The Converse All Stars are perhaps the most recognizable sneakers in the world. The iconic shoes have evolved from being the favorite footwear of basketball stars of yesteryear to become an explosion of creativity and fashion, even rebellion.
Converse, as they are popularly known, have been worn by pop legends like James Dean, John Lennon, Elvis Presley and Chuck Taylor. In the 1950s, early rockers and their enthusiastic followers identified with the emblematic wardrobe: white t-shirts, blue jeans, black leather jackets, and for Converse footwear. This casual look still works today after several decades and never goes out of style.
This shoe, synonymous with authenticity, has become a symbol of legitimacy in pop culture and urban fashion. The brand has long established close links with popular cultural icons in the fields of music, film, art, advertising and architecture.
Converse is the type of footwear that continues to be praised by every segment of popular society. Since its debut, in 1917, its success has been astonishing. The company began to sell its most admired product, Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, in 1921, when basketball star, Chuck Taylor, joined the company and introduced changes to the sole and the overall design of the emblematic shoe. During our times of disposable design and ever changing collections, the fact that Converse has kept a basic model for 96 years is an unprecedented feat.
Approximately 800 million pairs of All Stars have been sold worldwide, an astonishing growth that refuses to stall. Another historical paradox is that Nike, the brand made popular by Michael Jordan, which dragged Converse to basketball ostracism, ended up buying the Massachusetts label for $305 million in 2003, following the bankruptcy of the legendary business at the beginning of the new millennium.
To commemorate and honor Converse Rubber Shoe Company and celebrate almost 100 years of existence, artist Nate Lowman and Los Angeles’s famed luxury boutique Just One Eye, teamed up to create a collection of 21 pairs of Converse All Stars, based on models from the 1970s. Lowman, born in 1979, is a celebrated American artist whose graffiti work has been displayed at important art institutions, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, MoMA.
This limited edition collection is made with Italian calf leather, high gloss paint, latex and acrylic, and the shoes were assembled in Los Angeles by a team of skilled craftsmen. Each pair has the artist’s signature as well as the logo of Just One Eye.
The most interesting detail about these sneakers is that Lowman used two of his original works, made in his Tribeca studio. The artist deconstructed two pieces based on Willem de Kooning’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe to transform an athletic shoe into a work of art. From the mutilated canvases, Lowman created 21 pairs of the emblematic sneakers, which are available for sale at a price of $25,000 each. ■