The All Star Double Wrap Style Vulcanized Outsole
Do you want to know how Converse All Stars are made? The Converse All Star and Jack Purcell and other Converse classics are made with the vulcanized shoe making process.
The Birth of the Chuck Taylor All Star:
Marquis Mills Converse opened the Converse Rubber Shoe Company in Malden, Massachusetts in 1908. The company was a rubber shoe manufacturer, making vulcanized rubber soled footwear for men, women, and children. In 1915 the company began manufacturing vulcanized athletic shoes for tennis and other sports.
In 1917 when the Converse All-Star basketball shoe was introduced. Then in 1921, a basketball player named Charles H. “Chuck” Taylor became a salesman and ambassador, promoting the shoes around the United States, and in 1932 Taylor’s signature was added to the All Star patch. From them on the All Star also became known as “Chuck Taylor’s” or just “Chucks”
“vulcanize: The process of heating raw rubber to cure it. This process creates cross linking inside the rubber compounds bonding it together. Before the rubber is vulcanized it is stretchable, gummy and very easy to tear. After being vulcanized the rubber is very tough, stretchable and ready to wear.”
How the All Star is Made: Vulcanized
In the Converse vulcanized shoe making process the soft white rubber shoe outsole parts are attached to the shoe upper before the rubber is heat cured. With the sole parts attached, the entire shoe must be heated in an vulcanizing oven. The shoe is heated to around 170˚C – that is over 300˚F! The heat required to vulcanize the rubber sole can melt nylon and polyester fabrics. Converse All Stars must be made of heat-resistant materials like suede leather and cotton canvas with metal hardware. This limits the material choices for the Converse footwear designers so they need to be creative!
Converse All Stars Assembly:
The Converse All Star is a Double wrap shoe. The first operation is the bonding and trimming of the toe cap part. The upper then receives a pre-wrap before the rubber outsole is attached. The pre-wrap is thinner layer of rubber, tall enough to cover the upper and wraps down around the bottom edge of the upper. After the pre-wrap and outsole are bonded and outer wrap is applied. The final operation attaches the textured toe foxing tape and rear “license plate” heel logo part. These parts cover the seams of the outer wrap.
Vulcanize Factory Equipment:
The vulcanized shoemaking process must be made in a specific factory equipped with lots of special machines. The shoemaking equipment required is very different from the equipment needed to make cold cement shoes. A shoe factory will usually specialize in one process or the other, you will rarely find both vulcanized and cold cement processes inside the same factory.
The upper stitching and construction of a Converse vulcanized shoe is nearly the same as a cold cement shoe. The inside reinforcements for the toe and heel counters are made of thin rubber sheets instead of plastic. Again, due to the high temperature required for the vulcanized rubber, any kind of plastic or PVC logos or trim treatments must be avoided when designing a vulcanized shoe. The lining of Converse shoes are made from light weight cotton canvas.
While the uppers being stitched, the rubber components for the vulcanized sole unit must be prepared. The rubber components for vulcanized shoes have a shelf life of only a few days. If the rubber parts are made and set aside the rubber will begin to oxidize, partially cure, and will not properly cure when the shoes are finally getting vulcanized.
This Factory makes shoes the same way Converse makes the All Star
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