After 98 years without a change, Converse's classic Chuck Taylor has a new look.
The new Chuck Taylor All Star II, which debuts Tuesday in both hi-top and low-top form, bears all the hallmarks of the original: It's still mostly rubber and canvas, with the iconic All-Star rubber imprint at the base of the heel and the starred patch on the inside of the shoe. And in a nod to its heritage—it has, um, big shoes to fill—the Chuck II is only out in four colorways: black, red, blue, and optic white.
So yeah, it looks a lot like the first one.
But the biggest improvements are made to be felt, not seen. The new Chuck II packs a cushy Nike Lunarlon sock liner, which is thicker and softer than the unforgiving rubber from the previous models. (Nike owns Converse, by the way, so it's no surprise the Chuck II is chock-full of Swoosh tech.) The new model also has a padded, non-slip tongue, and what Converse calls a "micro-suede lining," which is basically a sewn-in padding that adds some more insulation and comfort around the ankles.
Oh, and about that Lunarlon liner: We suspect it'll be a mixed blessing for people who wear Chucks as functional athletic shoes. For guys who pound the pavement—like tennis players or hoopsters—the extra padding is a much-needed cushion against fast cuts and athletic jumps. But the Lunarlon might get a different reaction from weightlifters, many of whom cherish the solid rubber insoles of the original Chucks as sturdy platforms for big lifts.
“We listened and took it to heart that people love their Chucks and want sneakers that are built to enable them to do more," said Richard Copcutt, the vice president and general manager of Converse All Star, in a release. "The Chuck II is the full expression of this consumer obsession, staying true to the DNA of the original."
List price: $70 for the "oxfords," $75 for the high-tops.
There are a few cosmetic changes, of course. The familiar rubber sole still has the same basic patterning, but it's solid white—no colored line detailing. The All-Star insignia, previously a rubberized icon with blue and red lettering, has been replaced by a sewn-on patch with only blue text. The shiny metal eyelets, typically silver in the original Chucks, now match the color of the (seemingly thicker) canvas in a matte finish.
And in the lone nod to Converse's new All-Star, there's a little patch on the inside of the tongue. Its only text: "Chuck Taylor II."
Here's to another 98 (slightly more cushioned and padded) years, Mr. Taylor.