Converse’s Latest ‘Rough’ Sneakers Suggest They Should Stick to Chucks
If you thought the ugly sneaker trend of 2010 was dead, think again. It’s actually alive and kicking to increasingly ridiculous heights, as demonstrated by Converse’s latest sneaker.
Meet him Converse Sponge Crater: a surprisingly fashion-forward high-tech foam sneaker from a brand known for producing classic low-tech canvas basketball shoes, namely the iconic Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star.
The mule-cut sneaker, which launched last week, is formed from a sculpted foam body with a sock-like knit upper. it doesn’t have a traditional outsole: the foam midsole is formed with lugs on the sole of the shoe for traction. It is somewhat similar to the Yeezy Foam RNRR in appearance.
Specifically, the foam is Nike Crater Foam (Nike owns Converse), a material that was previously used for sneakers like the Nike Space Hippie. It contains Nike Grid, a recycled product made of rubber, fibers, leather and textiles, giving it a gnarly look and feel.
And it’s that gnarly look that really got us thinking.
The problem is, it doesn’t look like a Converse. It looks like a Nike, uses Nike technology, and should probably be branded as a Nike.
Specifically, we’re not big fans of its looks – and we’re not so sure about the design of the cage as a whole. Making the frame, midsole and outsole the same material might sound distinctive, but what are the implications for durability? How long will this foam and knit sneaker last?
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Converse is almost a victim of its own success. While the brand has already experimented with more modern designs (for example, in the 80s the Converse Weapon was the NBA’s go-to sneaker, with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson both rocking them), Chucks’ enduring success means that’s really all it’s known for – and its success has hampered their technical growth, both internally and in the eyes of consumers.
It’s anyone’s guess: high-tech sneakers like the Sponge Crater don’t really make sense for a brand like Converse; these are not identifiable Converse… But if Converse doesn’t experiment, they will stay in their locker and only make Chucks. It’s a catch-22.
We may not be fans of Sponge Craters, but we’re not enemies of progress. Converse has also produced more modern sneakers in collaboration with rapper and master of taste Tyler, the creator – such as the Gianno and the recently released GLF 2.0.
The inclusion of Nike technology in their sneakers is also not a bad idea in itself. Have you ever tried a pair of Chucks with a Nike Lunarlon insole? It’s like walking on air.
But you should pay us to be surprised in public with these Sponge Craters.