If you thought the ugly sneaker trend of 2010 had disappeared, think again. It’s actually alive and well. Evolving into new, even more dubious forms and reaching increasingly ridiculous heights, as Converse’s latest sneaker proves.
Meet the Converse Sponge Crater: an unexpectedly edgy, high-tech foam sneaker from a brand known for producing classic, low-tech canvas basketball shoes, namely the iconic Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars.
Launched last week, the mule cutout sneaker is formed with a sculpted foam body and a knitted sock-like upper. It doesn’t have a traditional outsole: the foam midsole forms pods on the bottom of the shoe for traction.
Specifically, the foam is Nike Crater Foam (Nike owns Converse), a material previously used in sneakers like the Nike Space Hippie. It contains Nike Grid, a recycled waste product made from rubber, fibers, leather and textiles, giving it a rough look and texture.
It is somewhat similar in appearance to the Yeezy Foam RNRR – and that’s no mistake. The current “big thing” in sneaker design seems to be foam or rubber clogging designs, with brands like Adidas, Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton and New Balance all participating. Converse is just the latest trend follower – and that’s the problem.
The Converse Sponge Crater was launched via a limited edition A-COLD-WALL*. It’s a strategy Nike has used many times to launch new sneakers – for example, they partnered with Comme des Garçons to launch the Air VaporMax. image: subgenre
No matter how you look at these clog-like sneakers, the problem is that this doesn’t look like Converse. It looks like Nike, using Nike technology, and should probably be labeled as Nike.
We’re not quite sure about the whole cage design. Using the same materials for the construction, the midsole and outsole may look unique, but what are the implications for durability? How long will these foam knit sneakers last? Of course, this is the problem with all clog-like sneakers, but the Converse Sponge Crater seems particularly unstable.
Converse is almost a victim of its own success. While the brand has experimented with more modern designs before (for example, in the ’80s, the Converse weapon was the NBA’s go-to sneaker, with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson both rocking them), Chuckles’ enduring success means it’s really all the brand is known for – and its success has stunted their technological growth, both internally and in the eyes of consumers.
It’s a conundrum: futuristic clog sneakers like the Sponge Crater don’t really make sense for a brand like Converse. They’re not recognizable as Converse… But if Converse didn’t experiment, they’d just stay in their pigeonholes and just do Chucks. It’s a Rule 22.