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The Converse Chuck Taylor is one of the most iconic shoes of all time, but there are actually several different shoes walking around claiming to be the true Chuck Taylor. They’re all made by Converse, of course, but they’re built slightly differently, and they’re priced differently, too. So who wins in the battle of Chuck vs Chuck? And most importantly, are the more expensive iterations worth it?
What Is the Chuck 70?
JW Anderson, Tyler, The Creator, Commes De Garcons, Off-White and tons of other designers have all put their spin on the Chuck Taylor. But it’s not actually the Chuck Taylor All-Star that designers put their stamp on. Instead, they invariably go for the Chuck 70, a sneaker that’s priced $25 higher at full retail compared with the $60 All-Star.
The Chuck 70 was launched less than a decade ago, and it takes its design cues from the archive. You could say that this isn’t your father’s Chuck Taylor, but actually, it probably is. That’s because the shoe is built the same way it was made in the 1960s and 1970s.
Judging by the frequency of Chuck 70 collabs, the silhouette has proven to be a rousing success. This is in contrast to the Chuck II, a style that was announced with much fanfare and intended as a modern update on the iconic sneaker. The Chuck II was made using Nike Lunarlon soles and was supposed to be more comfortable and supportive. It failed to gain traction and quietly went away a few years ago.
Despite its iconic status, the Chuck Taylor has clearly gone through many different iterations to land where it is today. Since its lineage is in the 70s, the Chuck 70 is arguably the more “classic” shoe compared to the modern version. But since the $60 high top is the main version available today, and the one most casual consumers are familiar with, we’ll call that one “classic” or “traditional,” just to differentiate it from the Chuck 70. So between the Chuck 70 vs classic Converse, which shoe is worth it?
More Premium, or Just More Expensive?
As a lifelong Chuck Taylor wearer, I was a little skeptical of the higher-priced Chuck 70. But having since owned a pair of black low-tops, it’s plainly apparent that the Chuck 70 is simply a better-built shoe. Every single detail, from the laces and the lining to the soles, has gotten a substantial upgrade. Of course, whether or not the upgrades warrant the price is up to you. But here are some of the differences between the shoes, both inside and out, to help you decide which is best for you.
Chuck 70s vs Classic All-Stars: The Outside
Most of the upgrades are in the finer details like the inner canvas, but there are a few visual cues to help you set the Chuck 70 apart from its more economical counterpart. For one thing, the Chuck 70 is noticeably taller than the classic All-Star, owing to a thicker midsole. The rubber toe cap and sidewall have a shiny finish, compared to the matte look of the All-Star. The rubber on the ’70s is also more of a cream color, compared to the bright white of the classic.
The best way to tell the two apart is to look at the stitching, which is especially noticeable on the black shoes. The upper of the shoe has contrast stitching that extends from the toe cap in a downward swoop toward the outsole, sort of like a pair of wingtip dress shoes. The classic has a white logo tab on the heel, while the Chuck 70 has a black logo tab. In addition, the toe cap of the Chuck 70s is a slightly different shape than the classic All-Stars; it’s slightly smaller proportionally compared with the classic All-Star’s toe cap. When you compare them up close, the laces and eyelets feel thicker and more high quality on the Chuck 70s vs the classic Converse.
Chuck 70s vs Classic All-Stars: The Inside
When you slip on a pair of Chuck 70s, you’ll notice that the shoe feels quite different from the classic All-Star. The canvas is substantially thicker, resulting in a closer fit that’s more structured, compared with the flexible classic version. The thin canvas of the classic version feels almost like a soft shirt, while the cotton fabric of the Chuck 70 is more of a true canvas, similar to a duck canvas you’d find on a high-quality bag. This thicker canvas holds up against ripping and tearing much better than the standard version.
The added height of the Chuck 70 makes for a more stable shoe, while the shiny rubber sidewall and toe cap are more low-maintenance. The glossy sheen resists scuffs and smudges surprisingly well. The Chuck 70 is slightly more supportive, although the Chuck 70 won’t make converts of anyone who finds Converse to be uncomfortably flat. And despite the shoe’s upgrades, the Chuck 70 is still not impervious to wear and tear; the inner canvas lining on the heels and around the toes of my sneakers have started to wear down and rip. The outside, however, still looks relatively fresh, even though I almost never clean the toe caps or sidewalls.
As for sizing, both shoes run a half size large, and I would stick to the same size for both. I’m a 10.5 in Adidas and wear 10 in Converse. If you’re used to the fit of Nikes, you might end up going a full size down. The Chuck 70 feels slightly narrower than the regular, though this is probably on account of the structured fit.
