Coolhunting Interview w/ Converse Creative Director Scott Patt
This interview with Scott Patt reminded me of the little known fact that Converse is owned by Nike. In it, Pratt states his job as CD entails “ensuring our product continues to represent the iconic and authentic nature of the brand.” Throughout its history, Chuck Taylor All-Stars have been embraced by greasers, punk rockers and other sub-cultures, which led to the shoe emerging as an “anti-establishment” symbol. Until recently, Chuck Taylors were the kicks people wore in protest of the mainstream and Nike’s use of sweatshop labor. Despite its iconic status, Converse experienced lagging sales during the late 90s and was purchased by Nike for $305 million in 2003.
In a very smart strategic move, Nike avoided “beaverizing”Converse and instead allowed the company to operate as a separate entity, but changed its marketing and sales approach. Much like other sneaker companies, Converse established customer loyalty by becoming part of culture. Through customization options, new colors and styles, Nike capitalized on Converse’s brand equity and introduced Chucks to new audiences without compromising its symbol as a form of expression.
Patt refers to Converse as an art brand and states, “…the All Star itself is the greatest mobile blank canvas ever created, next to the classic white t-shirt” (please read my Threadless piece). Even though Chucks have gone “mainstream” and are made by what many people view as an evil corporation, Converse is poised to maintain its fan-base, because its design and marketing teams seem genuinely in-tune with the company’s history and customers.