Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II – $69.95 (via Nordstrom)
About the author: Adam Terry is a 28-year-old Technical Trainer in the heating and manufacturing industry. He’s #menswear by day and #workwear by night. He enjoys raw selvedge denim, Scotch whisky, and working on maintaining his dad bod.
The Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II is not a direct replacement for the original. Frankly, it’s quite hard to improve on one of the most legendary sneakers of the past century. Instead, the All Star II is like a great movie sequel – it’s The Empire Strikes Back (not that Phantom Menace garbage). Converse took all of your favorite characters and gave them modern sensibilities for 2015.
In the looks department, the most notable change comes with the new Tencel canvas upper. The boffins in the Converse lab swapped out the thin, floppy cotton canvas upper for a thicker, sturdier canvas material. The thicker canvas certainly feels more durable, and feels like a true challenger to PF Flyers’ heavy weight canvas. For those that prefer the classic Hi Tops over the low top “Oxfords”, you may finally get some proper ankle support as well. The classic racing stripe along the outsole is gone, replaced by all-white foxing.
Also new is a soft, perforated micro suede liner and collar that does actually help your feet breathe better during longer periods of wear. If you prefer to go sockless, the squishy liner is a miracle; the All Star II is comfortable to wear all day. In comparison, it makes the classic All Star feel like a rough burlap sack with laces. In addition to the added comfort, the liner also makes the All Star IIs feel more “fitted”. They still fit true-to-Chuck size, so there’s no need to size up.
Elastic gussets keep the tongue in place.
One of the biggest complaints about the original All Star design is the tongue that likes to work its way to one side or the other throughout the day. The redesigned tongue is now padded with the same micro suede material and is held in place with two elastic gussets (also used on the slip-on originals). Problem solved.
Courtesy of parent company Nike, the All Star IIs have an all-new, removable Lunarlon sock liner. If you’re familiar with any of Nike’s current athletic shoes or Cole Haan’s “Lunargrand” series of Oxfords, you’ve probably heard the name before. The Lunarlon sock liner adds full-foot cushioning and arch support, something high-arched Converse fans have been screaming for. Converse tried to address these issues previously with additions of the Jack Purcell Signature and All Star ‘70s models, both of which have improved cushioning, but the Lunarlon insole is the best of the bunch. By distributing the force of impact more evenly, the Lunarlon foam helps reduce painful pressure points on the feet.
All rubber soles = no more fuzz.
A small, but noticed change, is a new all-rubber sole. Gone is the fabric and rubber sole used to classify the original All Stars as slippers (thus avoiding high-import tariffs… yes really). The new all-rubber sole should give more life to the soles, allowing you to trek safely all the way to Dagobah.
TL;DR – If you like the original Converse All Stars but wish they were more comfortable or more durable, give the All Star IIs a try. If you prefer the flat-soled, floppy canvas version, stick with the originals. It’s a win-win.