The Converse Chuck Taylor: Iconic. Versatile. Essential. Also: terrible. Just an awful, uncomfortable arts-and-crafts project gone wrong. This is why it still sells for $40 new. This is why it comes in every color visible to the human eye. This is why it has hardly changed for a century. Where to begin? The 1-ply canvas tongue? The medieval heel seam that leaves behind blisters big enough to have their own heartbeat? Or the one-shape-fits-none flat sole that makes standing during a rock show feel equal to 30 years of working in a cannery? If you're going for a run, you're better off wearing chalk erasers tied on with butcher's twine.
The look, though: classic. We'll go on buying them, trying to covertly mix and match different sizes for each foot in the store, because it's the Marilyn Monroe of sneakers — uniquely flawed, but undeniable. The essence of sneakerdom drawn from a bygone era. It looks good enough in almost every setting, from weekend brunch to dialing down a dress shirt, that we excuse nearly all of it. Which brings us to the Chuck II, the same minimalist look as the street classic, but with a level of comfort and design that finally catches up to its modern offspring.
The goal, says Damion Silver, the brand's global design director, was to build "a shoe you can live in all day, while maintaining the original's integrity."
The Chuck II is arguably a brand new sneaker, lined with microsuede that breathes, a Lunarlon foam bed that swaddles the foot, light premium canvas that lasts, and everything else we want from the Nike Freerun — but changes nothing about the All-Star silhouette we love. The New York Times argued that changing the iconic shoe was "a dangerous move," but so is walking farther than the corner store in the original. If you want to suffer for style, the primordial Chucks will still be everywhere for the cost of a tank of gas. But Ford had to phase out the Model T sometime, and Converse is doing the same with its quintessential style. This is the future. Bring on the Chuck II. [Starting at $70; converse.com]