What is it about Converse shoes everyone always has to fetishize? America is asking itself on the hundredth anniversary of the company, which is not actually a company but a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nike Inc., not that you care, because you understand; these things happen. As Hank Stuever says: "It is not an angry shoe. It was never that kind of rebellion. It's the shoe of slacker ambivalence, indecision." It is a matter of public record; sometime in the nineties the nation's footwear industry relocated itself in southern China and Jakarta, and around that time I happened to be a kid in southern China; it was hard — shit, maybe even wrong — to begrudge the undernourished Chinese those smelly jobs making the shoes all the cool kids wore; and even in the teensy expatriate youth community of Guangzhou circa 1991 there were cool kids, whose parents worked for Nike and outfitted them with all manner of different colored Jordans and Huaraches and even — my parents found this to be the most unnecessary phenomenon — Aqua Sox.
Whose rooms were bedecked in Bo Jackson and Andre Agassi posters, posters that sated a little satisfied void of American pop culture during some three years of my life. Shall I continue? This is getting indulgent, even for me, which I guess explains my reluctance to discuss Chuck Taylors, a three-year-old pair of which I happened to be wearing a minute ago before I realized I was wearing shoes while blogging.
And that I would be more comfortable without them on. This thought does not occur to me nearly enough; the night before last I passed out still wearing them. Not that they are particularly comfortable. They are just not uncomfortable. It's funny to think my Chucks are three years old, because they still seem relatively new. As Chucks go, you understand. The "All Star" seal hasn't so much as begun to fade. I accept mediocrity in my Chucks as I accept it in myself and in this blog post, which almost failed to point out the serendipitous fact that Converse is now an advertiser on this blog, which might not exist had companies like Converse yielded to market forces and shuttered their factories so as to save more cash for marketing. Thank you, Nike! You acquired a decent little product here. Would I rather be working in one of your factories? No I would not.
I came to be a Chuck Taylor person through the gateway of Kurt Cobain and one-stars and "angst," and at some point it of course occurred to me that commodified angst is still a commodity, and that Chuck Taylors would be offering some migrant girl in Shenzhen a job soon enough, this time making shoes for Shanghai hipsters, imitating to the Hong Kong hipsters imitating the Japanese hipsters paying homage to the Ramones...that we are social creatures, driven to imitate and impress one another, to broadcast our psychographics tacitly through our choice in footwear.
And yes, all that happened, very very quickly, and in the meantime I wore Chuck Taylors, which wore out very very slowly. You might say it all happened in the lifetime of three and a half pairs of Chucks, and you might call that "discusting" but any southern Chinese factory worker could tell you that was all anyone really needed.
From Hoops To Hipsters [Wash Post]
A Tribute To Converse Chuck Taylors [Angelfire]
Chicks In Chucks [Chucks Connection]
Nike To Buy Converse For About $305 Million [WSJ]
Converse Files Chapter 11; Will Move Manufacturing To Asia [NYT]