As our eyes prepared to focus on the spring/summer 14 catwalks of New York, Converse and Maison Martin Margiela treated us to teasers of their much publicised creative coming together. For their first confident stride forward, Converse Chuck Taylor All Star and Jack Purcell trainers were drenched in Maison Martin Margiela’s iconic white paint. Covering all canvas, eyelets, laces and soles, the old favourites are altered simply yet radically. All white everything. A palette and sole cleanser. For me, the French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry best defined minimalist design as being “not when there is nothing more to add, but when there’s nothing left to take away.” This is a makeover from a true minimalist iconoclast. However, what interests me most is that the white washing is just the start. As soon as the paint filled brush leaves the Converse classics, they naturally crack and shed their outer coat to reveal their original selves beneath. So simple and transformative, the hand painted act is the beginning of a unique dialogue between both brands. As they advance with age with each step forward and evolve in the everyday, they reveal their true selves in their own way. Wear and tear is rarely so intriguing and so obvious.
From well loved wallets to beautiful brogues, the gentle ageing of leather is a an ever absorbing process but it takes its time. The blank Converse canvas encourages change. Thankfully, after following fashion’s conveyor belt through from London to Milan and Paris, two pairs of ice white Jack Purcells were waiting for me at the office. A few weeks of pacy peddling, puddle plummeting and pavement pounding has seen a rich burgundy hue peek out from beneath the cracks on one pair (black, blue and an exclusive yellow are also hidden behind the white wash) whilst the other is still perfectly wrapped in its thick blanket of white. Minimal metamorphosis. Using a recent paint tin spill in the car park as the ideal backdrop, I couldn’t resist documenting their difference.