Converse Chuck Taylor
As promised, I decided to swap my biker boots for Converse to go to a gig, which is appropriate for spring I think. The test conditions were quite mild as I saw Emmy the Great, whose indie-folky music induced gentle swaying at most. Moshing was never going to happen.
It did involve a lot of standing though, and I was also really tired after overdoing a trip to the pub night before — so much so that my friend said it looked “like I was having trouble supporting my own body weight”, so the sheer exertion of just being awake was probably a good test in itself. The floor was also flat (unlike last time, when I decided sloped floors meant I could get away with less-supportive shoes).
The gig was really nice, I don’t love all her music, but she played the songs I do really like, including my favourite, Swimming Pool; I think it’s beautiful, and the distinctive soaring backing vocals from Wild Beasts bassist Tom Fleming really make it. Tom did the backing vocals at the gig too, which I wasn’t expecting, so I had a really great night!
Anyway, onto the Converse! I love Converse, specifically the Chuck Taylor All Star. They are so iconic, genderless, ageless, they look good new, they look good battered; they have always just been a part of my entire existence. I think I only realised how much of a soft spot I have for them when I randomly stumbled on this unlabelled animated gif from a music video on the internet, and knew exactly whose feet they were and what the song was (yes, I realise this makes me a bit of a loser… but a loser in the name of hi-tops, for which I am proud).
I’ve also had a bit of an issue with the Converse hi-tops since developing my arthritis, and that has mainly been that the soles are too flat and uncushioned, and the hi-top makes my ankle restricted, meaning it’s hard to walk in them (they are also too narrow for a brace). So, despite the fact I loved them, I had to give up on the hi-tops. That was sad, but the low-tops were manageable, if not the most comfortable, and I have a couple of pairs.
However, Converse recently brought out the Chuck Taylor II. The outer design has been tweaked a little bit but, like most things in life, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Nike has owned Converse since 2003, and the insole has been updated with Nike technology, making the shoe much more bouncy and comfortable. So, of course, I REALLY wanted a pair: the originals are still available for the purists, but here were hi-tops for feet like mine that needed an extra bit of love. After deliberating for a long time I opted for these marble-coloured ones as I already had ‘classic’ pairs of low tops in black and white.
They are SO much more comfortable than the originals, really bouncy, and I think they would have been better at a gig with more dancing and bouncing. However, they didn’t do a lot to prevent my overpronation as there is little shape to the foot bed; it is still very flat inside, and I did feel my ankle was having to work hard to remain in the ‘correct’ position, which was difficult standing for such a long time. Also, the height of the shoes also meant that there is restriction around the ankle joint (I know they are called hi-tops, but other brands of hi-top shoes don’t come up so high).
I don’t feel like the Converse were a terrible choice, I do wear them out and about, and I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t feel OK in them, and I will probably wear them to gigs to which I know I am going to be moving about a lot more, but I think, if you like hi-tops, there are brands that do ankle support much better, and I’ll talk about those soon. The main thing that you have to ask yourself is whether you can sacrifice your comfort for the way something looks, and these are so special that I think it’s a price I am willing to pay, just maybe not at a folk gig.
If you are tempted to try the updated Chuck Taylor II, I would recommend the low-tops as I find them to be more comfortable. If I were to go out and buy a new pair tomorrow, it would be this neon yellow pair! Could you imagine wearing these in summer?