The origin of Converse shoes dates back to 1908 when Marquis M. Converse established the Converse Rubber Company in Malden, Massachusetts. The small company began producing shoes in 1909. In the last ninety years, the company has grown to become the largest U.S. manufacturer of footwear.
Converse made its mark on the footwear industry when it introduced the canvas All Star® basketball shoe in 1917. Through the endorsement of Basketball Hall of Famer Charles "Chuck" H. Taylor, the shoe captured a majority of the basketball shoe market. As the first athletic shoe endorser, Taylor became a salesperson for the company in 1921. He traveled the country promoting the shoes and conducting basketball clinics for coaches. His signature was added to the ankle patch of the shoe in 1923, and the shoe style became known as the Chuck Taylor® All Star®.
As one of the most popular shoes of all time, over 550 million pairs of the Chuck Taylor® All Star® have been sold. Until the 1970s, when leather supplanted canvas on the basketball court, the shoe retained between 70 and 80 percent of the basketball shoe market. The Chuck Taylor® All Star® continued to be popular as a fashion shoe, and it continues to attract devotees eighty years after its introduction. During the 1970s, Converse developed new, high-performance leather shoes and acquired new endorsers. Following in the tradition of Chuck Taylor, NBA basketball players Larry
Bird, Julius "Dr. J" Erving, and Dennis Rodman have endorsed Converse basketball shoes.
The company has experienced numerous ownership changes since Converse sold it to the Stone family in 1933. Converse became a public company traded on NASDAQ in 1983, and 1994 marked the first year that the company's stock was traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the trading symbol CVE. In 1999 Apollo Investment Fund owned 65 percent of the company.
As Converse grew, it acquired other companies including Tyer Rubber company in 1961 and the Hodgman brand of sporting goods in 1964. Its most notable acquisition was the footwear division of B.F. Goodrich Company in 1972. With the Goodrich purchase, Converse acquired the Jack Purcell® sneaker, a leading tennis shoe since its introduction in 1935. Characterized by simple lines and a blue toe, this shoe was named after the famous badminton player of the 1920s and 1930s who helped design it.
In the 1990s, the company marketed products in more than ninety countries. Its current basketball shoes feature the REACT™ shock absorber. It also markets cross-training, children's, and leisure shoes. In addition, it licenses sports apparel and operates approximately thirty retail stores. Website: http://www.converse.com
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