Crooked Tongues and Dr. Romanelli pull the covers off of Dr. Romanelli’s latest collaboration involving Converse. Having previously linked up on an All Star Chuck Taylor for (PRODUCT)RED, a derivative of that quintessential classic is the new model of focus with the All Star Chuck Taylor Cupsole. Dubbed the “Born in the USA” collection, two models combine elements of Americana such as duck canvas, the “Stars and Stripes”, bald eagles and peacoat-inspired melton wool. A list of questions and answers below give a further insight into the collection which will be available at Offspring including Selfridges as of September 15th, 2010.
Are you picky when it comes to partners these days? Folk got a little collaboration heavy in past years, but you’ve taken some interesting paths.
Yes, I’m very selective about who I work with—especially on the collaboration front. So much energy goes into a successful collaboration. You can definitely tell when something’s been rushed versus a colab that’s been nurtured and properly executed. I really do enjoy the process of collaborating. There is something inspiring about working with another company and or artist. There is a unique energy exchange that’s really hard to achieve when working on your own. It opens up an alternative perspective into your brand and more importantly the overall project process, adding different possibilities that may have been unseen or unnoticed.
I guess there is some similarity where everything suddenly stops and or seems to makes sense when finding the perfect moment and or story to tell with these “sacred cows.” There is the idea of stopping time, revisiting a memory that once captured so much of my soul. Resurrecting that chapter and flipping it for an new audience. I’ve been lucky with brands being receptive of my vision. Especially Converse! They’ve been very open to my ideas—even the crazy ones.
The level of detail you bring to the table is pretty intense—do any ideas or details get lost to allow the shoe to make manufacture?
Good question. I’m always surprised how many variations of a design we’ll go through before delivering the final. That goes across the board for whatever it is I’m working on. Of course not every proposed detail makes it across the finish line with the shoe manufacturer. I’m pretty diligent about staying connected/true to the original design/details and Converse is very good about keeping it as close as they can to the original concept.
What’s the overall theme of this project? Is it an ode to artists like Jasper Johns who’ve reinterpreted the stars and stripes before?
The overall theme of this project was USA and celebrating my love for Americana. There’s something special about the USA. I can’t analyse it and I can’t quantify it. I’m not good at discussing the ins and outs of politics. It’s something much, much more fundamental than that, a passion about the underlying identity of our country, about what put it together and what holds it together. Our country’s history is phenomenally important to me, all the people who died defending it and worked so hard to create it. That’s one of the reasons that I love the clothes from back when our tags actually had “Made in the USA” written on them.
For the shoes, we wanted to play with the image of the flag, with Americana, as well with the idea of flipping workwear. We also wanted to take inspiration from American art, Jasper Johns flag painting particularly (we loved the texture and depth he brought to his interpretation) and the idea of reworking an iconic image—in this case the flag—into something new.
The All Star Cup is tweaked from the offset—what’s your take on that version of the shoe? We’re pretty precious about the All Star, but it works…it seems more comfortable too. Does that alteration open the floodgates to get a little crazier with the Chuck?
Yes, the new Cup Sole design definitely opens up the playing field. In simplest terms its a modern spin on the classic. I actually really like the shoe. It’s a bit more comfortable on my foot and still captures the same classic energy I always loved with the Chucks.