Converse (/ˈkɒnvərs/) is an American lifestyle brand that markets, distributes, and licenses footwear, apparel, and accessories. Founded in 1908 as the Converse Rubber Shoe Company, it has been acquired by several companies before becoming a subsidiary of Nike, Inc. in 2003.
Converse initially produced winterized rubber-soled shoes and boots. During World War II, it shifted manufacturing to make footwear for the military. Initially, it was one of the few producers of athletic shoes and dominated the U.S. market, but lost its position in the 1970s as competitors presented their styles.
Converse’s portfolio includes products under the Chuck Taylor All-Star, Cons, Jack Purcell, One Star, and Star Chevron trademarks. It frequently collaborates on special-edition product releases with other brands such as John Varvatos. As of 2019, Converse sold products through 109 company-owned retail stores in the United States and 63 stores in international markets. The growth of Converse as a casual fashion accessory contributed to $2.3 billion in revenue in 2022.
The Company’s marketing strategy is centered on the Converse All Star brand, which is positioned as the American performance brand with authentic sports heritage. The company believes that there are significant opportunities to build the brand, which commands high consumer awareness generated by reason of its 91-year history. The company’s consumer research has become an integral part of its product development, advertising campaigns and in-store point of purchase materials.
The origins of Converse Inc. date back to 1908, when Marquis M. Converse founded the Converse Rubber Company in Malden, Massachusetts with a capital investment of $250,000. Converse had gained extensive retail experience as a general manager of one of Boston’s largest department stores and at Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Co. He started his own firm after Beacon was absorbed by U.S. Rubber, and, within a year of its founding, the Converse Rubber Company had integrated 350 employees into a full-production team in a new plant. By 1910, the company had expanded its plant to produce 4,000 pairs of boots and rubbers daily.