Think rabid fans of late author Hunter S. Thompson and knee-jerk bloggers are hyperventilating over Converse’s use of his image in their ad campaign? Wait until they find out Thompson’s estate started talking with the shoe company shortly after the gonzo writer fatally shot himself in 2005 about an HST edition Chuck Taylor low-top.
Thompson was hardly a fashion icon, and by no means a clotheshorse. He did, however, have a look: aviator sunglasses, the occasional Hawaiian shirt, cigarette holder fitted with a smoldering Dunhill, and a Tilley hat crushed down upon his near-bald pate (with a convenient secret stash compartment under the crown)-and white, Chuck Taylor All-Star low-cut sneakers by Converse.
“Since he bought his first pair in the early 1960s in San Francisco he has worn them every day of his life,” the author’s widow Anita Thompson tells Radar. “There are still over 70 pairs of them at the house.”
That hasn’t stopped some from crying “sellout.” And it’s tough to tell whether Hunter himself would have approved of the endorsement. He was never against making a fast buck. He always loved schemes, but was always generous and never greedy. In the 1970s, he had no problem posing for Levi photo ads. In 1999, when I convinced Porsche to loan him a new car to test drive for a review in the San Francisco Examiner Magazine, he got slapped for shilling. And he could’ve given a fuck. He thanked me. We talked on the phone for years afterward.