Converse. Chuck Taylor. That classic One Star sneaker. I am confident in saying that almost everyone on this planet has owned one pair of Converse sneakers in their lifetime. And if they haven’t, where have they been? Converse have always been on the forefront of the sneaker business. Started in 1908 by Marquis Mills Converse, the company simply provided winterised rubber sole footwear for men, women and children. Breaking onto the world stage in 1917 with the introduction of the classic All-Star Basketball shoe, the One Star icon still available on todays market. Over the past 112 years, we have seen campaign collaborations with some of the worlds biggest designers and “influencers” including musicians AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne, and Miley Cyrus.
In 2018, Converse have again collaborated with Tyler, the Creator; American rapper, record producer and clothing designer. Inspired by Tyler and in celebration of this collaboration, Converse X was born. Converse X is a global group of influential "Gen Z” chosen to participate in, create with and advocate for Converse based on their style, attitude and ambition. Inspired by Tyler, and many others that have forged their own way, these individuals see the world differently. They make it their own, follow an atypical path and ultimately succeed by doing everything on their own terms.
Currently, a closed instagram group of more than 500 crew from over 10 cities around the globe; the Converse X gravitate towards the Converse One Star - its style, attitude and history. Converse aim to build relationships and create advocates through unique opportunities; connecting kids who live in different parts of the world but share a likeminded view. Converse feel “the experiences rooted in this attitude are something only they can provide”.
To celebrate the launch of the latest Converse/Tyler, the Creator collaboration, Converse selected their top Converse X ambassadors and bought them to Los Angeles for the ultimate One Star experience! Black Magazine were lucky enough to tag along as they were treated to the “real LA”, not Los Angeles as the tourist destination. From accomodation and penthouse parties at Hollywood’s iconic Roosevelt Hotel, to private shopping at Tyler’s apparel store GOLF (with Tyler, the Creator himself) and even attending his sold out Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival, the Converse X community brought to Los Angeles are also subject to the seasonal One Star campaign that will roll out globally from January 15th 2019.
My journey with Converse X began at LAX on November 8. Privately chaffered to downtown Hollywoods Roosevelt Hotel, I knew straight away I was in for a treat. I heard the Converse X were shooting the campaign at the hotel pool. Within seconds of witnessing the Converse X community for the first time, we knew Converse had nailed it. The most inspiring group of Gen Z crew I will ever lay eyes on from around the the globe (New Zealand, Australia, Poland, Thailand, Chile to name a few) from DJs, musicians, artists, photographers, models and even a ‘postie’, these kids all shared the same thing, a unique and beautiful, effortless sense of style. Each individual style in perfect sync for their chosen One Star Sneaker. A match made in heaven! The X crew had spent the afternoon shooting the upcoming One Star campaign the most incredible location, poolside at the historical Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Their dreams come true!
That evening, we were told to meet in the lobby for a 7pm surprise dinner. The crew were driven to LA’s world famous Thai restaurant Night + Market. A private courtyard filled with delicious food and cocktails. On top of everything Converse can do, they sure know how to eat and drink. We even got a glimpse of John Mayer, another lover of Converse. A real LA experience! Rumours were afloat at dinner that Converse had another surprise installed for the evening, and boy did they deliver. A private party at the rooftop Roosevelt Hotel Penthouse. Views of the beautiful Los Angeles skyline and Hollywood sign, all over a delicious and endless amount of Veuve Clicquot champagne.
The following morning, the media were lucky enough to attend the Converse Press Preview. A delicious breakfast and viewing of some exciting upcoming Converse projects for the New Year with the worlds best brands. We then joined Converse X for a full day tour of “The Real LA. The LA you keep fucking dope. The One Star city”. This included a private tour of Tyler, the Creators store, GOLF. A must see on Fairfax Avenue which included a 200 metre line for the public, just to get their hands on something Tyler created!
After treating ourselves with a traditional taco and Corona lunch, in a basketball court, we were taken to another hip area of Los Angeles, Echo Park, for a panel led by Lee Spielman (band member of Trash Talk and Founder of Babylon) and Darryl “Curtains” Jackson (Apparel Director at Converse Collections incubate). Straight away I can see why Converse choose these guys for a discussion with the Converse X community. The most inspirational 30 minutes of the experience thus far. Own your own world, create your own experiences and a big “F” to those you try to tell you otherwise! A vital ingredient to succeeding in todays world.
That evening, we are again blown away by dinner at one of LA’s iconic Italian restaurants Jon and Vinnys. Deemed as one of the hardest restaurants to book in the city, Converse had us covered with the entire place being shut down for Converse X crew. With all of our eyes bigger than our stomachs, we head back to the hotel for another poolside party (left over cookies in hand as Converse Australia/New Zealand leader, Rachel insisting we couldn’t waste them (haha).
Over the final two days we were lucky enough to attend Tyler, the Creators famous Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival at Dodger Stadium with VIP access. The sold out festival featured a stacked up lineup including Kanye West, Kid Kudi’s I See Ghosts, A$AP Rocky, Post Malone, Ms Lauren Hill, Rex Orange County to name a few. A festival filled with inspiring street fashion, delicious food and that gorgeous Californian sunshine.
As we make our way home, we reflect on an incredible experience with Converse. A global empire leading, not following. Stay tuned as we chat to one of New Zealand’s Converse X ambassadors Harry Goldie about his experience with Converse and the trip of a lifetime to Los Angeles. A big thank you to Rachel Krasky, Nina Bonica and Suevia Ellison for an experience I will forever hold in my heart.
Words: Ethan Butler