Before there was Michael Jordan, there was Chuck Taylor. The Indiana basketball star was the first to get his name on a pair of signature sneakers when Converse’s “Chuck Taylor” All Stars rolled out in 1917. A lot of things have changed since, but the basic construction of the Chuck Taylor isn’t one of them. Until now.
The sneakers—which have served as the preferred footwear for celebrities ranging from Wilt Chamberlain to Kurt Cobain—are officially getting a 21st-century update. The Chuck Taylor All Star II, unveiled at launch event in Boston, looks mostly the same as its forebear, but the interior now incorporates a sock liner made of Nike Lunarlon, a soft, bouncy, lightweight foam. (Nike has owned Converse since 2003.)
This marks the first major redesign of Chuck Taylor in its 98-year existence—and it means that your Chucks will feel completely different, and far more comfortable, than the ones you and your grandparents knew.
Nike designed Lunarlon to withstand repeat impact on the sole, the kind experienced by marathoners and basketball players who run or jump continuously for long periods. It provides cushioning and arch support, and it worked so well that Nike now uses the material in a wide range of footwear.
The Chuck Taylor also is getting a foam-padded collar and tongue, and a perforated microsuede liner meant to make the sneaker more breathable during long periods of wear. (Breathability refers to a fabric’s ability to allow moisture—in this case, sweat—to escape, not whether it lets air through.)
It’s a long overdue update to the Chuck Taylor, which has historically been little more than a simple upper—usually canvas—stitched to a basic rubber sole. While Chucks have become a widely loved classic, they’ve mostly missed out on a century’s worth of advances in sneaker technology.
Other updates seen on the Chuck Taylor All Star II are mostly superficial, such as monochrome matte eyelets, better canvas, and an embroidered “All Star” patch.
The sneakers will be available later this month, at a price that’s gotten a bit of an update as well. They’ll be $70 for the low-tops and $75 for the hi-tops.