Converse x Koh – The Most Minimal Chuck Taylor Ever

2008 was Converse’s 100th anniversary, it was a big event, followed by some very big releases from the centennial company. The release people would probably remember the most are Coverse’s Century pack collection of Converse All Stars. However 2008 also began a bit of an ambitious venture for Converse, namely the Converse 1Hund(red).

The concept was developed through Converse’s partnership with Product (Red), which began in 2006. The relationship was pretty simple, Converse would make some red colored kicks or apply Product (red) branding to their items and a percentage of the money would go to fighting AIDS in Africa. However things got very interesting once Converse unveiled their 1Hund(red) artists program. Ideally a collaboration would yield one great shoe and maybe one collab every year afterwards. In the case of 1Hund(red), Converse sought to celebrate its 100th anniversary, so it was decided that 100 different artists would be asked to recreate the Chuck Taylor All Star.

Of course with so many different people working on this project, some designs out shined others by a wide margin. In particular once famed artist, Terence Koh’s design was probably one of the best designs if not the best design that was spawned from the Converse 1Hund(red) project.

At the time Terence Koh was acclaimed for his performance art shows, as well as his lifestyle. He was greatly obsessed with the color white, usually being draped from head to toe in all white garments, this usually carried over into his artshows. Though he also did photography and painting. For his collaboration with Converse he chose, possibly in a preemptive move, to create the most minimalist Chuck Taylor ever. Koh’s efforts, probably have created the most minimalist All Stars to date. Its no secret that various luxury and artisan brands have desired to create Chuck Taylor clones in a lux ad minimalist way. Common Projects is the best example, as their Tournament shoes are clearly inspired by the Chuck Taylor silhouette.

However taking something simple and turning it extremely minimal may ultimately lead to a loss of the original design’s essential elements. Koh was mindful about keeping the soul of the Chuck Taylor intact. This would include the branding, toe cap, and sole design. While the overall shape and functionality were masterfully disassembled. Generally speaking Koh sought to eliminate the seams of the Chuck Taylor, as well as give the shoe a statue like appearance. As a result you will not see many visible stitches on the exterior of the shoe, furthermore the heel of the All Star does not contour to the wearer’s heel and ankle. Instead the ankle is straight, helping promote Koh’s concept of a “statuesque” Chuck Taylor. The sole design is virtually non-existent, in essence its a piece of rubber with the outline of the All Star sole. Both the exterior and interior are constructed of a soft full grain white leather, while the footbed is merely covered with a thin layer of leather. The back of the tongues have a tag which gives a brief explanation of the Converse 1Hund(red) project, the last piece to look at is the graphic on the interior of the left shoe which marks Koh’s design as #1 of 100.   The being that the Koh x Converse All Star is an ultra minimalist concept, it has a very slim profile. The sidewall is so thin, the All Star heel label actually overlaps it. There are only 6 eyelets, making this sneaker a mid top, instead of a high top. White coated Product (red) branded air vents. Product (red) air vents and eyelets were essentially the only way to identify Converse x Product (red) sneakers. Most seams were hidden. The reinenforcement stitch is the only pronounced exterior stitching. Converse (red) label sewn onto footbed. The sneaker’s backstay is sewn inside the shoe instead of outside, this probably helped the shoe keep its shape. Although the All Star has a straight heel, it does have a plastic heel, which also probably maintains the sneaker’s shape. A brief explanation of 1Hun(red). Embossed All Star logo.

Converse white label. Full grain leather laces. Unlike most leather laces, the tips have been given an angular cut and full gain face has been folded over to hide the raw side. White cotton laces were included, they’re actually thicker than the standard All Star laces. There are no eyelets.

#1 of 100. This particular pair apparently belong to an associate of Koh’s. Although the shoe was made in 2009, the quality of the sneaker is far better than anything Converse Inc has released in the last few years. Though the shoe’s design is impractical for various reason, its still wearable. While the shoe was hyped when it first came out, it has since fallen into obscurity. They are very hard to find, but the value probably wouldn’t be over its MSRP, which was $150.

*All s/o.

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