I visited Shanghai in 2005 and must confess I was too impressed with the amazing buildings to notice what people were wearing on their feet. Turns out that, if I had just paid more attention, I would have noticed an abundance of Converse Chuck Taylor footwear.

These shoes were originally made in 1917 in Massachusetts and are now something of a cool item for the younger Shanghai set. In fact, in 2011, no fewer than 5 million pairs were snapped up in China. And that's ignoring the fakes.

Chuck Taylors have an interesting history. For a long time they were seen as basketball shoes. In 1962, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in one game wearing them. From the 1970s, punk rockers took a liking to them. Even Kurt Cobain was a fan. This musical association helped the Converse brand gain popularity in China, with rarer models in extremely high demand, with prices for older shoes reaching thousands of dollars.

Best you go rummage through your shoe cupboard, check out our Chinese shoe size converter, and start selling those old Converse Chuck Taylors on eBay.