Vince Staples wanted to do something different.
Although he’s known for wearing Chuck Taylors, the 25-year-old artist from Long Beach, Calif., wanted to update a lesser-known silhouette from the Converse archives: the Thunderbolt, a sneaker that pulls from the brand’s history with running sneakers, which dates back to the 1900s.
“You have the Chuck and the One Star and it was just time to work with a shoe that a lot of people aren’t designing for the brand,” said Staples. “Me being the kind of person I am, I wanted to see what I could do with another silhouette.”
Staples worked with Converse designer Brook Bergland and team on the collection. The sneaker, which comes in a cream and black colorway that Staples said originated from the demo sneaker and they decided to keep it. It retails for $110. He also worked on an apparel capsule that includes a varsity jacket, a sweatshirt and track pants — each covered with “Run.” The line retails from $350 to $90.
“Vince has a very distinct point of view — he sits outside of the traditional definitions one might try to apply to him,” said Jimmy Manley, senior director of special projects at Converse. “He took a dive into our archives and identified the Thunderbolt as a sneaker he wanted to tell a story with and he did it in his own voice. By offering creative commentary around the culture connected to the sneaker’s heritage, he created a capsule, that is modern in execution, and uniquely ironic in concept.”
This is Staples’ second collaboration with Converse. He released a collection based on his album, “Big Fish Theory,” earlier this year. For the Thunderbolt project, he hasn’t integrated any details from his recently released album “FM!” — the sneaker was designed a year ago before he started recording, he said — but he did drop a line of merch with Verdy, a Japanese designer and artist, for “FM!” Purchases from that did not go toward his album sales, a technique that’s spurred controversy throughout the year. Staples said he’s not against it.
“I don’t do it, but I don’t mind it,” he said. “But for people who care about album sales, do whatever makes you happy. I don’t judge anyone for doing what they have to do to make things easier for themselves. The fans are going to buy the T-shirts anyway, so why not.”
Aside from Staples, Converse works with Tyler, The Creator, Miley Cyrus and A$AP Nast. Although Staples is friends with Tyler — he calls him his grandson — they rarely talk about Converse collabs when they see each other.
“It’s weird. You would think that would make sense, but we honestly never talk about things like that. We just hang out,” said Staples. “But the growth of his brand and his identity is something that’s underappreciated and undervalued.”
Staples, who has appeared in Sprite commercials, has a tour coming up next year, but no big ambitions regarding corporate partnerships in the future. When asked who he wants to work with next, he seems ambivalent about it and instead runs off a list of things he wants to purchase.
“I want a piece of Rimowa luggage. I want a nice lamp. I don’t leave my house, so house stuff is always cool,” said Staples. “Who should we make money from Courtni?” he asked his publicists over the phone. “You love your Tesla,” she responded. “I don’t know. He’s kind of creepy though. I like working with common folk.”