Converse All Star, $45
The cost of a pair of All Stars in 1957.
A century ago, the Converse Rubber Company of Massachusetts created an athletic shoe with a canvas upper, a thick rubber sole, simple laces and a rubber toe cap. It was dubbed the All Star and nearly 800 million pairs later, this piece of American iconography is still one of the most popular shoes on the market.
But the shoe wasn't an instant success. Sales were slow at first. That is, until Converse signed on Charles "Chuck" Taylor to what could be described as the first shoe endorsement deal. Taylor, a former basketball star who played for such teams as the Original Celtics and the Akron Firestones, was recruited to represent and sell the new shoe, travel the country and evangelize the game of basketball.
Taylor suggested some design modifications, which were implemented in the early 1920s. Sales took off and Converse rewarded their new star by adding Taylor's signature to the shoe's trademark star patch. The overall design has remained virtually unchanged since those early days.
"Chucks," as they came to be known, eventually aged off the basketball court, but not out of the American consciousness. By World War II, they were standard issue for soldiers (still defined in the military supply system, National Stock Number 8430-00-257-3759). And they soon became the shoe of choice for every generation—from the California surfers of the 1960s to the punks and grunge bands of the '80s and '90s to the throwback preps of today.
$16, at Amazon
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