How did the Converse All Star become so iconic?

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • We investigate the history behind one of the world's most popular trainers.

    Words by Henrik Lischke

    Most of us probably have a pair or two of Converse trainers in our closet (we certainly know Michelle Obama does), and it’s the ultimate go-to when we’re not sure what to wear. Add a Breton top and a pair of jeans and you’ve got the ultimate off-duty look.

    But the Allstar has a lot more to it than most of us know.

    A brief Converse timeline

    The legendary kicks were intended to cater for basketball players’ comfort, while sinking jump shots on the court in the 1920s. With the rising stardom of the all-American sport, the All Star was basking in glory.

    Emerging athletic giants such as Nike in the 1960s forced the brand to broaden its horizon away from the sports industry. In a stroke of luck, the shoe had already trickled down into the punk-rock movement and had become a symbol of the  youth rebellion, worn by musicians as iconic as the shoe itself (see Kurt Cobain!).

    Converse shoes in TV and films

    As popular as they were on stage, Converse trainers also started making regular appearances in Hollywood, appearing on screen time and time, in classics such as Grease, Back To The Future, Stand by Me, Rocky, The Breakfast Club, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Pulp Fiction and Stranger Things to name just a few.



    Converse, the celebrities’ favourite shoe

    And as the simple yet versatile sneaker became a movie star, celebrities couldn’t keep their hands off them.

    Even the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker or Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen sometimes put their Manolos aside to slip into the non-heel equivalent: the Chuck – low top or high top, black or white (you can never go wrong with either of those).

    Strutting down the sidewalks of the Big Apple, the comfortable shoe doesn’t take away any of the style icons’ cool, more so it adds some extra effortless chic. And if they’re good enough for them, they’re good enough for us, right?

    sjp converse


    How to style Converse trainers

    After years of evolving into the legendary shoe it is today, we couldn’t imagine our wardrobes without it, it’s so stylish and versatile. Whether we’re beelining for a particular style or hoping we’ll find something amongst the Black Friday trainer deals, we’ve always got our eye out for a staple pair of Chucks.

    If you’re going for the French girl look like fashion blogger Camille Charrière or muse Caroline de Maigret, pair your slightly worn-off sneaker with some boyfriend jeans, a Breton striped shirt and you’re ready to go.

    Or opt for a more spiced up version of the sneaker by brands such as Comme des Garcons or J.W. Anderson, who both have given the timeless classic a modern twist.

    Other style influencers, such as German Veronika Heilbrunner stay true the brand’s punk history. Breaking the rules of style, Heilbrunner takes her love for the iconic footgear to higher spheres by sporting the sneaker with evening dresses and Chanel tweed suits. A look to try only with a crisp new pair, in order to avoid looking all too casual.

    And as for the rebel in all of us, perhaps our every so often worn-out companion might be the perfect understated shoe to be a bit more daring. True to the motto ‘be loud and be proud’, let your inner punk-rock-self shimmer through.

    Reading now

    Popular fashion stories