Converse Chuck 70 – Screen Icons

Part of the reason why Converse is such a cultural phenomena is its role within film. Over the years Converse has featured in iconic moments on the big screen, capturing the spirit of the time, era-defining styles and showing new generations why for so many years the brand has been a true definition of cool.

After starting as a basketball model, Converse was soon on the feet of artists, musicians, skaters and virtually everyone else in-between. A feature of underground counter-cultural movements but still touching the mainstream, Converse’s appeal has always been cross-generational.

Converse’s prominence on screen is so powerful as film is a timeless emblem of nostalgic periods of culture. Looking back on the Chuck 70 in movies and TV, it is easy to see why the label so strongly embodies American fashion history throughout the ages. It is this mix of pop culture, history and Americana that gives Converse its legacy as a timeless classic.

This season at HIP we explored the style icons and trendsetters that have embraced the Chuck 70, taking inspiration from famous moments on screen to highlight why Converse and pop culture are so intertwined.

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Seinfeld (1989-1998)

Seinfeld is a classic American sitcom that revolutionised TV in many ways. The show’s humour and clever observations cemented its legacy within pop culture. Style wise, look back at Seinfeld and you will see ’90s trends that have returned to prominence today. At the heart of this is the Chuck 70 – a casual lifestyle shoe ever-popular at the time.

Grease (1978)

American musical-play turned film, Grease, so famously charters the rock-and-roll summer of 1950 as a group of high-school kids experience romance, friendship and adventure. Fixed in 20th century pop culture, Grease showcases the legacy of Converse in the ’50s better than no other, as the shoe pops up in the background of so many scenes. The Chuck 70 is worn to the gym, to dance, go to class and even when celebrating the end of the school year – a true style staple of the period

Back To The Future (1985)

Back To The Future is a legendary film that brought its own version of sci-fi to the fore in ’80s, as it became number one movie of the year in 1985, marking the start of its franchise. Back To The Future cleverly balances sci-fi with comedy and cynicism as it depicts the life of suburban teenager Marty, and his best friend, an eccentric scientist. The protagonist travels back in time to the 1950’s, as the film humorously points out the differences between the eras. Although one thing that remains consistent between the time travelling is Marty’s impeccable Americana style – dad jeans make an appearance with vintage wash denim jackets and puffer vests, alongside none other than Converse’s most famous silhouette the Black Chuck 70 Hi.

Rocky (1976)

The start of a franchise that would span decades, the first Rocky film in 1976 was an immediate blockbuster and marked the emergence of Sylvester Stallone within Hollywood. Rocky is a story of a small-time boxer getting the chance of a lifetime to fight for a World Championship. In most of Rocky Balboa’s training scenes, he is pictured working out in the cult Chuck 70 Hi Top in Black. One of the most well-known movie scenes of all time, Balboa sports the Chuck 70’s as he races up the 72 steps of Philadelphia’s Museum of Art – a metaphor for the underdog rising up into a champion.

Stand By Me (1986)

A classic coming of age film about four boys living in a small American town who embarked on an adventure that would change them forever, Stand By Me has long-since been revered as a tale of adolescence, friendship and life. Set in the late summer of 1959, Converse is worn throughout Stand By Me and is a key style reference as the film captures American boyhood in the 1950’s.

The Basketball Diaries (1995)

The Basketball Diaries is based around a diary later published by poet, author and musician, Jim Carroll, chronicling his early teens growing up in ’60s New York and descending into the city’s dark underworld. The film captures the gritty streets of NY, portraying Jim (played by Leonardo Di Caprio) and his friends as they navigate their youth in a world of drug addiction. The Chuck 70 is worn throughout the film by Jim and his basketball team, showing the early foundation of the shoe on court as well as the style of New York’s youth in the era.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Another film central to Converse’s pop culture legacy is The Breakfast Club – an ’80s indie favourite portraying five high-school stereotypes about to enter into adulthood. Over the course of a detention, the contrasting personalities realise they may have more in common than they think, as writer/director John Hughes captures the nuances of teenage life in a film as relatable as any. The group all sport their own version of ’80s American style, with the vibe of the era none more summed up by Converse – a staple footwear choice for teenagers for decades before, during and after the film.