Constantly changing to stay the same

I love Converse.  Back in the 90s I worked on the account and got to know a great deal about its authentic roots. 

The company was founded in the early years of the 20th century making winterised rubber shoes originally and then athletic shoes.  In 1921 the basketball player Chuck Taylor joined the organisation to endorse and sell the product.  He literally lived out of his car touring the country selling the Chuck Taylor All Star shoe.

The company has undergone much evolution since then, and is now owned by Nike.  Distribution is great, teenagers are still wearing them, as are all cool adults.

When I worked on the account they employed a whole set of trend spotters led by the fabulous Jane Rinzler Buckingham (still spotting trends at @Jane_Buckingham), and author of The Modern Girls Guide to Sticky Situations (available here

Of course as a fashion brand Converse had to keep updating to stay relevant.

Apparently so too must funeral directors. 

The excellent book “Londoners” by Craig Taylor (–As-Those/dp/0062005855/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1331034375&sr=1-1) contains an interview with John Harris, a funeral director in Canning Town.  Harris talks about how the family business has evolved since his great-grandfather started it and how it’s a quantum leap from when he started personally in the business 37 years ago.  They now cater for many different ethnic communities and their individual religious customs.  He has evolved the business to be flexible for the Chinese, Filipino, Ghanaian and Eastern European customers that come through his doors.  Pragmatically he says “We put a different god up on the wall for whoever’s coming”.

From funerals to hi-tops you must constantly change to stay the same. 

As Steve Gladdis remarked to me the other day – “ Its Trigger’s broom “.  Trigger from Only Fools and Horses has had the same broom for 20 years.  He’s looked after it.  And although it has had 17 new heads and 14 new handles it’s the same authentic broom. 

Plus ça change….

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