Last night Converse and UNDFTD unveiled their Born Not Made collection. No stranger to collaborations, UNDFTD takes a different route this time around—the collection will be available at Foot Locker. The idea is that instead of having to go to specialty stores, sneakerheads all over the country will have access to this product. It was inspired by the idea of street style being so democratic, which is why Converse commissioned Shaniqwa Jarvis to come in and take street style-type photos.
Complex caught up with Converse Designer Matthew Sleep to get the scoop on the creative process and his thoughts on the collabo:
This isn't the first time Converse teamed up with UNDFTD, but the availability is different this time. What was the process like for designing a collection that would be available to a mass market?
The structure of this project didn't differ too much from what we've been used to in the past with the collaborative process. We've been fortunate to have built a very organic method of working between our two design camps over previous projects and this allowed for very smooth operation throughout this range. That being said, we had to be more aware of the fact that indeed we would be reaching a much larger and more diverse group of people because of the nature of the collection.
Special attention had to be paid to the material and color execution of the shoes due to this, making sure we created not only product that would resonate as individual pieces but that also worked as part of a strong and holistic collection.
Tell us about the design and the look you wanted to achieve.
It was important to us that UNDFTD's signature aesthetic was really evident throughout the product we created, whilst still remaining 'Converse' at its core. Both Converse and UNDFTD are brands who have grown from and are still very influenced by sport heritage—more specifically American sport heritage. We both felt it was a natural fit to pair this ideal with the utilitarian flavor that the UNDFTD crew brings to their design. The release sees this look being captured with a re-interpretation of a couple of our most iconic stories, mixed in with some new execution details and based around some of the first modern basketball silhouettes created—truly furthering the Converse x UNDFTD design language.
The saturated market can be quite cruel and we definitely co-sign your idea of a collection that's attainable. What were the challenges you first faced?
I would say the challenge was keeping in mind that this collection would be a much larger release than in the past, and that we weren't just focusing on a footwear piece, but an entire holistic range with apparel and accessories too. Both parties really saw the benefit in being able to provide product to a wider audience as we're aware that not everybody has easy access to everything, even in today's internet-friendly society!
Would you consider Converse as the footwear of streetwear?
Absolutely, but I think due to the nature and vast history of the brand, you can't just stop there. I consider Converse the footwear of many different facets of fashion as well as culture in general. The fantastic thing about Converse, and one of the things that first drew me to the brand, was this influence the brand has in all these different pockets of life. I grew up in London knowing Converse as a basketball brand but quickly saw how the product had infiltrated and been influential in music, art and fashion circles. Converse optimized the basis for self expression, a blank canvas for this if you will. What we refer to as "streetwear" today really is a mix of all of these different component cultures, so it is no surprise that the company's influence is still strong today.
What makes the Born Not Made collection stand apart from the competition?
I think the product says it all really! To have the individual and high level of UNDFTD's design detailing, combined with some of the best heritage product, and to be able to reach even further into both brands' ever burgeoning fan-base is a unique situation. Also, at the end of the day, what you're getting first and foremost is a well crafted item that has had a lot of love go into it and something that can be a staple in your wardrobe for many years to come.
The collection is available on March 29, in-store at Foot Locker.
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