Monday, January 12, 2009

╠ Good Product or Everlasting Fad? ╣

Growing up I never had much expendable money so I didn't have much exposure to brands. Although despite this as soon as I got control of my own money I knew my first purchase of above base line clothes should be on a Converse pair of shoes. Although the funny thing is that I didn't know that the ever so common white toed shoes were converse. I simply wanted converse because I liked the shoes they had with the star on the side in the good old days.

I did think those white toed ones were cool but for some reason I felt brand loyalty for Converse despite being new to the whole you can imagine my surprise when the connection was made. After a while of having said fancy shoes I realized they were really popular...perhaps too popular and being someone who doesn't like to conform too much I decided not to replace them when my first pair didn't last...which may have been because they were from ebay :P

However I've realized recently that while I personally didn't want to be seen as conforming, I personally didn't see others as doing that. In fact on average if someone was wearing cons in the insta judgement that people seem to automatically do about each other I would usually think more of them than most others. In fact the only way to really beat it was to have a sort of video game referencing shirt or something else equally as obscure making them a standout of the effort to pleasing scale.

The strange thing is there's nothing else really like me for this. I mean there are things out there such as oakley sunglasses but when it comes to things like that they're usually dominated by a particular demographic, such as jocks, which can make other demographics think less of them. Cons however seem to either be universal or simply part of large demogrpahics of people I don't hate therefore not devaluing them in my mind.

Now the overall main question I have is what has caused all of this. I personally have no recollection of advertising campaigns from converse so it's not that. So are converse shoes simply a popularity inciting social status and therefore making them a must have for all wanna be's or are they simply the ultimate design of shoe and therefore are preferred because they are simply a quality product?

Personally I believe I think the latter hence why I think more of their owners but what is your opinion?


Jonathon said...

YAAAY!! Cons!!!
I think con's are definately a fashion statement, and although they have very few marketing campaigns, they have been seen in TV shows and movies for a good couple of decades.
You can even get kiddie cons now which are pretty sweet, but I guess as the children grow up they are going to remember the style and branding.
And I think they are part of a group of people, I rarely see jocks wearing cons, generally, they are worn by a large group of people, but these people generally are all fans of indie rock, old school rock, alternative music, or just retro looking clothing. But if you think back to high school, who were the people who wore cons. I don't remember any of the jocks wearing them... but Brodie and Warren were both big fans, and guess what, they both play instruments.
They are definitely comfy shoes, although not the best made. I've been through numerous pairs in the past few years, but I guess with any shoe sooner or later it will fall apart, although I'm pretty sure in recent years the quality standard would have dropped.

Lili said...

I find myself completely agreeing with basically everything Jonathon said.

Whilst originally, I don't think Converse was identified with, "fans of indie rock, old school rock, alternative music, or just retro looking clothing" it certainly felt that way to me when "Chucks" became popular, again, in recent years.

I remember Converse shoes being really popular back in the mid 90's, and then their popularity faded out a bit, and I have no idea what made Converse shoes so popular again in recent years - probably to do with the fact they had a new line. Maybe the "dead" period was because there were no distinctively new lines coming out.

Converse reminds me somewhat of Twilight. Yes, shoot me... but... Just like Twilight, Converse has been around for ages, was popular originally, and then there wasn't much hype thereafter... Then years later, randomly, it becomes the biggest thing ever, for what seems to be no apparent reason whatsoever... or at least that's how it appeared to me. Some things just work like that I guess...? Never underestimate the power of advertising via "word of mouth". It's how Amaranth got running in 2007, and was a heavily concentrated on, as a result, in 2008.

I remember the thing that made me want Converse shoes so much back in the day was because I heard their quality was exceptionally good. (Word of mouth, again.) It probably was actually exceptionally good quality, back in the day compared to its competitors, but today, most other brands have caught up. It might be that it's not because they're the best quality shoes, but because they've had the image of being quality shoes for a lot longer?

I have no idea - I was stumped as to why Converse became so popular again within what seemed to be the span of about a month, and increasingly so, there-after. And I still am stumped, years down the track. xD

Tannie said...

