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When America entered World War II in 1941, Converse shifted production to manufacturing footwear, apparel, boots, parkas, rubber protective suits, and ponchos for pilots and troops. In addition to production, Converse company designed the A6 Flying Boot worn by the U.S. Army Air Corps, sponsored scrap rubber drives, the War Savings Bond Tour, Red Cross blood drives, and supported servicemen with their newsletter Converse-ations.
Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia warriors set the record for most points scored by one player in a single NBA game. The record of 100 points, established in Chucks, has never been brokenConverse remained wildly popular during the 70's and 80's as they continued to be a symbol of counter-culture. This tradition of rebellion started with greasers and the rebel without a cause. White t-shirt, jeans, leather jacket, and sneakers were the traditional uniform of the youth rebellion. The tradition continued in the 60's with hippies and their often colorful and mismatched Converse, in the 70's with punk rock culture and the Ramones, in the 80's with kids everywhere.
Musicians like Green Day and Pearl Jam donned Chucks as well as a huge number of other musicians, actors, and celebrities. Even with their mass popularity, Converse company was on the decline by the late 80's and into the 90's. The era of the 80's saw a rise in fancy air soles, gels, pumps and other high technology for sneakers. Converse, in a moment of foresight, invests in the industry's first biomechanics research lab.
The company soon introduced several performance technologies to compete with the surge of new competitors in the athletic shoe arena, but found that in spite of their long history of tradition and performance, they couldn't compete. Here is brief overview of Converse during the 1980's and early 90's:Converse introduced the state-of-the-art REACT custom-fit technology, increasing basketball shoe cushioning, stability, and support. Converse and the demand for its rubber-toed shoes began to decline in the 70's and continued to decline through the next 20 years through a combination of poor business decisions, lack of money to compete in technology and marketing, and simple bad luck. Despite its investment in the biomechanics lab, Converse simply could not keep up with the technologies released by their younger competitors and soon Converse was dropped as the official shoe of the NBA.
A disastrous acquisition of apparel maker ApexOne in 1995 left the company drowning in debt. Nike signed Michael Jordan whose personality, playing ability, and overall good image brought Nike fame and success. Converse signed Latrell Sprewell who was later dropped after he tried to choke his coach. Sales declined and the company was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2001. The company closed its last U.S. factory and moved manufacturing to Asia when the company changed hands, and in July 2003, Converse accepted an offer from Nike to buy out the company for $305 million. Nike's acquisition of this American institution raced many questions and much controversy with fans of the classic Converse Chuck Taylors.
To date, Converse remains a Swoosh-free zone and many old styles have been re-released, but for some people the appeal of Chucks has faded since sportswear giant Nike came into the picture. Converse is an American legend.