The Converse sneaker company has a deal at the Galleria now until Christmas: Bring a new pair of Chuck Taylor All Stars — doesn't matter where you bought them — and Converse artists will bedazzle them with different color laces, grommets (the holes for laces) and aglets (the plastic tips at the end of laces). Then, you can put shiny beads, lightning bolts, stars, slogans, original drawings or anything else on your Chucks. Let your imagination and individuality go wild. As Madonna (who's known to wear Cons) once said: express yourself.
It's called "Chucks By You," and the Galleria is one of only four malls in America offering free customization of your sneakers. The pop-up shop is on the lower level of Galleria II. It's right in the middle and big and busy — you can't miss it.
Slap sparkles and stickers on Chuck Taylor All Stars? While we're at it, give me a Magic Marker and I'll draw a mustache on the Mona Lisa.
Because that's what messing with Chuck Taylor All Stars means to me. I think change is good, but not everything. (Upside down Christmas trees. Really?)
CultureMap editor Steven Devadanam and I picked up some Chuck Taylors last Saturday, and took them to the Converse pop-up. Steve got a pair of kid's black sneakers for Mila, his girlfriend's 8-year-old daughter, and had the Converse elves glam 'em up with new laces and decals and...I couldn't bear to watch.
I never took my black low-tops out of the bag. I told Converse: "I'm good."
In fact, I'll wear them home. As is.
Chuck Taylor All Stars have become every bit the American fashion icon as a dark blue business suit and little black dress. But back when, Chucks meant basketball. Some 90 percent of college and pro players wore Chuck Taylors in the '60s. "Pistol" Pete Maravich averaged 44 points a game for LSU wearing floppy socks and black Chucks. The most dominant pro team in U.S. sports history, the Bill Russell-era Boston Celtics wore black Chucks while winning 11 NBA titles, including eight in a row, between 1957 and 1969.
Russell's last title was the same year George Harrison wore Chuck Taylors on the Apple rooftop — the Beatles last public performance. Paul McCartney still wears Cons. It's part of his animal rights stance.
New York City playground kids and gym rats in the '60s and '70s wore their beloved Knicks' gear from head to...ankle. Down below, it had to be Boston Celtics black Chuck Taylors. They cost twice as much as Keds and PF Flyers, but cool carried a price. They're about $50 now. In today's sneaker world, that's affordable.
The Converse Rubber Shoe Company introduced Chuck Taylor sneakers in the 1920s and they've never gone out of style. They're also the biggest-selling athletic shoe in history. Converse estimates it's sold 1 billion pairs of the classic sneaker. Rihanna loves her Chuck Taylors.
Chuck Hollis "Chuck" Taylor was a high school basketball player turned crackerjack shoe salesman. He went to work for Converse in 1923 and created the iconic "Converse All Star" patch that still adorns the company's high-top sneakers. In 1932, his signature was added to the patch.
During World War II, Chuck Taylor All Stars were the official training shoe of the U.S. Military.
Chuck Taylors were one of the first shoes specifically designed for basketball players. As sneaker technology advanced, Chucks faded from the b-ball court and became a hippie and punk fashion statement. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead and Rolling Stones put on Chuck Taylors for concerts.
The last NBA player to wear canvas Chuck Taylor All Stars was Tree Rollins in 1980.
Nike bought Converse in 2003. Now they make Chuck Taylor's in different colors, like "Mediterranean Blue," and different fabrics and styles. A Converse spokesperson told me the "Chucks By You" promotion is mostly for teen-age girls, hippies hanging on, sneakerheads, thoughtful aunts and uncles, and folks who remember the last time they were cool.
The "Chucks By You" Kiosk runs Friday through Sunday, 10 am to mall closing; and Monday through Thursday, 12 pm to mall closing, at The Galleria II - Level 1, across from Topshop.