Like most of your belongings, Converse, or "Chucks" to loyal followers, are made in China, Vietnam and other inexpensive labor markets in lands far, far away. Converse sneakers'popularity haven't waned in the several decades since their inception, and there are a few diehards who collect the classic shoes that were once upon a time made in right here in the USA.
Everyone from Rihanna to Victoria Beckham's style-icon-in-training daughter, Harper, seems to own at least one pair of the canvas and rubber sneaks that retail for around $50. But a shiny new pair of kicks -- at least in this case -- seem to be losing in the battle against beat-up, old, grimey shoes that have heavy mileage on them. Of course, referring to them as "vintage" instead of "used" gives them an immediate sense of value and validation and makes them instantly and effortlessly cool, right?
My friend Lily trolls flea markets and vintage stores in search of original "Made in USA" Cons. She's got her craft down to a tee and bargains them down to about $15 at the Rose Bowl, and then she turns around and sells them on eBay for a couple hundred bucks. Of course, she starts her flea market mornings at the crack of dawn in order to have first dibs and she has the location of her vendors memorized. She peruses pair after pair of filthy shoes looking for a stamp on the inner sole that says "Made in USA" and she rarely leaves empty-handed. You know a trend has caught on when stores like LA's Fred Segal have started carrying stinky kicks that other people have stuffed their toesies into. That, or there's been an extreme rise in foot fetishes, particularly with tennis shoes.
Why jump for the used version of something that's readily available brand new? Lily says, "The quality of the old ones are better, even if they're ripped or torn." Her collection is proof that she doesn't mind a little wear and tear and in fact prefers the distressed look. Some of her sneakers have writing on them -- phone numbers even! When she finds them in her size, she keeps them for herself because the smaller sizes sell better anyway. So who's dropping serious coin on Converse? Lily says, "The Japanese love them. They're obsessed and they'll pay a ton to get their hands on them."
Here's a peek at some of Lily's favorite flea market kicks.