The Converse All Star Double Wrap Style Vulcanized Outsole
Do you want to know how Converse All Star shoes are made? The Converse All Star, the Jack Purcell, and other Converse classics are made using the vulcanized shoemaking 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, 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 these shoes around the United States. In 1932, Taylor’s signature was added to the All-Star patch. From then 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
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 a thin layer of rubber, tall enough to cover the upper, which wraps down around the bottom edge of the upper. After the pre-wrap and outsole are bonded and the 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 done in a specific factory equipped with many special machines. The shoemaking equipment required for vulcanizing 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 also made from light weight cotton canvas.
While the uppers are 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 being vulcanized.
This factory makes shoes the same way Converse makes the All Star
Want to learn more about how vulcanized shoes are made? Check out Chapter 12 in the book How Shoes are Made.
Learn more about making shoes:Do you want to learn how big brands make shoes? Now you can! How Shoes are Made will show you how modern shoes come to life! More than just a tour through a sneaker factory and more than your average shoe making book! From drawing shoe designs to sample development and footwear manufacturing, you will learn how it is all done. Written by veteran shoemaking pros, How Shoes are Made will give you a look inside the REAL world of shoe design, development, and mass production. 220 pages with over 400 color photos and drawings. 26 chapters explaining shoe design, footwear pattern making, sample development, footwear materials selection, upper stitching, outsole and tooling design, shoe lasts, shoe costing, quality inspections, starting you own shoe brand, and much more! A must read for young shoe designers, sneaker heads, or any footwear fanatic! Over 2500 copies sold! Read in 60 Countries! See Preview Video On YouTube
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Table of Contents:The Design Process, Shoe Development, Shoe Patterns, Shoe Specifications, Outsole Tooling, Development Process, Pre-Production, Material Preparation, Stitching Operations, Rubber Pressing, EVA Forming, The Assembly Line, The Shoe Last, Footwear Costing, Importing Shoes, Shoe Logo Design, Leather for Shoes, Textiles for Shoes ,Synthetics for Shoes, Foam for Shoes, Know Your Footbeds, Material Suppliers, Shoe Designers Tools, Jobs in the Shoe Trade ,Quality Control, Starting a Shoe Company, Life at a Shoe Factory, Shoe Making Dictionary
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