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Converse Is Ready to Rebound After a Streak of Struggles

Converse has experienced its share of struggles over the past two years — particularly in 2016 when canvas footwear trends lost favor among retro-hungry teens — but industry insiders think the brand can bounce back.

Sales for the label dipped more than 20 percent stateside in August, according to senior sports industry advisor Matt Powell of The NPD Group Inc. Also last month, a report from data and analytics firm Engagement Labs stated Converse fell 18 percent in terms of teens that said they talked about the brand each day.

And to end 2017, the brand reported a Q4 sales decline of 14 percent year-over-year.

But a rebound is possible, and Powell believes it starts with becoming less reliant the Chuck Taylor.

“I think there are alternatives to it now. I don’t know if people are bored with that shoe, but there certainly are a lot of great alternatives that are new and fresh,” he explained. “When their core product hasn’t changed, I think it puts them at a competitive disadvantage.”

And Ankur Amin, CEO of TGS (the parent company of Extra Butter, Rise, Rooted and Renarts), thinks Converse could benefit from becoming a four-season brand.

“They’re right behind Vans as a quintessential summer brand. And the Chucks has a summer shoe, as a beater, are right next to those Vans classic models,” Amin said. “They’re relevant in the summer. But in the other months, other things are important.”

Amin, who said Converse has performed well in his Extra Butter banner as of late, wants to see the brand release more collaborations. The storeowner said the ones released in recent months have been “impactful.”

And it appears the brand is delivering on what he wants.

This month alone, the brand has released a project with work apparel brand Carhartt using the One Star silhouette, a lineup of reimagined Chuck 70s with Undercover designer Jun Takahashi, a pack with legendary band Suicidal Tendencies, and teased an upcoming line of remixed basketball kicks with Don C.

Despite its recent wave of struggles, Converse’s sales bounced back to start the fiscal year. Nike’s latest earnings report, for Q1, showed the brand’s revenues advanced 7 percent year-over-year to $527 million — during the all-important back-to-school period, signaling that momentum could be picking up again among young customers.

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