Stefan Van Dorn

The Success of Converse – Part 4

Each one of these artists takes the already successful converse and adds their own signatures and artistic decisions to the shoe. This branches the Converse into many different directions of appeal, each with its own, new, spokesperson for the brand, furthering the span of their success to even more fans across the world. Nikes’ decision to collaborate with other designers was one of the best things that have happened to Converse allowing for all new colors, shapes, and functions to be reinterpreted and replaced with the different designers. 

One shoe that has not seen such success as the Converse is the Kobe 2. When compared to the research of what Converse did to reach such success, there are a number of clear strategies that lacked in the development of the shoe. It is easy to pick at any design we do not like thinking, “how could this even become a success?” But to someone, the design was really loved thought to be successful. So where is the difference when compared to the Converse? The shape resembles close to a rectangle but smoothed over on the top edges ever so slightly. It was designed as a basketball shoe but appears very clunky and not efficient in terms of athleticism in any way. The shoe has a large amount of cushioning to it, so much so in fact that it begins to resemble a warm slipper. Simply to look at the shoe it would seem that you could tell it would not be ideal for its function of an on the court shoe (Woolf).

The color is a graphite silver, all around with subtle black accents along the sole. Simply to look at the shoe it would seem that you could tell it would not be ideal for its function of an on the court shoe (Woolf). 

 It is said that even Kobe himself hated the design of the shoe, going on to say they were “ugly and horrible” (Woolf) which later “caused him to switch back to the slightly better Kobe One during the NBA Finals that year” (Woolf). If the creators didn’t listen to Kobe it can be sure they were not listening to other potential customers of the shoe. Kobe and any face of a product seem to be a large part of the success. Like Chuck Taylor, the person advocating the product needs to be supportive of it themselves before it can ever be a hit in the public eyes.

The clunky shape, not following function, minimal color choices, and the fact that Adidas didn’t listen to its customers, let alone Kobe himself, could have been to blame for the demise of the shoe. This is just one example of many designs that could have had a much different outcome if even just some of those principals were followed. 

To conclude, Chuck Taylor’s Converse has been around for close to a century now. Their impact on the early years of basketball was great and they have since left a worldly impact on fashion that lives on to this day. Any designer would love to have their product reach such success and love by the people, as the Converse have. With the information gathered here, there is a foundation for determining what made the Converse design succeed therefore hinting at what good design could entail. First, the importance of the shape of design was discussed, describing how its shape must correlate with its function. When the company later made a low top shoe, it expanded their reach beyond just sports and was the start of the casual Converse. Next, the colors and how there is a biological aspect to a person’s likes or dislikes when it comes to a designs’ colors. The colors that Converse came out with throughout the years decided the direction in which the brand would take. When chuck Taylor added the new colors of white, with blue and red accents, the U.S fell in love with the shoe. It became somewhat a symbol of patriotism for its time in 1936 in the rising tensions of what would become WWII. Lastly, the importance of customer involvement in the design, it is crucial that a company receives feedback from other sources than their own design teams and employees. Chuck Taylor was reported to have involved the customers greatly. He was always advocating for the shoes, from the court all the way to the US military. Nike has taken the shoe and produced a large number of collaborations with it which has only broadened its reach to the customer’s wants and needs. 

There are many aspects of a successful design, some of which may never be fully understood. Design is an art that is perceived under the complexities of the human brain. Researching other’s successes and using them to the benefit of your own, following the form best suited for a function, using colors that have meaning, receiving vital feedback from others, and making a product loved by the creators seem to be a few ways of creating a successful design. 

Here are my sources, I hope you enjoyed some history about the iconic Converse shoes!

Chon, Harah, and Joselyn Sim. “From Design Thinking to Design Knowing: An Educational Perspective.” Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, vol. 18, no. 2, Oct. 2019, pp. 187–200. EBSCOhost,doi:10.1386/adch_00006_1.

Devin, Lee, and Austin, Robert D. The Soul of Design Harnessing the Power of Plot to Create     Extraordinary Products. Stanford, California: Stanford Business, 2012, pp. 81-86.

Foreman, Katya. “Converse shoes: In the all star.” BBC, 21 Oct. 2014,

Norman, Donald. Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things, Basic Books, 2007.ProQuest Ebook Central,

Power, Dave. “Product Development Should Focus on Customer Needs: Harvard Professional Development: Harvard DCE.” Harvard Professional Development, 19 Oct. 2016,

“Product Design.” Encyclopedia of Management, 8th ed., vol. 2, Gale, 2019, pp. 892-896. Gale Ebooks, Accessed 9 Oct. 2019.

Shazzani, Amirul. “Converse Chuck Taylor Collabs: A Look At 10 Of The Finest Releases.” Straatosphere, 18 Jan. 2019,

The History of the Converse All Star “Chuck Taylor” Basketball Shoe.

Tkacik, Maureen, “Nike to Buy Converse For About $305 Million.” The Wall Street Journal, 9 July 2003,

Woolf, Jack. “Never Forget the Ugliest Sneakers Kobe Bryant Ever Wore.” GQ, 13 Apr. 2016,

Wuyt, Ann. “World’s Oldest Leather Shoe Discovered in Armenia.” Independent, 11 June 2010,

Yang, Yan-pu, and Xing Tian. “Combining Users’ Cognition Noise with Interactive Genetic Algorithms and Trapezoidal Fuzzy Numbers for Product Color Design.” Computational Intelligence & Neuroscience, Aug. 2019, pp. 1–11. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1155/2019/1019749.

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