The century-old heritage product Converse offers still resonates with consumers today. However, the brand recognizes change is needed in order to grow and introduced today a new line of footwear that it believes will lead the company into the future.
The line of shoes will come with CX in the name, an indication that they were created with the brand’s new toolbox of pinnacle comfort materials and technologies. The CX products will also, according to Converse, deliver “new levels of comfort, wearability and design.” The name harks back to 1915 when Converse used it on its rubber products as a symbol of quality.
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“We’ve gone back to our history; we’ve pulled a page from our past. CX was a signifier that used to represent extra-good quality. We’ve modernized that logo and reclaimed that same sentiment embodying and signifying pinnacle and superior comfort,” Converse VP of global footwear Brandis Russell said during a presentation of the product today in New York City.
Included in the toolbox is CX Stretch Canvas, which Converse said adapts to the foot and enables easy on-off wearability; CX Foam, a material that pairs a single-density PU insole with a lightweight phylon midsole to absorb impact and provide long-lasting comfort; and a new outsole design that is both flexible and durable.
Aside from materials, all of the shoes for the first drop will feature a bold orange hue, which was selected by design.
“We worked with our insights and color team to come up with this wild mango, which denotes a sense of comfort and wellness when you interact with that color,” Brandon Avery, VP of global innovation at Converse, explained during the presentation.
The CX line will launch on March 19 with three silhouettes. The All Star Disrupt CX, arguably the boldest look of the trio, is described by Converse as “a future-forward twist on the classic Chuck Taylor All Star silhouette” with an exaggerated statement heel counter; the Chuck Taylor Disrupt CX is a low-cut slip-on shoe; and the Chuck Taylor All Star CX is most reminiscent of the original but equipped with the pinnacle material upgrades that CX offers.
The All Star Disrupt CX will retail for $120, the Chuck Taylor Disrupt CX will come with a $90 price tag and the Chuck Taylor All Star CX will sell for $75. All will be available on Converse.com and at select retailers.
Although this is the latest reimagining of the Chuck Taylor silhouette, it isn’t the first time the brand has tinkered with the icon. In July 2015, Converse delivered the much-hyped Chuck 2, a shoe that was strikingly similar to its predecessor, but featured advances in construction and technology, including Nike’s Lunarlon cushioning. The shoe had excitement behind it, both from the brand and with consumers, but it didn’t live up to the hype.
Russell told FN after today’s presentation that a misstep such as the Chuck 2 isn’t likely to happen with CX.
“The toolbox that we’ve created with CX gives us more elasticity. We don’t have to stay static to one language or one look. We don’t have to exemplify it with one silhouette. We can use different rates and proportions of it through our product portfolio. It’s less about one shoe or item and more about a system,” Russell told FN after the presentation.
Despite the Chuck 2 experiment falling short of expectations, Russell believes it was still a net positive for Converse.
“You’re always learning whenever you’re trying to do new. You can’t continue to grow as a brand if you stand still. The work we did in the past has been great insight for what we’ve done today,” Russell told FN. “What we feel good about is we know consumers for sure want to continue to see our brand give more.”
Aside from the CX sneakers, Converse revealed three apparel lines. The standout is Shapes, a genderless collection that the brand said is designed for body shape and “created from the belief that size is a reference point, not an identity.” According to Converse, the use of geometric pieces with pleats and gussets allow for ease of wear and will help the brand “accommodate the widest possible variety of body shapes within one collection.”
Shapes also has an element of sustainability, making the garments with 50% recycled cotton and 50% virgin cotton, and Converse said there is less cutting waste created due to the efficiencies of the construction process.
The Shapes line will launch in the summer and feature five pieces: the Bubble Crew, the Box Tee, the Short Sleeve Tee, the Triangle Front Chino and the Triangle PO Hoodie. Prices will range from $25 to $75.
Two other lines, Utility Fleece and Court Ready, will arrive in the fall and in early 2021, respectively.
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