The 1920s to 1970s, Converse was King in the basketball sneaker world. Many don’t know that before Nikes and Jordans, all of the NBA’s best basketball players were rocking Converse. Yes, the flimsy iconic shoe we all probably owned once in our lives. Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Julius Erving, and most other NBA players back in the day wore Converse Basketball Shoes.
Converse dominated in every sport in the early 90’s. Converse even became the official shoe for the Olympics from 1936 to 1968. It was clear that Converse was America’s favorite athletic shoe; however, just like many other successful companies, Converse failed to compete with new innovative companies. Imagine Converse as the Nokia of the Basketball World; while Nokia struggled to innovate, another technology company, Apple Inc., made a more innovative and attractive product and thus quickly gained most of the market share for mobile phones. While Nike and Adidas started implementing leather-uppers and sturdier rubber outsoles with better grip and support, Converse quickly became an afterthought.
Converse later filed for bankruptcy and struggled with lots of debt, and in 2003, Nike acquired Converse for $305 million. The Converse, specifically the Chuck Taylor, continues to be iconic in the fashion space but has failed again and again to gain back its dominance in the Basketball World.
Basketball Shoe Marketing has been closely associated with the players who wear the sneakers on and off the court. Jordan iconically wore his signature shoe and because of his fantastic play on the basketball court, Jordans will forever be the most coveted basketball shoe. Other players like Kobe Bryant and Lebron James have famously worn their own signature shoe with many other basketball players representing their respective shoe brands, predominantly Nike and Adidas.
Converse after the 1970’s had no sponsored athletes, but in 2018, Converse signed Kelly Oubre Jr., an NBA player known for his fashion off the court. This was a huge step for Converse for its reintroduction into the world of basketball. Kelly Oubre Jr. is a rising star and can prove to be very crucial in Converse’s marketing plans. Additionally, not even a month ago, Converse signed Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a rising star playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who is also known for his off-the-court fashion. It seems like Converse is targeting a specific type of player and it will be exciting to see what the future holds for the former champion of Basketball Sneakers.