The Boston shoe giant Converse started nearly a century ago. The company named their most famous shoe after Chuck Taylor, the basketball player in the 1930s. The shoes made by Converse have graced the feet of celebrities including James Dean, Kurt Cobain, Wiz Khalifa and Kristen Stewart. Such are their demand. Additionally, American soldiers in the First World War have worn them as well. Being so much in demand has its perks and drawbacks. However, the company protects its signature shoe line since there are a lot of companies out there who would copy their designs in a heartbeat. Some of the main issues and scandals Converse faces are as follows:
Presently some of the core elements of its widely recognizable Chuck Taylor sneakers such as the ones with the black stripes and a rubber toe topper — are being designed by the likes of Wal-Mart, Kmart, Sketchers and others. Therefore, in its defense, Converse protects its Chuck Taylor line in taking action against these companies in court, accusing them of trademark infringement in 22 separate lawsuits. While this company, now owned by Nike, is pursuing infringement charges against these companies for monetary or financial damages, the main urgency here is getting rid of impersonators off the shelves. Moreover, the company in protecting its Chuck Taylor line is engaged in a separate protest with the International Trade Commission, who has the authority to bring to an end any shoes rumored to be forged from arriving into the country.
The primary goal here for Converse is to prevent the forged shoes to take over its shoe line in stores as well as online, since they have a reputation of selling these popular shoe wear for about a century now.
Allegations of Sweatshops and Child Labour
It is well-known that U.S. condemns sweatshops and child labor, however Converse is not the only brand who has spread their wings and uses cheap labor by getting their products made in other countries where the material and labor cost is within their budgets. However, several concerns were recently raised against Converse for supporting sweatshops and praising child labor. Now workers making Nike shoes at a factory in Indonesia say they are physically and mentally abused. Factory employees at the Sukabumi plant, which is about 60 miles from Jakarta, accused supervisors habitually flinging shoes at them, slapping them in their faces, kicking them and calling them foul names such as dogs and pigs. However, due to the fear of punishment, labor garnishments or getting fired, laborers are afraid to speak or stand up against these harassments. The only choices that the factory workers have is to stay and endure, or stand up for themselves and get fired.
Although the company protects its Chuck Taylor line, Nike has admitted that some of the above allegations are true. However, the company says it is helpless and has little power to stop these actions from happening in the territories outside of the U.S. After several interviews and pieces of information released by the company, there has not been any action against such inhuman practices. This suggests that the company is lacking in meeting the standards that it set for itself a while back to end its dependency on sweatshops and child labor.
By Ambereen Ahmed
Edited by Maurice Cassidy
New York Times: Converse Sues to Protect Its Chuck Taylor All Stars
Daily Mail: Nike workers ‘kicked, slapped and verbally abused’ at factories making Converse
Boston Herald: Chuck Taylor redo a leap for Converse
Top Photo Courtesy of Steven Guzzardi’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Photo Courtesy of Eden, Janine and Jim’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License