I got my first pair of Chuck Taylors in 1985.
At the time they were just coming back into style, and if I didn’t walk in on the first day of school with a sweet new pair of high-tops, well, I’d be destined to be an outcast for the rest of the school year.
My mom probably paid nearly 40 dollars for those in preparation for my big day entering the 4th grade.
I remember thinking I was *so* cool because mine were yellow. A rare colour at the time — those aqua blue ones were the “hot” color back then.
They were also the first pair of canvas shoes I’d ever worn, having followed a long line of leather Nike, Reebok, Pony, Puma, and Kangaroos. Remember Roos? (Seriously, you can never have enough zippered pockets on your shoes.)
But you know what? The All-Stars held up better than any of those leather shoes. I wore those yellow hi-tops right up until 5th grade, when I replaced them with a pair of off-white ones.
Anyway, they quickly fell out of style, as they generally do every 10 years or so, and their prices plummeted. I kept on wearing them and as the years went by, I generally opted for the low-top (or “oxford”) instead of the high top.
In high school, I worked in the shoe department of a clothing store. At the time, the low-top version of the Chuck Taylor was $14.99/pair. Needless to say, I had nearly every colour our store offered.
I even started wearing mismatched colours. Kinda stupid in hindsight, but I was always careful to rotate them evenly just in case, say, I ever wanted to wear two purple ones. They’d both look equally beaten up.
By the time I was in university the price on low-tops had jumped to $24.99. Still very reasonable considering I could get a good solid year out of one pair. At the time I also dabbled a bit with other brands, usually canvas versions of Vans. They just weren’t the same and I always found myself going back to Converse.
After 20 years, it’s not just a shoe, it’s a life style. (Okay, that was over the top.)
Lately though, Chuck Taylors have come back in style.
While that’s good for me — I look mildly trendy again for the first time in over 20 years — it’s really bad for my wallet. Chucks aren’t $14.99/pair anymore. Even $24.99 would be a bargain.
Nope, they top out at over $40 nearly everywhere.
That’s too much for a flap of rubber, some canvas, and a few grommets. Too much for me anyway.
I’ve been on the cheap when it comes to shoes for decades now. So now what?
Enter the knock-off…
Both Walmart and Target carry a low top version of the All-Star. Unfortunately their colour selection is seriously lacking, but the black low top is a classic and with a price tag of $12.99, well, it’s a done deal for me.
I’ve been rotating two pairs of black knock-offs for the past two years. The Target version is identical to the real thing, right down to the brown sole. The Walmart version is a tiny bit different, but unless you’re looking at the bottom, you really can’t tell. They wear just like the latest overpriced Converse.
(Converse used to last longer before Nike took over and changed the “formula” for this classic shoe.)
I’ll go out on a limb and say that the Target knock-offs are manufactured under the same roof as the real thing. They’re that similar, right down to the laces. My new casual everyday shoe of choice.
So, with that, and all the years of savings, I think I’m due for an overpriced pair of sneakers to conquer my most recent goal.
Here’s to hoping I keep it under $100!