatively small 3% tariff on imported sneakers. While it’s slightly more complicated, one of the key differentiators between a sneaker and a slipper – at least in the US Customs and Border Patrol’s eyes – is if the sole is at least 50% fabric.
That two-toned sole on the Converse All Stars? The darker section is a densely packed fabric, with the smaller light brown sections being rubber.
Are Converse All Stars Slippers? Yes, if you’re the U.S. CBP.
The Converse All Star is made with a vulcanized sole and foxing tape. If you want a deeper dive into that construction, click here. If you just want the short version, the shoe is made by taking a hardened outsole and finished upper, and taping them together with rubber tape.
This type of construction is affordable and offers great feel, but is not long lasting. It often fails at the flex point of the shoe – where the tape and upper can separate. The next most likely is at the back – where the tape and outsole can separate.
That being said, this type of construction is used more for a retro feel than anything else. After all, cemented construction is both cheaper and more durable. Anyone who uses this is choosing it for the look and/or feel. If you want the Converse look, you need to build it this way.
Ease of Care
The Converse All Star is an almost perfect example of a shoe that is designed to be chewed up and spit out. The canvas upper doesn’t take well to repeated washings, and even shoe trees won’t do much to keep it going.
Pricing & Value
Priced at $55, these shoes are at the affordable end of name-brand footwear. To make things even more appealing, they can almost always be found on sale and in outlets. At time of writing, multiple colorways were around $30 on Amazon. If you’re patient, I’ve even seen them drop into the $25-dollar range in less popular colorways.
When it comes to comparisons there are two obvious ones – the All Star’s stablemates in the Chuck 70 and Jack Purcell. Both of these shoes come in at a slightly higher price point, and are much harder to find on sale. Additionally, Vans offers shoes with similar construction and feel, though with more of a skater vibe instead of basketball.
Here at 100wears we’ve had countless examples of shoes not providing a good value because they are too expensive. The Converse All Star is a good example of a shoe that doesn’t provide a good value because it’s too cheap.
In every part of this shoe, it’s clear that Nike was trying to find the absolute cheapest component they could. The upper fabric is nearly paper thin, the outsole is nearly as thin as the fabric, etc. These combine to make a product that has serious durability concerns while also being extremely uncomfortable.
This could be forgivable if this was the only way to get this style. The look of a Chuck is classic and sneakers are not just about the components that go into them. But that isn’t the case here. The Chuck 70 offers all of the style with better materials, better comfort, and since it will last so much longer, will cost less on a per-wear basis than the All Star.
Short of needing a pair you’ll wear once for a costume; I don’t see any reason to pick up the All Star over the Chuck 70 (or the Jack Purcell).
The Converse All Star is one of those classic sneakers that everyone needs to own at least once in their life. No matter if you’re trying to throw together a retro vibe, a punk rock vibe, or something else entirely, the Chuck Taylor will probably fit the look.
Unfortunately for the base model, the Chuck 70 (or the Jack Purcell) does all of it better. Seriously, if you’re on the fence, don’t be. The other options are better made, more comfortable, and ultimately will cost you less.
Buy an All Star. Just not this one.
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