Old School Meets New Tech in New York
On Sunday, I flew across the Atlantic to New York for the first time to go and check out the latest offering from Converse; the All Star Modern. Usually, when a new product is being launched, it isn’t all that ‘new’ – leaks are commonplace in the sneaker world, and images of kicks usually bounce around the internet for months before they release. Somehow, Converse managed to keep this drop firmly under wraps, so I had no clue what I was going to see.
The one thing I had managed to scoop before I left was that this marked the start of an open relationship (no, not that kind) between Converse and Nike. For those that don’t know, Converse is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nike. For most members of The Basement, this will come as less of a surprise – as a community, The Basement is up on this kind of shit, and if you asked me what sneaker silhouette epitomised The Basement, it would be the Chuck Taylor All Star. Still, even knowing this, I had no idea what was in store.
My first night in New York definitely set the scene for what Converse had to offer. After having a slap up meal, I linked up with my boy and fellow Basement brother Milo for a night I would never forget.
First stop was a spot called Never Never. We hit the door and I have to say I wasn’t hopeful I would get in, especially not in full tracksuit. But Milo the plug hollered his boy Tremaine who came out and ushered us in. Next thing I know, I’m in small club vibing with Virgil Abloh, Theophilius London, Luka Sabbat and a couple of other dons.
Half an hour later, I’m hit with news of Kanye West doing an impromptu performance at Webster Hall. Bang, out the club, into a yellow taxi and over we go. The scenes when we arrived were outrageous. Thousands of kids all over the street outside, the odd police car being lost in the crowd were it no for the flashing lights. ASAP Rocky turned up and made his way through the crowd with his entourage, but didn’t get in. When Rocky ain’t getting in, you know you’re not either.
Bang, another cab ride and into a club called 1Oak with the clique we were with. When we arrived, we made our way straight over to a private corner. The rest is a blur to be quite honest. I remember ASAP Ferg doing an impromptu set, and I remember necking champagne from the bottle at 5am, but only because I have pictures of it and put some of it on Snapchat. The next thing I recall, the phone in my room is ringing because I am late to start the day Converse has laid on for us. Quick change of clothes (yes, I woke up fully dressed on top of my bed) and out the door.
Could what Converse had in store for me be as lit as the night before? They had a lot to live up to, but didn’t disappoint.
After jumping in the waiting Escalade, bleary eyed and feeling like trash, I headed to the venue for the launch. First up was a Converse retrospective, showcasing the brand’s output since inception. Considering some of the kicks were almost 100 years old, they were in pretty good condition.
After taking in the classics, we headed downstairs to check out the updated offerings.
Hanging from the ceiling and curated in a way that wouldn’t have looked out of place at the MoMA, the Converse All Star Modern was exactly what the name would suggest. Staying pretty true to the original silhouette, the new shoe clearly utilised Nike’s technological prowess. Created using circular knit uppers and innovative features including Nike Hyperfuse, a contoured full-length Phylon outsole, a TPU-fused overlaid toecap, plus a neoprene split tongue and lining, this is the update some will have been crying out for.
Although nothing will ever come close to the All Star, one criticism that can be made of them is that they are not entirely practical for a hectic lifestyle on the go. Wear them for days constantly on your feet, and you will feel the burn. Not with the All Star Modern. These kicks are incredibly comfortable as well as aesthetically pleasing.
As well as the in-line version, we were treated to a glimpse of the Converse All Star Modern HTM. Designed by the creative team consisting of Hiroshi Fujiwara, Tinker Hatfield and Mark Parker, the sleek exterior of the All Star Modern HTM further elevates the now legendary profile of the 1920 All Star with a modern, contemporary aesthetic, complete with a premium and flexible goat leather upper, and neatly finished with a debossed All Star ankle patch and HTM logo on the heel pull tab. This pair represents a big shift for Nike, being that they are the first product HTM have worked on outside of that bearing the Swoosh, and will be the first such product available at NikeLab locations. Whether this marks the start of a wholesale shift for the Nike brand remains to be seen, but it is a big step.
The HTM version goes on sale today for £145 via NikeLab locations and via their online store.
The in-line version will be hitting selected retailers on June 16th and will also be available via the Converse online store.