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Designer Rick Owens Injects ‘Adolescent Rage’ into Converse Collab

As Vice President and known Chuck Taylor aficionado Kamala Harris took the oath of office Wednesday, supporters across the country showed their support by donning the pol’s iconic sneaker and pearls.

A day later and half the world away, Converse showed up in another unlikely place, high fashion designer Rick Owens’ Fall 2021 show in Venice.

Years after Owens introduced the DRKSHDW SS14 Ramones—a subversive reinterpretation of Converse’s classic Chuck Taylor All Star—the fashion iconoclast is reuniting with the sneaker brand in a big way.

Following the debut of the pair’s latest collaboration Thursday, Converse parent company Nike announced the two would “reimagine and re-articulate classic Converse sneakers throughout 2021.”

“When I think of Converse, I think of the black and white Chuck Taylors and the punk rock generation,” Owens said in a statement. “These have always been iconic pillars of my aesthetic. Wearing Chuck Taylors, you align yourself with a generation that was experimental. There is a confident dynamic to the subculture.”

The Thursday show gave the fashion world a first look at the Converse x Rick Owens DRKSHDW collaboration. Dubbed the Turbodark Chuck 70, the sneaker features an all-black upper, an extended tongue and, for the first time in Converse’s history, a squared-off toe.

“When I see something ubiquitous, I feel like I want to distort it,” Owens continued. “I don’t know what that’s about. Maybe it’s some kind of adolescent rage. But that’s one of the greatest appeals of the Chuck Taylor All Star.”

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Though the Rick Owens Chuck 70s take Converse into the realm of high fashion, its roots lay in basketball. This year, the sneaker brand has an assortment of releases lined up to commemorate the sport’s history.

Boston-based retailer Concepts, 130 years after James Naismith drafted the 13 original rules of basketball in Springfield, Mass., has partnered with Converse on two designs celebrating its home state’s history in hoops.

The Converse x Concepts Southern Flame All Star BB Evo and Chuck 70 reference the peach baskets that formed the original basketball goals
The Converse x Concepts Southern Flame All Star BB Evo and Chuck 70 reference the peach baskets that formed the original basketball goals. Nike

Drawing inspiration from the two peach baskets that formed Naismith’s early basketball goals, the collaboration covers the iconic Chuck 70 and the All Star BB Evo. The former channels the peach’s orange and red coloring, utilizing a platinum-suede upper to simulate the fruit’s fuzzy surface. The All Star BB Evo, on the other hand, brings in the green coloring of an unripe peach. Both shoes will debut Thursday.

Jumping forward nearly 60 years, Converse’s Breaking Down Barriers capsule celebrates the three players—Chuck Cooper, Nat Clifton and Earl Lloyd—who broke the NBA’s color barrier in 1950 and helped integrate the league. The capsule includes three Chuck Taylors connected to the players’ respective first teams—the Boston Celtics, the New York Knicks and the Washington Capitols. Each shoe replaces Chuck Taylor’s name on the heel license plate with the respective player it is celebrating.

Converse's Breaking Down Barriers capsule includes three Chuck 70s and three Converse Pro Leathers
Converse’s Breaking Down Barriers capsule includes three Chuck 70s and three Converse Pro Leathers. Nike

The Breaking Down Barriers capsule also features three Converse Pro Leathers, one celebrating Clifton in a Knicks colorway, another commemorating Cooper with a Celtics colorway and the last recognizing all three players by referencing the franchise each played for during their respective careers, the Pistons.

The capsule debuted Saturday on Converse’s website and at select House of Hoops by Foot Locker locations.

Converse’s lineup of commemorative shoes also includes a pair that celebrates the years it left and returned to professional basketball—1971 and 2019—applying a retro canvas upper to the All Star Pro BB and the modern quad axial material to the Chuck 70; and a Converse Pro Leather in the original American Basketball Association colors.