There was a time when I wore Chuck Taylors, and not only in classic black or white. I’m slightly mortified to confess I had a pair of orange lowtops while in my 30s. In college, I immortalized a pair of red hightops in a painting that riffed on Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe.
It was for a design class assignment that was supposed to demonstrate how warm colors come to the foreground and cool colors recede. I painted the main figures—the nude and the two guys in funny hats and frock coats—and added the red Chucky Ts to the young woman’s heap of clothing in the foreground. Instead of the background being that other woman searching for her contact lens, I put in some bluish mountains and a tyrannosaurus rex coming up over a ridge.
I guess a lot of kids draw their sneakers, but I was always proud of this bit of classwork. I gave the painting to my brother, and it hangs in his apartment to this day.
After college I discovered Jack Purcells. I didn’t completely abandon Chucks until many years later, but I favored Purcells for most occassions. They seemed sturdier, more grown-up, less punk but still plenty casual and fun. They were also not nearly as popular, a big fashion plus. When people mistook them for All Stars, I could enthusiastically enlighten them.
I currently have three decently worn pairs, one blue, one black, one white. Those were the colors you could get them in until, well I’m not sure when. I bought these on eBay when Converse was sold to Nike in 2003 and they stopped making them for a while, or so the rumor went, and I thought they might be my last pairs ever. Now, rather unfortunately, they are available in a wide array of hideous configurations.
Quick Jack Facts:
Jack Purcell was a Canadian badminton champion in the 1930s. B.F. Goodrich made the sneaker Jack designed until 1970 when Converse bought the rights. In America, badminton is pronounced bad mitten. Another reason to be proud to be born in the U.S.A.