Rubber soul.

    When you consider all the technologically tricked-out sneakers on the market, or the hordes of collectors questing for the next must-have pair, it's pretty imressive that Converse's signature shoe, the Chuck Taylor All Star, has remained virtually unchanged- and a best seller at that-since it debuted in 1917. But if the company knows not to mess with a good thing, that doesn't mean it's content just standing still. Converse kicks off its hundreadth year in business with more variations on the classic Chucks, like woodsy black-and-white checks and dreamy hand-drawn florals. The Converse by Jhon Varvatos line, in its fifth season, builds on the footwear's rep for effortless cool with linen short shorts and sweet macramé tops. And the latest collaboration, the Converse One Star collection for Target, stays true to the brand's sporty -chic (and budget-friendly) roots with nautical pullovers and starburst board shorts-plus, of course, riffs in the iconic kicks.
    While Converse may be poised to enter fashion's major leagues, it got its first shot at success on the basketball court. Afeter semipro hoopster Chuck Taylor suggested a few tweaks to the footwear company's marquee All Star sneakers in 1921, Converse rechristened the style in his honor and the athlete shoendorsement was born. In the 1980s, as basketball sneakers got increasingly high-tech and pumped-up, the floppy canvas high-top suddenly found itself on the sidelines, only to be championed by a new group of unlikely fans.
    With their "anti-fashion" stance, Chuck Taylors were adopted everywhere from the punk-rock stage to the skateboarding park. Thanks to the timelessly rebelious style of some of its most famous wearers-James Dean, Blondie, and Kurt Cobain, to name a few-the sneaker remained a badge of countercultural cool. Big shoes to fill, sure, but that hasn't stopped boundary -pushers like the Stokes and Avril Lavigne from following in their idols' tracks. And Converse's growing array of offerings ensures there's no shortage of ways to make your
    own footprint.
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