Presenting Aysha Nanai-Leifi aka POLYPRINCE$$

We speak to Converse_x_ Melbourne rep, climate activist and founder/Muva of 'Poly Connection'

27 November 2019



Aysha Nanai-Leifi 


Location:Melbourne, Australia


Tell us a little on how your journey with Converse_x_ began? You mentioned you were lucky enough to attend the previous experience in Malaysia earlier this year. How did you feel when you were announced to join the community for a second time in LA? Have you been here before?

My journey with Converse_x_ began over a year ago in July 2018. Initially they sent me a DM from the @converse_anz account, saying something like "hey, we love your style” and “would you want to come to an event?" At first, I thought it was fake, because I had never collaborated with any type of brand, let alone such a global brand like Converse. It confused me why they would message me. But I replied, went to the first event and from there, everything came to fruition, the campaigns, the overseas trips… all of It. I was so surprised when they asked me to join them on a second global experience in LA… I knew that only five months earlier they had taken me to Malaysia, so I wasn't expecting to go for a second time, but I'm so grateful they did. When I got the message that I would be going I cried so hard… like it’s LA! That’s a big freaking deal. And it was everything I thought it would be. I met the best people from all over the world, I have so much gratitude for everything Converse_x_ has ever given me. This was my second time in LA, my first time was when I was 19, in July 2017.


Were there any positive differences between the two experiences? Some would say KL and LA are far from similar?

The positive differences were that on this LA trip there were more people, from more countries… And that we got to go to a festival as well. KL had less people but meant that it was a more intimate. KL was also a lot faster paced compared to the more chilled out LA schedule, both styles I could adapt to easily. Also being two completely different cultures and national languages and weathers, there were so many variables that made the two very different, but I loved each experience so hard. 


During the week, you connected with your Converse_x_ peers from all over the world. The coolest community from Australia, NZ, Vietnam, Russia, Poland and Chile, to name a few. What are your favorite things about the Converse_x_ family and how do you feel going home after making such amazing connections? 

My favorite thing about the Converse_x_ family are the connections made between people from completely opposite sides of the world, that in the everyday world I would never have the chance to cross paths with. I think the chemistry and love created on this trip shows that people can connect without even speaking the same language, but rather use forms of creativity to connect and communicate. These kinds of connections are completely natural and full of love, so leaving at the week and going back to our separate lives, in separate cities is tough. But it also gives me a bittersweet happiness knowing that I've given them a piece of my world to take back with them, and they've given me theirs, which I will use to drive my everyday work and projects I plan to work on in the future.


During the week, we visited Tyler the Creators LA based store, GOLF for the exclusive drop of the latest Converse GOLF le FLUER* Gianno sneaker. In store, Converse were very generous and gifted the X crew a fresh pair of this kick ass sneaker (the first people in the world to own them). What do you like about this latest Collab?

What I love about the new GIANNO’s is the fact that it’s a completely new silhouette, never made before by Converse. It's very true to Tyler's style to create something out of nothing. I love the Dad shoe vibe a lot and the fact that it gives you a little bit of height, helps me to see over crowds. They're just a dope shoe that I (for my taste) will pretty much wear with everything. 


Sustainability is one of the planets hot topics. In LA, we were given insight into how Converse is reducing the carbon footprint but still managing to produce both a stylish and quality product. As someone in the younger generation, how do you feel about the current climate and when world leaders chose to ignore it?

Climate conversation is something I’m very passionate about being a woman of the Pacific Islands. We are one of the communities on the frontlines feeling the effects of Climate Change first and worst. I think climate activism is something that is done within your everyday lifestyle, whether it’s changing your diet, changing your energy companies and in this case, it’s being more conscious of the fashion you’re consuming and how it affects the planet. I think as the generation that will live with the consequences of the irreversible damage done to the planet, we are the loudest and most passionate about this issue. The best thing we can do is to have our voice, take action and hope that world leaders will follow suit.


On the 3rdday in LA, we attended a workshop focusing on Converse and Sustainability. Something that fascinated me was learning of how Converse work alongside a company that creates paint that cleans the air. One square metre of paint is equivalent the one tree. What are your thoughts on this? I had no idea it existed.

I am freaking loved that paint and everything about it. It’s so cool seeing the connection between art and climate. I think every single artist and painter should be using it. It’s a no brainer.


The main theme of the LA Converse_x_ experience was self-expression and its link to fashion and sustainability. What does self-expression mean to you and how is it portrayed in what you do and your style?

Self-expression to me is just being yourself, not conforming and believing in your ideas regardless of the ‘nay sayers’. My style is whatever I’m feeling in the moment. I mostly take inspiration from my friends around me and try to stay true to myself in all situations and never fold when I want something. 


This week, you experienced Camp Flog Gnaw as a VIP. Who were your favourite performers and why? You even got the full experience right amongst the CFG mosh!

My favourite performers were Daniel Caesar, Summer Walker, Brockhampton and YG. I was in the mosh for something like three hours. I missed Brockhampton when they came to Melbourne, so I knew I had to be in the mosh for them and it was the best decision ever. They were insane and I loved every second. YG performed after and he was crazy lit. Bop after bop, the whole energy was insane. I’m so happy I stayed for as long as I did. I completely destroyed my Gianno’s in that mosh pit but the experience was worth it and I can clean them up later.


Lastly, where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I can’t really speak that far into the future, that’s a long way away for me. But in the next year I hope I’ve achieved most of the goals I’ve set for 2020 like launch my own magazine, start a podcast and a few other goals along that path. So many things can come to fruition after these goals are achieved and maybe within a few years I will move to London or NYC. I want to get steady creative work and be able to make a living from what I love to do. I want to have put everything, I possibly can into PolyConnection, a community builder for Pasifika people and aim to see more representation for us, through this platform. Overall, I just want to be happy and know I’ve made my family proud. 


Follow Aysha's journey via Instagram

Interview by Ethan Butler



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