Converse, which will turn 110 next year, isn’t new to collaborations. Its signature silhouette, the Chuck Taylor All Star, is an ideal canvas for brands like Comme des Garçons or Missoni to recalibrate the shoe and reach a wider audience.But in 2017 there was a marked shift in the people, places and things that Converse began to align with.“This year we’ve been working hard to do a lot of great things that connect with our consumer and youth culture,” said Khobi Brooklyn, who was hired in May to lead the brand’s global communications team. “Sneaker culture has hit peak hype this year. There are a lot of collaborations across all kinds of brands and interesting executions and concepts. The skate lifestyle has become a big part of fashion, so it’s an interesting time."Nike Inc. purchased Converse in 2003, two years after the Boston-based company filed for bankruptcy, and it has grown from $200 million to $2 billion in sales. During the 2014 fiscal year, revenue increased by 15 percent, and in 2015 it grew by 21 percent. But by 2016, revenue only increased by 2 percent. This can be compared to Vans, another heritage footwear brand that was purchased by VF Corp. Inc. in 2004 and is leading Converse with $2.3 billion in sales. At Vans, revenue increased by 17 percent in 2014, 16 percent in 2015 and 6 percent in 2016.During the fiscal first quarter of 2017, Converse brand’s sales fell 16 percent year-over-year. Andrew Champion, Nike’s chief financial officer, attributed that decline to tightening the supply in North America to prevent oversaturation.These numbers are due to a variety of factors, but stiff competition is a primary one. The sneaker market continues to grow and become more crowded, and in turn, brands must release product that cuts through the noise and resonates with consumers.In 2016, Converse tapped Nike executives for some of its top roles. Davide Grasso succeeded Jim Calhoun as president and chief executive officer — he was previously the chief marketing officer at Nike. Julien Cahn, Nike’s former senior marketing director, was named cmo at Converse and Sean McDowell, who held design positions at Nike, became vice president of design and innovation at Converse. This team focuses on speaking to a younger customer with meaningful collaborations that are coupled with content and experiences.The year started with the launch of the Chuck Modern, a more comfortable take on the Chuck Taylor. The product launch was tied to a “Forever Chuck” campaign, which included celebrities and influencers such as rapper Vince Staples, model Winnie Harlow and “Stranger Things” actress Millie Bobby Brown.[caption id="attachment_11027411" align="aligncenter" width="883"] Tyler, the Creator's Golf Le Fleur collection.[/caption]Then the brand focused on its One Star silhouette with an Undefeated collaboration that dropped in May, and a Tyler the Creator partnership that was unveiled in July. The rapper released pastel colorways of the One Star sneaker under the Golf Le Fleur imprint and went on to release more styles, including apparel, later in the year. Brooklyn said the sneakers sold out within 24 hours and, in October, Tyler opened a permanent Golf store on Fairfax in Los Angeles. Brooklyn declined to answer whether Converse helped fund that store.“Converse collaborations have sold out in the past, but never have we seen such a big interest in a single line from Converse. And Tyler did that,” said Yu-Ming Wu, the cofounder of SneakerCon.In the past Converse relied less on celebrities and more on artists such as Futura or Andy Warhol. Now, along with Tyler, the brand is working with A$AP Nast, who released a One Star sneaker in September, and Miley Cyrus, who will be releasing a capsule collection of sneakers with the company.On the designer side, Converse typically worked with established fashion brands such as Missoni or John Varvatos, but it has begun to tap into newer firms such as J.W. Anderson, who has a seasonal deal with the brand. His Glitter Gutter collection drew lines outside of the Converse store earlier this month. Speculation about a partnership with Know Wave, a streetwear brand, also swirled when prototypes of the sneaker popped up during Miami Art Basel. Brooklyn said she could neither confirm nor deny the news.These product launches have been coupled with content tie-ins. Earlier this year Converse introduced Public Access, a YouTube series that featured celebrities such as Cyrus and Brown interviewing their cool, famous friends. Tyler documented the design of his first Converse shoe on “Nuts + Bolts,” his Vice series. For the release of the sneaker in August, he held a surprise show in New York that was open to the first 100 people who bought his Converse sneakers at the Foot Locker in Times Square.“We have different collaborations that have different audiences,” said Brooklyn. “We are finding the balance between our brand and high fashion and trying to get in front of the consumer and deliver them an experience.”So far, the efforts are working. At the end of the 2017 fiscal year, revenues for Converse were up 6 percent.“We want to make sure that the product is special and focused and a true reflection of the artist," said Brooklyn. "We do think of some of these partnerships as more targeted at a narrower audience, but this allows us to do more and present something more creative to the market."
EXCLUSIVE: Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.” Read the story by @jessiredale, link in bio. #wwdnews
@theluxurycollection is officially launching a collection, tapping Sofia Sanchez de Betak for the capsule. Over 30 styles will be featured in the Chufy x The Luxury Collection, debuting next month at Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, FiveStory and more. De Betak, known as “@chufy,” drew inspiration for the collection from her trips to Japan in the past year #wwdfashion
@lhd, founder and CEO of @thewebster, has teamed up with @lebonmarcherivegauche for the European launch of her ready-to-wear line, LHD. The launch will come with an exclusive pop-up opening today that’s set to run through May 20. Located on the second floor, it carries her debut Miami-themed resort collection, launched in November as see-now-buy-now. #wwdfashion
@longchamp, which marks its 70th anniversary this year, just opened its biggest U.S. store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. On the lower level there’s a floor-to-ceiling display of the brand’s iconic Le Pliage bag – in all of its different colors, shapes and sizes. Customers can also have their product personalized in-store by imprinting names, initials or emblems. #wwdfashion (📷: @ericmtownsend)
“Whenever I’m in that place of sound and music, I don’t have fear or nervousness…This album has a lot of themes of courage and boldness and I want to be the soundtrack for people’s lives. I’ll be so happy if [my songs] evoke strength in people, which I know music has done for me,” says @kimbramusic of her newest album “Primal Heart.” The New Zealand-born singer sat down with WWD to talk about her music, newest tour and connecting with hear fans — read more on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
Luxury handbag resale company @rebagofficial is planning to sell a rare collectible for $70,000: the @hermes White Crocodile Himalayan Birkin. The exclusive Birkin sold for about $100,000 in 2008, when @davidbeckham bought one for his wife @victoriabeckham to add to her collection. Read more about the rare Birkin on WWD.com #wwdaccessories
With her costume pearl necklace and what-you-see-is-what-you-get style, Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday at age 92, was a straight-shooter from start to finish.
Born Barbara Pierce in New York City, Bush served as the 37th first lady, as well as the country’s second lady from 1981 to 1989. In addition to being part of the longest presidential marriage — 73 years — Bush also had the unlikely distinction of having one son, George W., become the 43rd president and another son, Jeb, run unsuccessfully in 2016. Having served as second lady during the Reagan administration’s two terms and lived all over the world during her own husband’s ascending political career, Barbara Bush made it clear that literacy — not fashion — was her priority. Read more from Rosemary Feitelberg’s obituary on the late First Lady in WWD.com, link in bio. #barbarabush #wwdnews
Western and ’90s trends have influenced denim for fall 2018. Think raw, dark and coated jeans mixed with bold prints and tough leather. #trendtuesdays #wwdfashion (Styled by @thealexbadia;📷: @ryanplett)