Enduring Icons: Jack Purcell


jack Purcell 2

There’s a comforting feeling when you wear a pair of Jack Purcell sneakers. Classic is the word that springs to mind. Timeless is another. Stylish the third. You don’t have to worry about them ever going out of favor, about them ever failing to make you look cool. They should be an essential part of every man’s wardrobe. That’s what keeps you coming back, year after year to these enduring icons. Shoes with no obsolescence. More than just a footwear choice, it’s a state of mind.

Originally introduced as an especially made badminton sneaker by its Canadian National Badminton Champion namesake Jack Purcell. These classic canvas sneakers first appeared in 1935 debuting as a purely athletic shoe, though there’s more to the story.

A Selected History of the Jack Purcell.

1873: Duke of Beaufort invites British soldiers to his house in Badminton. After drinking champagne, they played the Indian game of Poona with feather impailed corks, referring to the game thereafter as the Badminton game.

1879: Badminton Club of NY is founded and still active today, making it the world’s oldest Badminton club.

1900: Badminton first played in Canada.

1903: John Edward Purcell is born in Guelph, Ontario.

1924: Jack Purcell takes up Badminton.

1929: Jack Purcell is undefeated national singles champ. He starts writing an instructional column in Toronto’s weekly star.

1933: Jack Purcell proclaimed Badminton champion of the world, after beating the best players from Canada, England, and the USA.

1935: B.F. Goodrich develops the original Jack Purcell Badminton shoe.

1935: Jack Purcell gives private tennis lessons in Los Angeles to famous aspiring Hollywood actors and actresses.

1939: Outbreak of WWII results in shortage of Badminton equipment.

1945: Jack Purcell retires undefeated from the game and goes to work selling war bonds, becoming a member of the Toronto Stock Exchange.

1955: James Dean publicity photo shoot with him wearing Jack Purcells.

1960s: Jack Purcell sneaker marketed as first premium sneaker selling for $8.98, when other shoes sold for $5.98. Advertising campaigns ran in The New Yorker, Playboy, etc.

1972: Converse acquires Jack Purcell franchise from B.F. Goodrich.

1972: Honorary inductee to Canadian Olympic hall of fame – Badminton is not yet an Olympic sport.

1992: Badminton becomes Olympic sport.

2010: Jack Purcell celebrates its 75th Anniversary.

Over time, the Jack Purcell sneaker has come full circle and have been elevated to classic style status. It’s the utility infielder of your closet. There really aren’t many situations or outfits that you can’t wear them with. I can’t honestly even think of a situation where they wouldn’t be welcome, save perhaps dinner at 21. That a big part of the allure, the flexibility. With shorts or a suit they represent comfort and style. It’s a combination that only comes with the longevity of a classic.

[Jack Purcell available at UnionMade]



Comments on “Enduring Icons: Jack Purcell

    Matthew Pike on September 4, 2013 6:26 PM:

    I wish they were more widely available in half sizes, they run really large for me compared to the Chuck Taylors and ox. You’re right though, you don’t need to worry about, they always look just great.

    Broderick | Sartorial Exposure on September 4, 2013 6:57 PM:

    I’ve got the pearly whites but the black looks pretty cool here

    Thisishuman on September 5, 2013 11:06 AM:

    What leather shoes are those to the left of the JP’s in the first photo?

    Robert Easthope on September 5, 2013 1:57 PM:

    White leather with the black smile just great…….difficult to get in the Uk

    Shuttle & Plow on September 8, 2013 9:54 AM:

    They look great! But are they made in the U.S.?

    Aaron on September 8, 2013 12:00 PM:

    Yet ANOTHER pair of canvas shoes that isn’t available in widths. One day…

    Ted H on September 24, 2013 9:48 PM:

    2 pairs of white in rotation. You drink Champagne while you wear them too.

Comments are closed.