Urban Jungle

We chat to Dexter Cheng about his journey with Converse and the message behind "Love Fearlessly"

28 February 2020

 

 

 

Dexter Cheng is an entrepreneur, artist, fashion aficionado, and over the past few years, a Converse_X_  global ambassador!

 

He was introduced to us through a meeting of similar mindsets in Los Angeles last year, and from there we’ve followed the progression of both Dexter and the Converse platform he’s highlighted on. 

 

Through his association with this youth creative community, we’ve been introduced to his work and himself. We thought it about time to share with you some of his own thoughts on the brand, the journey he’s on with them, and what he feels he’s gained from this great opportunity to be seen on a worldwide stage.

 

With the chance to be heard in his own words, here’s Dexter!

 

 

We chose you to tell your "Love Fearlessly" story, a key message in the latest Converse campaign. In your video that aired this week on BLK TV you mentioned your love for fashion/skate culture. As we got to know you in LA you discussed the difference on how New Zealand culture, compared to LA's, looks at fashion and what is accepted. Can you expand a little more on these thoughts? 

 

I think in New Zealand, you go to any mainstream retail store and everything on the shelves looks the same. All t-shirts have large, printed logos and that’s about it. I think that's what fashion has kind of become here - how a brand can print their logo better, or use a better font. I think it's pretty sad when you spend $70 on a printed logo t-shirt, but that's what people in NZ think to be “good fashion”. 

While I was in LA I saw people wearing whatever they wanted. I met @mariobelike (fellow Converse_X_ member) and he blew my mind  when he showed me a button shirt he had made from a J.W. Anderson x Converse tote bag. I think in LA people just know how to express themselves and their creativity, through their clothing choices. I bought a vest from the GOLF store, which I wore for the full weekend at Camp Flog Gnaw, and I knew that if I had worn that back at home people would think I'm weird.

 

"Loving Yourself" should mean people, in this case men, should be able to be express themselves through fashion and what they wear. What do you want to tell the people out there that are afraid of this concept?

 

Start simple, try a different fabric, try something that you might not usually wear. Thrifting is such a good way to try stuff you usually wouldn't…. try some colour possibly?

 

A strong focus on the "Love Fearlessly" campaign is the use of Instagram and the fear it places on a lot of younger generations. People are becoming more and more worried and obsessed over how many "likes" they receive on their posts. Converse wanted to change this way of thinking and tell the world that "one like is all you need". During your BLK TV session, you briefly touch on your love for Instagram; "you are free to do what you want". 

Can you elaborate on this a little, and how do you use it for your own creative work?

 

I used to be worried about my likes so much, that it literally consumed me. I had apps and alarms telling me when was the optimum time to post to get the most likes. In that process, yes I was getting more likes, but I was losing who I was in real life. I kept checking my phone to check my stats, and started drifting apart from my friends - I became so lonely at that time. It took me a while to realize that all of that didn't matter - seriously post what you like and not what others will like. 

If you show the people around you, the love you have for yourself, they'll feel it. You're bound to run into haters online, but that's how you know you're on the right track. They’re just in the process of learning how to love themselves, because you can't love anyone else if you don’t know how to love yourself first. Instead of responding to negative comments with hate, we should be there to help each other on our own journeys to loving ourselves.


You have worked alongside Converse for a number of years now as an ambassador and member of the global Converse_X_ movement. Can you tell us a little about how this started and what you have done with the brand so far?

 

I got a message on Instagram approximately two years ago from the @converse_anz account, asking if I wanted to be a part of a special project they were working on. I had heard of Converse_X_ before and their social media, and to be honest was really hoping that that was what this was about - I got to their launch event, and it was!  

In the last two years, I’ve worked on a Chuck 70 promo which was used on their Australia/NZ social platforms and in November 2019, travelled to LA and shot a campaign for Tyler, The Creator’s Gianno sneaker launch. It's been a pretty crazy couple of years working with my favourite brand, and I'm really grateful for all they've provided me with.

 

Black Magazine spent time with you in Los Angeles last year with Converse_X_. During this experience, we learned you own almost every pair in the Converse Golf le Fleur range. Can you tell us what attracts you to this particular collaboration and your highlights?

 

Haha yeah, the Golf Le Fleur collaboration started with my favourite sneaker silhouette, the One Stars, so that's how I initially got into it. 

I think that was when men's sneakers were mainly black, grey or white and I was definitely looking for more colour in my wardrobe, and when Golf Le Fleurs came out with colours like yellow, lilac, pink etc, I was instantly drawn to them. I tried so hard to get that first collection, but had no success, so if anyone out there has them in a size 9, message me! 

I think the progression of the collection is really interesting as well - experimenting with different materials and fabrics, it pushed me to get out of my comfort zone in terms of the clothing I wore. Last year after admiring Tyler's work for so long, getting to shoot a campaign for a new silhouette and meeting the man himself made me realise that opportunities are always out there, you just gotta grab them and give it your all.

 

How have you changed/grown as you've gone further into the collaboration with Converse?

 

Working with Converse has definitely taught me to be myself and be comfortable with my style of work, not try to be anyone else. I gained a lot of confidence in putting myself out there.

 

 

Dexter wears the Chuck Taylor All Star 70 Love Fearlessly High Top in Thunder Grey

Available online, Converse stores and selected retailers worldwide

Follow his creative jounrey on Instagram here

 

Photography [Western Springs]: Luke Foley-Martin

Photography [Urban]: Joseph Griffen

Words: David K. Shields

Photo Assist: Cal Post

Production: Rachael Churchward and Ethan Butler

 

Special thank you to Nina Bonica and Dave Dullens at Converse HQ

 

 

 

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