When it comes to sneaker collaborations, the Converse Chuck Taylor is one of the best models.
Not only is the sneaker a classic, but it’s clean and simple base allows any new design to truly take the spotlight. And the latest Converse collab is with LA’s UNION. Despite the clothing brand being based on the West Coast, they’ve decided to honor a New York-based interior designer Sheila Bridges who’s known for her impeccable furnishings.
Bridges currently lives in Harlem, which influenced the use of the toile — short for “toile de Jouy,” which is a repeated illustrated design that’s usually got a white background.
Like many other people of color, the design was created out of absence and a lack of representation.
“I didn’t ever see myself represented in any of the designs,” says Bridges. “So, I created my own.”
Putting her own spin on the pattern, Bridges invented the Harlem Toile as an homage to her adopted hometown, and its gotten so much recognition that the original image is kept safely at The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum’s permanent wallpaper collection. It features Black people doing everyday activities like jumping rope, playing basketball, dancing, and having picnics, with a very vintage feel as their all dressed in 18th-century garb. Now that pattern has been placed atop a pair of chucks, a hoodie, and a bucket hat.
Chris Gibbs, the owner of UNION, is happy to use the iconic shoe to tell a story as important as Bridges’.
“It’s that indelibly designed shoe,” says Gibbs. “It’s that cool shoe. It’s the perfect canvas for intricate stories via print graphics.”
The collection drops October 13 at converse.com and select retailers.
Get a better look at the kicks, hoodie, and hat in the gallery below.