Full disclosure: I never owned a pair of the previous cheapened-up version of the Converse Jack Purcell myself. But I did own and love a few pairs of Jack Purcells in the years (early – mid 2000s?) leading up to the re-design (last year) which caused some controversy. This brand new “Signature” version seems to be an attempt to put that cheaper JP design to rest.
Have there been improvements made over the previous, panned version of Converse’s iconic Jack Purcell shoe? Yes, it appears that way. Does this re-design return the Jack Purcell to its original glory, if not surpass that standard, thanks to the increased price of $95?
For most, that answer is probably no.
The substantially layered “Smile” is back. But now it’s bright blue?
The Good Stuff
The construction & stitching looks to be better finished, the vent holes have been raised back above the in sole (so, y’know, they can actually function), and that signature cap-toe & smile returns to its previous, deeper cut-out. The herringbone sole & Nike Zoom Air equipped footbed feel nice and squishy. One of the main advantages to JPs over Chuck Taylors has always been (to some of us) a noticeable increase in comfort over long periods of wear. And the cushioning on these seems back to being better than average.
Stitching is more finished, insole is nice and soft. The canvas though, is not soft.
The Not So Good Stuff
The two ply duck canvas they used for “added strength and durability” will probably deliver on that promise… but it’s friggin’ stiff. They honestly feel like they’re going to need some break in time, which isn’t something you’d think to expect from a canvas sneaker, especially one that many of us wear sockless in the summer. Going sockless with these, out of the box, might get uncomfortable. Quick.
Every piece of rubber on these things (aside from the sole) looks like it was dipped in some sort of latex compound before leaving the factory. There’s a strange, high-shine gloss on the sidewalls and toe, making them look unfairly plastick-y. Meanwhile, on that legendary toe, the smile has been brightened up to a true “Converse” shade of blue. That seems like something too minor to quibble about, but not everyone is going to like that switch away from a more subdued shade.
There’s a weird latex-like gloss finish to the rubber elements.
The Bottom Line
Manufacturing costs are going up everywhere, but to price the new Jack Purcell “Signature” so comparatively high seems like an invitation for blow-back from fans of the original. Especially when there are so many other canvas sneakers on the market in the $45 – $70 range.
If you’re looking for a summer-ready canvas sneaker that’s built better and has more cushioning than a Chuck Taylor… yet you can do without that classic toe-cap, strongly consider the Superga Cotu Classic. The canvas is soft out of the box, the natural rubber sole provides great cushioning, and the eyelets, laces, rubber elements, and stitching feel solid & substantial.
And compared to the Jack Purcell Signature, those Supergas will cost you thirty bucks less.