“ I really want a pair of white Converse,” my ten year old informed me this morning*.
“Put them on the list,” I said, “the list” being the Christmas list.
She looked at me suspiciously.
“What?” I said.
“I’m just not sure about Santa,” she said. “How does he pay for everything? What if everyone wants Converse? They’re not cheap. They’re £27. I Googled them.”
“Oh look, a giant bat has just flown past the window under the misapprehension that it’s already Halloween,” I said. “More cereal?”
God bless the economic prudence of a ten year old girl, and the youthful naivety that considers £27 for a pair of shoes to be expensive. In fact, it’s £45 for a pair of white Converse in her size (I Googled too), but even so, this is not a bad price for an item of footwear that will, essentially, last you forever.
There was no bat flying past the window this morning, clearly, but my daughter’s comment was spooky enough without one, given that some 24 hours previously, John Lewis had released its annual retail report for 2016. What had the high street bellwether identified as the most popular shoe of the year? Why, the white Converse All Star. “The footwear of choice was a pair of classic 90’s style white trainers, sported by Victoria Beckham, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and Alexa Chung,” quoth the report. “Taking inspiration from this, sales of white Converse at John Lewis were higher than any other women’s shoe line.”
I can see why John Lewis felt it expedient to sex-up its report with these celebrity names, and have no doubt that Kendall, Gigi et al have been spotted in Converse. While Converse are never really out of fashion, it’s fair to say that they’ve been particularly in fashion in 2016. We know this because women who can afford thousands of pounds for a pair of shoes are opting to wear them in lieu of their Loubs / Yeezys / sequinned Diors. That Converse would have a Moment this year was obvious, for while fashion is cyclical, it’s also reliably bipolar. What’s the perfect antidote to the recent glut of expensive, frou-frou, blingy designer trainers? Their antithesis: Converse All Stars.
It’s dandy that so many celebrities are wearing Converse, but it’s also largely irrelevant. Celebrity endorsement is not the point of Converse, and it never will be. Converse aren’t something you buy because you saw them on Victoria Beckham: they were familiar before that, probably because you saw them on a mate, or in a shop, or on the feet of a complete stranger. My daughter saw mine on me, and also on a bunch of her friends. How could she not? They’re everywhere! And if they are even more ubiquitous than usual this year (and they are, aren’t they?) it’s not because of Kendall, but because they are the perfect post-Brexit shoe. They are our caution and our prudence made manifest: a canny buy, affordably priced, built to last, and basic in the best of ways. So the next time a magazine or style blog urges you to “wear yours with bare legs and a slip dress for added style points”, tell them to go raffle themselves, and carry on wearing them with jeans, denim shorts and black opaques or whatever else your favoured combination, safe in the knowledge that they’re too iconic to be whupped into the slipstream of seasonal trends. Converse never go out of style. They are beyond style.
White, black, grey, navy, zany pink or otherwise, they’re just your Converse; your rubber-soled pals who’ve been with you through thick and thin. And always will be.
*I realise this sounds made up, but on my life it is true.