For a simple canvas shoe, the Chuck Taylor All Star is a huge piece of American iconography. First produced in 1917, the shoes took salesman Chuck Taylor's name in 1923. The humble Chucks were born as a basketball sneaker and were a favorite of NBA legend "Dr. J" Julius Erving, but had a personality far beyond what straight-laced jock society could handle. As soon as Joey Ramone started wearing them to shows in the late '70s, they broke out of the gym and popped up at punk shows, vert ramps, streetlamp freestyle battles and Seattle coffee shops. Chuck Taylors weren't all-American because they were emblazoned with flags or worn by only fine, establishment-friendly Americans, but because they were accessible to all Americans. But "Kurt Cobain wore them" wasn't quite the marketing draw Converse honchos imagined. In 2003, Converse sold out to Nike ( NKE) for a cool $305 million. Nike moved production of Chucks and other Converse sneakers to Asia shortly thereafter. -- Written by Jason Notte in Boston. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.
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