Top positive review
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Great shoes, but see below for info on size codes. (4/5 green stars)
on January 2, 2015
Overall, Chuck’s are a comfortable, ergonomic, and sustainable choice for footwear. I usually choose the Hi-tops over the low style because sometimes the low style converse chaff a little at the back of the heel. Love both styles though, and Converse are my standard go-to shoes. Compared to cushioned running shoes the canvas keeps my feet cooler and I feel that the flat soles are better for my feet.
The sizing codes are a frequent source of confusion – they refer to the width only. Here’s a quick guide: Narrow width is labeled as AA for women and C for men; Medium width is labeled as B for women and D for men; Wide shoes are labeled C or D for women and E for men; Extra wide is labeled E for women and EE for men. So, the medium with is most common, and they are often listed as B(M) for women and D(M) for men – in both cases the M stands for medium width. If you see UK after the size then it’s using the British width system, where the scale is C, D, E, F, G, H, with F bring the medium. Regarding whether it’s a women’s size or men’s the product info should state women’s or men’s (to avoid confusion with the width designations F or M). You can convert between US women’s and men’s sizes using the size chart link under the size. All of the UK sizes on Amazon are for UK men (same as US men in most cases) use the size chart if you want to see the equivalent size for US women. Still with me?!
You can now recycle your old Chuck’s at many Nike stores. The rubber will end up in tracks and playgrounds and the canvas in courts. Tip: their online store locator doesn’t seem to be accurate in terms of listing stores with drop-off locations. I called a SF store that didn’t have a recycling drop-off according to the website and it turned out that they actually did. So just call your local Nike store!
There’s a lot of evidence now that being closer to barefoot (minimal cushioning and little or no elevation at the heel) is much better for your feet. For example, research shows that when running in highly-cushioned modern running shoes, people are more likely to come down on their heels, and that these heel-strikes can be very high-impact (Lieberman, Nature 2010). Converse (along with Tom’s, Vibram, etc.) fit the bill for a close-to-barefoot shoe experience that will help keep your feet in shape. I once had an injury and was advised to wear arch-supporting insoles (which I wore in my Converse), but after recovery I took out the insoles (and only occasionally wear trainers with cushioned insoles) since the “arch-support” can lead to muscle atrophy and, ironically, loss of arches.
Perhaps it’s sad that Nike bought Converse in 2003 and moved production overseas (Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, and other locations) since Nike has a dark past when it comes to conditions in overseas factories. They are clearly working on this since the boycotts and outrage in the 90’s, but the situation is still not perfect. As of 2011, two-thirds of the 168 factories failed to meet Nike’s own standards for contract manufacturing (for example, there were reports of kicking, slapping, verbal abuse, and cruel work environments). I think they are trying to be more transparent about worker conditions since they’ve been under the spotlight more than some of their competitors (like Adidas). However, this clearly needs to change, and quickly.
In terms of materials, the canvas and synthetic rubber composition puts Converse above average in terms of sustainability. There is room for improvement of course. For example, Veja shoes (ranked higher on Rankabrand), have better worker conditions and are more eco-friendly; they’re made using organic canvas and natural rubber that’s sustainably harvested in the Chico Mendes reserve in the Amazon. I plan to try them out; they’re available through an Amazon company called East Dane. Meanwhile, I love Converse as a product and hope that Nike will sort out their factory conditions situation. Nike (in 2011) claimed that they work working on it but that there was little that they could do to stop it. Let’s get this straight, Nike: You buy the Converse company, shift production oversees where workers are abused and paid barely enough for food and lodging (less than $0.50 per hour), while maintaining the same price for the shoes to the consumer, and yet claim that you can’t do anything about the conditions? They are under contract to you – I’m pretty sure you can do something.
So, overall I’ll give it 5 stars gold stars for quality of the product and 4 “green” stars based on the social-ethical-environmental aspects of producing it. Converse was a great company but under Nike it loses a green star for poor working conditions in overseas factories. To put it into perspective (why do they only lose one star for bad conditions in some factories?), Nike are not as bad as some of the other big shoe companies, judging from available information. It looks like they are being transparent about the situation and their attempts to improve it (training managers, inspecting facilities, and revising subcontracts). Back in 2005 it became the first major apparel company to disclose factory locations and with that came some ugly stories about worker treatment, but perhaps not as ugly as the stories leaking out of more secretive companies like Adidas or Skechers. The materials used to make Chuck’s together with recycling efforts from Nike warrants a 4 star rating, to be revised based on updates on worker conditions.