Mark of the Week—Can You Identify It?

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One of the most easily recognized shoe brands around —specifically their Chuck Taylor models. (Hint: if the star patch isn’t located on the inner ankle, it’s not the real deal.)

This week’s mark might be kicked off by your door, sitting on your shoe rack, or even encasing your feet as you read this: the ubiquitous all-American Converse.

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A pair of plain black Chucks is affordable and still one of the most stylish casual accessories you can be seen in.

Converse was founded in 1908 and in 2003 became a subsidiary of Nike. The company makes many different shoes but is famous for its various iterations of Chuck Taylor All-Stars (colloquially known as “Chucks” and named after semi-pro basketball player Chuck Taylor, who came to work for the company). The All-Stars were first introduced in the early 1920s after their previous model, the “Non-Skid,” got retooled for comfort. At that point, the shoe’s “C” logo was upgraded to a star, with Taylor’s signature added in the 1930s. The patch was, and is still, located on the inside of the ankle instead of the outside—“converse” of where you’d expect it (fakes and spoofs often place the patch on the outside, a dead giveaway).

Converse has evolved with demand and the times to offer other lines, like its Pro Leather model, the Weapon, the BB Evo, and many others (look for handautographed pairs!), but its most iconic offerings are still Chuck Taylors.

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The form of plain Chucks lends itself as a blank canvas for all sorts of designs. True to its origin as a basketball shoe, some models are available sporting team names.

Chucks occupy a unique place in fashion; like their spiritual siblings Keds, they radiate all-American wholesomeness. And like their Doc Martens cousins across the pond, they have that distinct no-frills, working-class aura. But unlike the former, they’re more visibly a part of the popular imagination, and unlike the latter, they lack that edge of potential menace.

They do, however, lend themselves endlessly to style and theme alterations, from low to extra-high, WWII army vintage to 1950s football to basketball teams to comic book characters to bands to haute couture collaborations, the brand has survived not by hustling–—but by being so cool that everyone wants a pair.

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Never one to miss a trend, Converse also at various times has produced superhero-themed shoes, like these Batman sneakers.

Shannon Watkins is a journalist and writer from Virginia who enjoys baking cookies, reading, watching TV shows and movies, and shameless loafing about.

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