The Rick Owens Converse square toe sneakers collaboration caps 100 years of Converse history
Few footwear styles remain largely unchanged over time. Fashion is built around newness, novelty, and an inherent churn of concepts and looks. The Converse Chuck Taylor is an exception, enjoying worldwide popularity with little aesthetic evolution over its century-long history.
The latest Rick Owens Converse collaboration is the next chapter in its story—and cements the shoe as an iconic part of fashion history.
Rick Owens and Converse Sneakers Collaboration
Slated for release in Fall 2021, Rick Owens showed the “TURBODRK” Chuck 70 square toe trainers during his runway show in Venice in late January. It was the first time ever that the canvas and rubber shoe had been shown with a square toe, a design twist that is 100% Rick.
Other Rick Owens original shoe concepts include similar exaggerations and quirks: the Geobasket sneakers are based on traditional basketball high-tops, but have an oversized leather tongue and vamp, and this season are rendered in recycled vinyl. The Megalaced Runner is a low-top athletic sneaker covered in excess lacing, for a spiderweb effect.
It was only natural that the Rick Owens Converse collab would fall under the DRKSHDW sub-label, a sort of streetwear spinoff of the main line’s signature dark and drapey luxury. Other DRKSHDW sneakers are already similar in style to Converse Chuck Taylors, and are some of our best selling styles. More info on DRKSHDW.
If you follow fashion, the name Rick Owens should be familiar. He’s arguably the inventor of modern, luxurious grunge, inspiring a generation of young designers with the same appreciation for dark elegance, a limited color palette, and luxury loungewear. Those include Thom Krom and Boris Bidjan Saberi.
Since 1994, his namesake label has established a new school of thought—one that has been called “approachable avant garde.” It relies on precision tailoring, superior fabrics, drapery across the body, and a level of comfort that has earned the designer a fiercely loyal following and devoted cult status.
Today, the Rick universe is broad: complete collections for women and men, sub-collections under the DRKSHDW name for both women and men, and Rick Owens sneakers collaborations with the likes of Veja and Moncler.
How the Converse Chuck Evolved
Nearly 100 years ago, when automobiles were a new and exciting technology, Converse developed its now-iconic shoe with the help of basketball player Chuck Taylor. For decades, Chuck Taylor All Stars were the go-to athletic shoe for amateurs and professional athletes alike, dominating the athletic shoe market.
In the 1970s and 1980s, as competition from other labels like Nike and Adidas began to pick off sports-driven sales, the Converse Chuck 70 sneakers became more closely associated with casual wear. Their retro look appealed to everyday wearers, musicians, and those leading the grunge movement like rocker Kurt Cobain.
In 2003, Converse was acquired by Nike, which still markets and sells the largely unchanged Chuck Taylor sneakers in a kaleidoscope of colors and through design collaborations with trending names like Telfar Clemens and Comme des Garçons PLAY.
Designers and Brands Creating Outside of the Box
Rick Owens isn’t the only brand that blends well with the black-and-white, canvas-and-rubber look of classic Converse, and hardly the only label trying to reinvent familiar shapes.
Maison Margiela, Balenciaga, and Bottega Veneta all have recently revamped their footwear offerings, leaning on exaggerated details, retro references, and innovative materials like eco-leather, knit fabric, and raffia. Read more about Margiela’s famous Tabi-toe shoes.
For Spring-Summer ’21, Heron Preston is giving us home improvement luxury with heels made from bubble levels and bolts (below). Prada recently debuted pointed-toe canvas and rubber sneakers (below), broadly based on the classic Converse style, only with a stiletto-like pointed toe and of course, made in Italy.
Many luxury brands have already begun collaborating more regularly with non-luxury labels, as a sort of bridge between the high and low ends of the price spectrum. Late in 2020, Maison Margiela kicked off a multi-season collaboration with Reebok, and Stella McCartney continues to collaborate with Adidas on various projects and capsule collections.
Expect to see the Rick Owens Converse square toe sneakers collection on italist very soon!
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