Pop culture geeks rejoice: 105-year-old sneaker maker Converse is teaming up with The Simpsons for a shoe collection inspired by characters from the long-running (it’s in its 25th season!) animated TV show.
The Simpsons Chuck Taylor All Star Collection, available at Journeys and Converse and retailing for $37 to $65, offers both adult and kids’ sneakers that feature custom graphics of the family we’ve all come to know and tolerate (and love). The men’s sneaker has Homer exclaiming “D’oh!” on one side of the shoe, and “Woo-hoo!” on the other, representing the full range of the character’s moods. The Bart sneaker has Bart writing, “I will not waste chalk” on the Springfield Elementary School chalkboard. And lest you think they forgot Marge, Lisa, and Maggie—there’s a sneaker depicting the entire family, dominated by Marge’s beehive.
The Simpsons sneakers are not Converse’s first high-profile collaboration. First stitched outside of Boston in 1908 as a basketball shoe, the brand’s basic design has stayed remarkably similar throughout the years—but like a chameleon, it has changed its skin in countless ways, donning everything from Superman comics to leopard print on its canvas. From couture designers to musicians, it seems that everyone has tried their hand at creating their own Converse. This is partly thanks to Converse’s parent company, Nike, who in 2003 bailed out the iconic Chuck Taylors after an economic slump, buying the company for $305 million (and boosting its international sales), much to the chagrin of many of its rebellious wearers.
Glamming up the alterna-kid shoe proved no problem for designers like the avant-garde Comme des Garçons, who on May 28 launched its third Converse collaboration, after the first two nabbed rave reviews. Street-wear styles from the Comme des Garçons PLAY line translated to the sneakers, with its signature, quirky heart-with-eyes logo decorating Converse leather. Equally playful are Marimekko’s creations for Converse: The Finnish textile company, which made a splash in the 1960s with its bright flower prints, launched its second Chucks collaboration in April, infusing the sneakers with bright colors, polka dots and even strawberry patterns.
Missoni, too, put its unique stamp on the company: For seven seasons now, they have been re-interpreting their zig-zag knits for the Converse audience. And in 2011, Riccardo Tisci’s take on Chuck Taylors floored fashionistas: The high-gloss, black-on-black creation included the signature Givenchy leopard print which had recently hit runways, complete with studs and crosses. The limited-edition high-tops retailed for $347 and were only available in Japan—though everyone else can now find them on eBay for $599, plus $39.99 shipping and handling.
And of course, rock ‘n’ roll-loving multiple-CFDA award winner John Varvatos has been creating high-end shoes for Converse since 2001, reinterpreting the sneaker with leather, studs and denim.
But despite its various international collaborators, Converse is a Boston-bred brand, and as such, is currently doing its part to help the victims of the April 15 bombings by selling a limited-edition sneaker with the Boston skyline, donating the proceeds to The One Fund Boston.