Just when I thought I was out, they drag me back in: The Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II

I like Chucks. I used to love them but over the past two years I got fed-up with the quality and pricing of these shoes.

To my knowledge I haven't changed anything about the way I wear them, I didn't gain weight, and I still rarely wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row; but whereas before I knew that a pair of Chucks would last me about 1.5 years, I've had pairs (low top and high top) that only held up a mere six months before they fell apart.
Add to that the fact that a pair of high top Chucks sells for a ridiculous € 75.– in German retail stores (I wrote about this in detail two years ago) while genuine high tops can be had for ~ € 16.– in Beijing (as I was able to see first-hand during a recent trip to China).

These experiences have changed my attitude towards the brand and the product for the worse and caused me to actively look for more durable, comfortable, stylish, and less overpriced alternatives (… to add to my evoked set). There are a couple of sneaker companies out there that make really nice, high-quality sneakers and shoes (Pointer, Boxfresh, Nike, etc.) and over the past two years, I've bought shoes from all of them.

About a week ago Converse/Nike introduced the first major update to this product line in nearly a century, resulting in the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II. I'm not a sneaker fan, so the initial news/hype about the new version completely passed me by and I only got wind of it when I walked past a sneaker shop in Bonn.

A quick trip to the Converse website revealed the key features: a removable, well-cushioned Lunarlon sockliner (pretty comfortable Nike technology, if you ask me), a padded non-slip tongue that is held in place by two elastic bands, perforated micro suede lining, and Tencel® canvas on the outside, which, from experience, is more durable than cotton and regulates moisture more effectively.

I'm having trouble remembering if there was every time when where there wasn't at least one pair of Chucks in my shoe rack. I always liked that you can combine them with pretty much anything, that they don't look to extravagant and they're timeless shoes at this point. For this reason I decided to give the new version a chance.

My initial impressions after wearing them in a shop in Trier are that the Lunarlon sockliner has the potential to bea lot more comfortable than the footbed of the old version, the canvas feels nice, and the overall workmanship seems to have seen significant improvements, too.
While I'm not sold on the perforated suede and the padded tongue and ankles, the shoes felt so good on my feet that I found myself standing outside the shop 15 minutes later with a box containing vivid blue high top Chucks in my hands:

Time and wear will tell whether the overall quality and durability have been improved enough during the redesign, so I'll have an easier time convincing myself that paying € 80.– for a pair of Chucks isn't completely bonkers. Maybe I will even start keeping more than one pair in my shoe rack once again.

Alex Hoffmann @mangochutney