Advantages of the Chuck 70
There are plenty of low-end knockoffs of Converse, but there are a surprisingly large number of high-end ones, too. Brands like Visvim, Dior, and Rick Owens have all made shoes that are similar to Converse. Whether that’s an homage or a rip-off is for you to judge. But the best premium, high-end Chuck Taylors are made by Converse itself. The Chuck 70 is the high-end version that this classic silhouette deserves, and that’s why it’s no surprise that so many designers have chosen to remix this silhouette in particular (including Mr. Owens himself).
All of the details of the Chuck 70 make for a shoe that’s clearly not just a dressed-up version of the classic. Rather, Converse has taken a well-known and well-loved shoe and rebuilt it from the ground up to be a sturdier, longer-lasting shoe. Sure, the shiny sidewall and toe cap look good, but they also resist scuffs much better than the classic, which is notoriously smudge-prone. The extra stitching on the side isn’t just for show, either; it helps reinforce one of the most common stress points on All-Stars. Where the canvas on my normal Chucks would have started pulling apart by now near the pinky toe, the canvas on my Chuck 70s is still firmly in place. When it comes to style, the high-gloss off-white rubber and black logo patch arguably looks more stylish than the muted, matte All-Stars.
Advantages of the Classic Chuck
While the Chuck 70 is a more substantial shoe, the main Converse Chuck Taylor does have some advantages over the Chuck 70. At full retail, the Chuck Taylor high top is $60, while the Chuck 70 is $85. Likewise, the low top is $55, compared with the 70s’ $80 price-point. And since it can be frequently found at a discount, the already affordable All-Star is even more of an affordable option.
Price isn’t the only category that the mainline Chuck Taylor has an edge in. The classic Chuck Taylor is easier to find in more colors than the Chuck 70, and the wide variety of colors has always been one of the major appeals of Converse. Even though the Chuck 70 is more structured, the classic Chuck is a more comfortable shoe, at least in my view. Because the canvas is thinner and the shoe is less structured, it breaks in and molds to your foot much more quickly than the Chuck 70. Plus, the Chuck 70 feels slightly narrower across the width. If you’re walking around all day, the classic Chuck will arguably be the more comfortable choice, even though the Chuck 70 is more supportive. The classic Converse feels like you’re wearing a sneaker, while the Chuck 70 feels like you’re wearing a shoe. Ultimately, the added heft of the Chuck 70 comes at the cost of softness and lightness.
There’s also an almost philosophical argument to be made in favor of the classic All-Star Chuck Taylor vs the Chuck 70. Part of the appeal of the Chuck Taylor is something the Ramones understood well. Just like their other wardrobe staples, moto jackets and jeans, Chucks are meant to be lived in and beat up. Arguably, the scuffs and tears add to the appeal of a pair of Converse. Sure, the added durability of the Chuck 70 is nice, but it makes them that much harder to wear in and beat up.
Is The Chuck 70 Worth It?
Tacking $25 onto a $60 shoe is a pretty substantial price jump. But Converse has carefully replicated not just the look but the build quality of the Converse from the 1970s, resulting in a shoe that’s sturdier and more stylish. If you don’t like that the toe caps scuff so quickly and that the side of the shoe starts to split, then you’ll appreciate the upgraded toe-cap and reinforced stitching of the Chuck 70. Is it worth it? 25 bucks is a big difference, but considering that every facet of the shoe has been given an upgrade, it truly does feel like a shoe that’s roughly 40% better. That said, if you prefer a shoe that’s softer and more comfortable out of the box, then the classic All-Star has the edge, and the classic is easier to find at a discount and in more colors.
Ultimately, the answer depends on what you’re looking for, but there’s no reason not to have both shoes in your rotation. They’re both classic, and that’s not going to change any time soon. Check out some more styles of the Chuck 70 and classic Chuck below.
Converse Chuck 70 Low Top
Can’t decide between black and white? Split the difference and get it in grey.
Converse Chuck Taylor Low Top
It is easy being green.
Converse Chuck Taylor 70 High Top
This aptly named “sunflower” color will bring a touch of summer to any fit.
Converse Chuck Taylor High Top
You can’t go wrong with the classic in classic white. Buy it, wear it into the ground, and get a new pair.
Rick Owens Drkshdw Converse Blkstr
Politely, Rick Owens freaked it.
Comme Des Garcons Play Converse
Show a little love.