Early 1900s Independent enough not to follow. Two years after its founding, a young Converse Rubber Company was not only doing business outside the stranglehold of the Rubber Trust—and selling directly to the retailer—it was also quickly diversifying its footwear offering to include an assortment of rubber boots, galoshes and replacement heels.
The first run of Converse Triple Tread galoshes came off factory lines in 1910. By 1915, Converse was producing over 30 styles of weatherized rubber footwear (on 19 different lasts) including boots, waders and galoshes. According to an early Converse catalog (circa 1915), these boots were “made for the man who wants the best that can be produced and is willing to pay the price.” And there must have been a lot of those men, because Converse nearly tripled its business between 1915 and 1917.
1920s & 1930s As the young company continued to define its identity both as a brand and in outdoor footwear, Converse was already focused on producing quality boots that were durable and comfortable. Among these were felt-bottomed fishing boots advertised for their “no stone bruising,” the Ruff Shod line which offered “more wear and more comfort,” and Caboose boots, the “toughest and easiest rubber ever made.”
In the early 1920s, the Big “C” Line was introduced as the outdoor equivalent to Converse’s athletic CX line. The Big “C” Line featured Rod & Reel waders, which led in product sales through the ’60s. Black Spade, part of Converse’s Pac line, also made its mark on Converse boots in the ’20s and went on to be widely adopted by the No-Bite boot line through the ’50s.
1940s With the onslaught of WWII, Converse turned its attention to supporting the war effort and began producing military goods including boots for pilots and Army servicemen, rubber protective suits and sneakers for Basic Training. The work not only helped save the company during a difficult period, it reinforced the morale of the organization by earning numerous wartime honors.
Following the war, Converse continued to support the troops by building custom footwear for returning U.S. soldiers who had suffered injury. And, when the rubber ration was lifted in 1946, Converse turned its attention back to producing waders—a whole lot of waders.
1950s Converse’s boots business held steady through the 1950s. There were hunting boots, work boots, boots for the more fashionably inclined, gaiters, galoshes–and, of course, waders. A notable new addition came in 1952, however, with the introduction of an Insulated Rod & Reel Sporting Boot that featured two layers of rubber and enabled outdoorsmen to continue their hunt year-round.
The No-Bite line was also introduced in the ’50s. Carrying the now-familiar Black Spade logo on its patented heel, the “exclusive, new-type sportsman’s [boot]” featured a patented “No-Bite” heel designed not to “ride, bite, chafe or blister.”
1960s A decade for outdoorsmen. Focusing on outdoor equipment, Converse started to market rain jackets and trousers, golf suits, yacht clothing, camouflage hunting gear, band parkas, air mattresses, flotes and rubber repair kits.
In addition to Rod & Reel and No-Bite lines’ continued success, the ’60s also brought about the creation of a Converse high altitude boot, designed in for Air Force pilots. Because of its insulating abilities, a similar boot continues to be worn by scientists conducting cold weather research in Alaska and Antarctica.
1970s The ’70s were known for its selection of fashion boots. There were the stylish, waterproof Bootinos with out-of-this-world names like Milky Way, Taurus and Sagitarius—followed by more academic takes including Stanford, Tulane and Babson. Stormgards made way with molded vinyl and “smart” textured leather that wouldn’t salt stain. And Verilites showed up in stretchy rubber with a gritty sole for extra traction, as did Storm Boots, Pac and Work boots.
2000s During this dynamic, brand building decade, a resilient Converse celebrated its 100th anniversary with the Century campaign, an open invitation for the next generation to join the ranks of creative individuals who took Converse along for the ride. And five years after that, in 2010, Converse designed the Outsider boot, a rough and rugged take on the iconic All Star sneaker.