Hi guys. It’s Mandy. Today’s post is a little self-indulgent and if I’m honest, on the surface there’s not much that’s pretty about it. What it is is a whole lot of portraits of roughed up, dirty-from-wear, paint splattered, shredded, worn-in Chuck Taylors. People who know me know that I’m evangelical about my love for Converse. I wore a pair under my wedding dress, I have ten pairs in my cupboard (there were more, but I recently did a cull and the ones that were beyond salvation sadly had to go) and they’re my go-to shoes for just about any occasion. If I overanalyse, I think they may be a security blanket for me. Anyway, a few days ago I came across a double page spread print ad that totally spoke to me. I mean, on a gut level. I thought it was really smart and really evocative and, ironically for something that is essentially advertising designed to sell more shoes, really honest and heart felt.
The ads in question and images you see here are from the new ‘Made By You’ global brand campaign ‘celebrating fans of the brand who have been expressing themselves and their creativity in Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers for nearly 100 years’. For the Spring 2015 campaign, Converse scoured the globe to ‘collect beloved and distinctly personal Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers, each of which tells a story of transformation from blank canvas to self-portrait of their owner’. Reading this particular line, the ‘self-portrait of their owner’, is where I paused for thought. I would ordinarily roll my eyes at ad speak like this, but I really, truly get it: my mom and aunt are always light-heartedly having a go at me and expressing their horror when they see me wearing my older, dirtier, more worn-in Chucks. But as I keep telling them, they’re the sartorial equivalent of laugh lines, the holes and scuff marks are battle scars that illustrate just how much me and my Chucks have been through together, how far they’ve carried me, at work, while pregnant, at memorable functions and events, dashing through airports or down to the shops, chasing after my children in mud-soaked parks… Something like the Velveteen Rabbit, loved until they’re worn out and ragged but no less special (or comfortable) to me because of how they look.
For the campaign, Converse has drawn on musicians and artists, skaters and fashionistas, directors and creatives, the known and the unknown. Portraits of the shoes belonging to the featured personalities will be shown alongside portraits from everyday Chuck Taylor All Star wearers (pick me, pick me) and used in global exhibitions which will turn the city streets of New York to Shanghai to Rio into art galleries. According to the press release, additionally: ‘the ‘Made By You’ campaign seeks to highlight the unique creative spirit of local communities and subcultures with hyper-local portrait exhibitions celebrating the diversity of self-expression inherent in cultural neighborhoods throughout the world’.
As the release continues: ‘Made By You’ is a true celebration of creative individuals, their stories and their sneakers. Whether they are hand painted, covered in mud or worn out with holes, each Chuck Taylor All Star portrait tells a deeply personal story of the transformation from a white, black, red or navy sneaker into a remarkable piece of art. However worn, customized, modified or pristine, the portraits demonstrate the vast potential of an ultimate blank canvas.
I really look forward to seeing where the ‘Made By You’ multi-channel global campaign goes, from the streets and stores to online and in social media, including launch exhibitions in New York City, London, Beijing, and Mexico City. Fans of Chucks worldwide can also visit a host of pop-up portrait studios at Converse retail locations and events around the world to show their love for their Chucks. I’ll be first in line with my favourite, most worn-in pair – whether my mom and aunt approve or not 😉
See more at Converse