I love Converse. Back in the 90s
I worked on the account and got to know a great deal about its
The company was founded in the early
years of the 20th century making winterised rubber shoes originally
and then athletic shoes. In 1921 the basketball player Chuck
Taylor joined the organisation to endorse and sell the
product. He literally lived out of his car touring the
country selling the Chuck Taylor All Star shoe.
The company has undergone much
evolution since then, and is now owned by Nike. Distribution
is great, teenagers are still wearing them, as are all cool
When I worked on the account they
employed a whole set of trend spotters led by the fabulous Jane
Rinzler Buckingham (still spotting trends at @Jane_Buckingham), and author of The Modern
Girls Guide to Sticky Situations (available here).
Of course as a fashion brand Converse
had to keep updating to stay relevant.
Apparently so too must funeral
The excellent book "Londoners" by Craig Taylor
contains an interview with John Harris, a funeral director in
Canning Town. Harris talks about how the family business has
evolved since his great-grandfather started it and how it's a
quantum leap from when he started personally in the business 37
years ago. They now cater for many different ethnic
communities and their individual religious customs. He has
evolved the business to be flexible for the Chinese, Filipino,
Ghanaian and Eastern European customers that come through his
doors. Pragmatically he says "We put a different god up on
the wall for whoever's coming".
From funerals to hi-tops you must
constantly change to stay the same.
As Steve Gladdis remarked to me the
other day - "Its Trigger's broom". Trigger from Only Fools
and Horses has had the same broom for 20 years. He's looked
after it. And although it has had 17 new heads and 14 new
handles it's the same authentic broom.
Plus ça change….
First published here on Sue Unerman's blog.