The Jack Purcell smile has shone on tennis since 1935. One of the first shoes popular in the sport, the B.F. Goodrich Company of Canada originally created the sneaker for Purcell, a champion badminton player. Tennis players commandeered the silhouette and Converse bought the rights to the shoe in 1970. This November, the Jack Purcell sneaker-the smile-gets a modern take.
This past spring Converse launched an effort to work with parent company Nike on creating a Modern line of its most famous sneakers, starting with the release of the All Star Modern and moving on to the Auckland and Thunderbolt. The Jack Purcell marks the fourth sneaker from the Boston-based brand to get the makeover.
“The Converse Jack Purcell Modern is a new take on one of our most iconic silhouettes,” says Bryan Cioffi, vice president and creative director of Converse Global Footwear. “It deftly combines our rich court heritage with a sleek modern design-giving our consumers more of what they want.”
The line has enjoyed a resurgence as a lifestyle sneaker in recent years, with Converse pulling out a variety of colorways and materials with the original design. In August, Converse launched the “coated terry” design, pairing the style of the Purcell signature with a Japanese loop terry upper-available in a dark blue and “sulfur” green-in a herringbone pattern that includes a water-repellent TPU layer to keep the sneaker dry and comfortable, and Nike Zoom Air and an OrthoLite sockliner for underfoot cushioning.
The Modern, which launched on Nov. 2, uses premium full-grain leather as the key distinguisher, creating a contemporary style. Coming in all-white or black, the new models offer a simplistic take on the 1935 original, even keeping the famed “smile” mark on the toecap in monotone colors.
With the classic designs still available and now paired with leather uppers, the brand-new coated terry and Modern versions, Converse has revived and expanded one of history’s richest tennis silhouettes. And they do it all with the Jack Purcell smile.
Tim Newcomb covers sneakers for Tennis Magazine and tennis.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.