@Jono: I know they appear a lot in TV shows but I have to question whether this is product placement or whether they are simply used because they are simply the thing indie kids tend to prefer.

I think I agree wit you on the lowered quality though. When I got my first pair I expected them to really last. Sure I did take them for a dip in the shepp lake but still I expected a bit more. That pair was from ebay though so I hold some skepticism for it, Now I have a shp pair I'll be able to see if there is actually anything to it.

@ Lili: Wow...that like bigger than my entire post.

You make a good point though word of mouth is really powerful. The benefit to it is first off you don't have to pay for it. Second you don't have to keep to promises passed on via word of mouth because it's not coming from your mouth.

Because of this ig someone were to buy cons and be unhappy with the quality then they would be less unhappy with converse and more with whoever told them this.

The risk with this is that it can bounce back and become a negative word of mouth chain however somehow converse has either lucked out or had some strategy in order to stop bad word of mout press.

~kao said...

I believe converse came back in around my area around the same time that the "emo" wave passed through the school. @_@ Everyone was buying converse and dying their hair black.

Like Jonathon said, the people who wear them are usually fans of inde rock, old school rock, alternative musc and retro looking clothing. I'm not sure about this on a widespread scale, but in my area at least, the "alternative" emo look no doubt supported the popularity of converse.

I imagine there was simply a new wave of fashion, one that converse shoes fitted right into, making them popular without the use of excessive advertising (product placement aside)

I never liked them >_> They were too mainstream for me.

Sodman2k said...

Ahh yes... the Ol'Converse Chuck Taylor All-stars~
Great shoes, great history.
From my understanding they were ment to be a cheaper alternative to the sneakers that were being produced by shoe companies throughout the 20th century, being constructed reletively simplily from fairly cheap materials (canvas and rubber) rather than the "hi-tech" direction taken by other sport shoes.
They were made popular by basketball, in particualar one "Chuck Taylor". As hightop shoes they were perfect for basketball, suporting the heel and ankle joints, protecting the wearer from the significant strain of running, jumping, twisting ect ect that a basketballers foot would be subject to.
The point they became fashionable at must have been in the '70s, where the American punk subculture picked up on them, instead of the UK punk's Doc Martins. Bands such as The Ramones were particular supporters.
Since then Chucks have always been a symbol of the alternative music scene, although punk-esque streams are the only examples I can come up with... In the '90s revival it was the new wave of punk that made them popular again, being Grunge (Kurt Cobain of Nirvana seemed to always wear them) and Pop-punk (Greenday and Blink-182).
The reason they are so common now, I supose, is due to the the '90s revival. Grunge and Pop-punk is so easily digestible than old-school punk-rock, hence the exposure is so much larger.
History lesson over.
On a personal note: I couldn't care less what the branding on the side is, I love this shoe design. In fact, I would prefer unbranded ones, because Converse is now owned by Nike, and we all know how humanity-friendly that particular corperation is.
I had an immitation pair that lasted a year and a half before I killed them, which I did by skating. It's amazing how easily grip-tape wears through rubber and canvas. :P
If you want a good quality shoes, that will last forever and give your feet brilliant support, get a pair of aforementioned Doc Martins.
If you want a light, unrestricting, comfortable shoe that will give your feet brilliant support, get canvas high-tops.
Mary-mother-of-Jesus that got out of hand...

Tannie said...

You touched on a good note with the nike ownership. I believe I'm much the same with the shoes. It's the style I like. A friend of mine after seeing this also pointed out the Nike thing and mentioned it is actually possible to get fair trade ones for about $5 less if you can find whatever the store is. I forget the name now.

So next time I think I'll prefer that choice. However it brings up an interest point in that if the style is the important thing then why do converse not have a monopoly on this style

Sodman2k said...

The design and construction is so simple that anyone can copy them.
As such it's proably not worth trying to protect the design, but rather the brand itself.
Acctually (this just occured to me), the design is probably so old that it's Public Domain.
A quick wikipedia search gives the following:
-The design was first made in 1917
-Most modern Intellectual Property restrictions run upto a maxamim of 100 years, the vast mjority being much shorter.