The knit-on-a-shoe 2012 movement had its most traditional moment with the Converse and Missoni project.
Debuting on the catwalk, retailing in super limited numbers at Colette in a variety of archive Missoni patterns, then finally reaching select store shelves globally in this copper threaded makeup, the Auckland Racer was a more offbeat chapter in the ongoing Missoni and Converse partnership. We won't pretend we ever had much interest in this running silhouette until it had a one-piece welded look a few years back, but it's the definitive vessel for a famed fabric. To do a collaboration right, you don't need to festoon an item in excessive details, but you do need to reflect the best of both partners and this hits the sweet spot between a traditional sports shoe, age-old craftsmanship, accessibility and weirdness, resulting in an object that seems strangely progressive. Just like Vans' Vault line, Converse's First String wing has been putting out some killer product this year (that Reigning Champ All Star Low for instance, was a perfect shoe), keeping the quality SMUs and experimentation flowing, but crucially, getting the packaging right too. We caught up with Global Head of Converse First String, Mikkel Aas, to talk about the Missoni project's genesis...
Mikkel, how did the relationship with Missoni and Converse begin?
The relationship really began out of a mutual respect and a common heritage and passion for craftsmanship. Our collaborative journey has been organic from the very beginning, and the fantastic response we received from the first shoes precipitated into the multi-season offering you've seen up until today.
Has this collection been beneficial for the Auckland Racer? Converse has the running heritage but basketball and badminton silhouettes seem to be what the brand's famous for…
The Auckland Racer is a fantastic sneaker, very simple in design, whilst embodying the classic Converse DNA in its aesthetic. The partnership with Missoni gave us a unique opportunity to bring the Auckland Racer back from our archives and let everyone know that not only do we do running, but we do it in our own Converse way — being a 'blank canvas' for our creative expression. With a partner in Missoni, it made perfect sense to reinterpret the sneaker in an elevated way, leveraging their rich arsenal of textiles onto one of our most iconic running silhouettes.
The packaging's pretty special too — is that something both partners insisted on?
It was very important to both parties that the entire presentation of the product had as much love and attention in it as possible. We were fortunate enough to be able to customize our Converse premium boxes to include the signature Missoni 'Auburn' colours along with their iconic logo. Ultimately, our aim was for our consumer to be able to feel the premium expression all the way from the product creation to the packaging.
How long did the project take to turn around from start to the catwalk last year? Is making the shoes for the show and making production editions in terms of quality control?
Missoni's timelines work differently to ours so in order to be able to react to special situations such as the catwalk shows we have to be very nimble with our turn around whilst keeping as much attention to detail on the quality of the product as possible.
Who selected the patterns for this project?
The selection process is a mutual agreement between the Missoni and Converse design teams. Missoni will provide initial suggestions based on what they're creating within their seasonal product lines. We then collaborate on what textiles we think work on which silhouettes for the season and go from there. For this particular project, we had initially made a very small amount of a blue version of the fabric, also on the Auckland Racer, on the catwalk the season before which had had a great reaction. Missoni had then created a black version the season after (which we loved) so we collectively decided this was the perfect way to commercialize the Auckland project.
Is there any specific element that makes a Converse project First String?
First and foremost we aim to be the ultimate expression of craft and product detailing within the Converse family. That encompasses everything from working with the best collaborators in their respective fields, to simply making the best looking shoes possible! The First String approach has always been one that is born out of a passion for product, utilizing our various design and industry backgrounds to make the product we produce as compelling as possible.