Confessions of a Converse Collector | Sydney Hecht
If you know me at all, you know that my entire wardrobe revolves around one thing and one thing only: the color of my current-favorite pair of Converse. If you see me walking around campus (or anywhere, in fact), I'm almost always wearing my brownish-maroon, beaten-up Chuck 70's. Along with being my most comfortable and favorite shoes, they mark a new era in my time as a Converse-fanatic.
I think my obsession with Converse officially began when in fifth grade, my family took a trip to San Francisco. We were exploring Union Square, which, if you aren't familiar with the area, is a very crowded, very busy shopping district downtown, and came across the Converse Factory Store. As we walked inside, we saw hundreds of shoes lining the walls of the two-story warehouse, massive lines trailing out the front door, and a booth where you could design a custom pair of sneakers. Naturally, my sister and I begged our parents and eventually waited in line for an hour to personalize our shoes. To save you from the details, my parents learned an important lesson that day; letting a fifth-grader with my (unique) fashion sense design her own pair of overpriced converse is never a good idea. So, the next day, I walked out of the Converse Factory Store sporting my bright orange, personalized Converse, each covered in a cluster of bubble-like patterns and my name plastered on either side. Despite my younger sister's very judgemental (and, in retrospect, understandable) critiques, I was absolutely in love with them. I'd wear them every day, with every outfit I had. I wore them so consistently that by the beginning of the following year, they'd be completely worn out and sentenced to the back of my closet, (thankfully) never to be seen again.
Without my bright orange converse, it was time for a change. My sixth-grade experience was entirely made possible by my new pair of navy blue low-top shoes. Although they weren't as bright or personalized as my last pair, they still continued to go everywhere I did. And by the end of that year, the soles were so worn through that the bottom of the shoe disconnected entirely, leaving me to rely solely on a piece of scotch tape to hold them together. Unfortunately for me, my mom saw that they made it to the trash can before I noticed they were missing, inviting a new, much-less exciting pair to take their place as my go-to shoe.
Finally, in seventh grade, I caved and purchased my first plain white high-tops. Don't get me wrong, it's hard to go wrong with an essential white shoe. But, compared to my shoe choices in previous years, this purchase was a slight letdown. Still, my loyalty shone through, and I continued to rely on them for every outfit, now that they actually matched with everything in my closet. And, now that I was finally old enough to make an effort to preserve the lives of my shoes, they've lasted for five years now, and are still prone to making an appearance every once in a while.
Finally, this past year, I decided to buy my go-to, everyday brown Chuck 70's. At first, I was disappointed; I wasn’t sure what I would be able to pair them with in my closet, or of whether I liked the color, and I wished I took the opportunity to abandon my impartiality to the brand by diversifying my shoe selection. But, as with every other pair of Converse I’ve ever had, I’ve consistently worn them almost every day, covering them in turf and bright red track-stains and spilled coffee, and they’ve easily grown to be my favorite pair yet.
Looking back, the colors of Converse I’ve owned at different times in my life have a way of reflecting what things were like back then. When I see the color orange, I'm brought back to good memories of my elementary school career; singing songs with my grandma, going on field trips, and sporting my bright shoes wherever I went. Navy, a mix of the obnoxious orange and the neutrals of my teenage Converse collection, reflects my sixth-grade self perfectly, who was defined by the "in-between" stage of being a kid and a teenager and the oldest child all at once. The basic white high-tops I got in seventh-grade show middle-school-Sydney's mission to fit in. And my prized, brownish-red, beat-up Chuck 70's show that slow progression back into a more colorful version of my life. And maybe this is a bit dramatic for just a pair of shoes, but isn’t it cool to reflect and see how things have changed?