Fierce

Converse Is Putting Dominican Art On Their Shoes And Here’s How People Are Feeling About The Decision

Influencer Ray Polanco Jr. and Converse have collaborated again for Latinx Heritage Month as a part of the “Converse by LatinX” collection. Polanco Jr. recruited artist Eric Narváez to hand draw and create a Chuck Taylor that featured coloring book style art of Dominican iconography. 

The collection also features work from tattoo artist Don Rimx, and Mexican and Colombian artist Paloma Montoya. Each of Polanco Jr.’s shoes will have a unique pattern of the cultural iconography — that means every pair is one of a kind. 

Ray Polanco Jr. Uses Dominican Upbringing As Inspiration

“Inspired by Ray Polanco Jr.’s experience growing up Dominican in New York City, the hand-drawn images encourage wearers to bring the design to life with color transforming the Chuck Taylor into a cultural coloring book for your feet. Make the “Puro Platano” story your own. Shout to Uptown,” the Converse description reads.

Puto Plátano

“What a feeling… meet my new @converse the “puro plátano 2”  — a cultural coloring book for your feet inspired by my experience growing up Dominican in NYC. I want the world to get to know us beyond flag colors, so I designed a visual story of pride. I left the hand-drawn images blank so YOU can collab with me. the reality is us LatinX come in all colors, so I want u to make these ur own,” Polanco Jr. wrote on Instagram. 

This isn’t the first time Polanco Jr. has brought Dominican pride to Chuck Taylors

Polanco Jr. collaborated with Converse on the Puro Plátano last year. It was a simple plátano green shoe with the words “puro platano” on the side in gold letters. 

“As a storyteller, I believe sneakers are the perfect canvas to communicate a message because we all wear some kind of footwear. Last year, I wanted to get the world to know more about Dominicans beyond just the colors of our flag and I thought food was the best way to do that, which led to transforming the Chuck Taylor into a Platano. This year, I wanted to connect on a deeper level with the ‘Puro Platano’ story by collaging distinct images from my experience growing up Dominican in New York City,” Polanco Jr. told Footwear News

This year he really amped up the Dominican iconography. There’s rolos, plátanos, bachata dancersandbottles of rum among other familiar images to anyone who grew up in The Bronx.

“A lot of the shoe is inspired by family: my dad playing dominoes at the bodega with his friends, my mom wearing rolos in her hair after the beauty salon, and things like that.” he said. “Shout out to my sister who would cop Chucks in every color on Fordham Road in the Bronx back in the day. Beyond my story, I feel like anyone who grew up in NYC will connect with at least one thing on the shoe and hopefully, other people in different cities can relate, too.” 

Polanco Jr. is not the only artist included in Converse’s LatinX collection.

Paloma Montoya

Mexican and Colombian artist Paloma Montoya’s artwork was inspired by Colombian culture, like its cafes, people, and vallenato musicians and singers.

“I was born from my father, a Mexican and my mother from #medellincolombia, but I was raised by my mother and maternal grandparents. All #antioqueños. I grew up on arepas, tamales and empanadas #colombianos , sancocho and natilla. I listened to Carlos Vives and know the lyrics (in Spanish) to Jaime R. Echavarría’s Serenata de Amor – Thanks Mamita,” Paloma wrote in her Instagram caption. 

“My grandparents bought the house in South Gate. I’ve been here all my life, I didn’t embrace my Mexican side from my father, I embraced it here with my friends who are Mexican and Mexican-American. Mexico and South Gate run through my blood, but I have generations and generations of Colombian blood in me. Maybe that’s why I think about going back often? Maybe that’s why when I went and met my relatives high up in the mountains of #antioquia – it felt like home. This pair is for you Mom, Mamita and Papito.” 

Don Rimx

Puerto Rican muralist and tattoo artist, Don Rimx also got a chance to make his own custom sneaker. The unique pattern mimics rosary beads and colorful feathers. 

“Muy honrado de poder colaborar con @converse en este proyecto para diseñar un patron para el Chuck Taylor dandole un giro personalizado con el estilo original de Don Rimx inspirado en su cultura y el camino por andar,” Rimx wrote on Instagram. 

The Converse by LatinX collection is available now. Shout out to Converse for hiring these independent Latinx artists as well! 

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Vanessa Bryant Ends Relationship With Nike After They Reportedly Low-Balled Her and Slacked On Kobe Products

Entertainment

Vanessa Bryant Ends Relationship With Nike After They Reportedly Low-Balled Her and Slacked On Kobe Products

Photo via Getty Images

On Tuesday, Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant announced that she chose not to renew the Bryant estate’s contract with Nike. Nike will no longer release Kobe products. Vanessa Bryant took to Twitter to announce the news.

In a statement, Vanessa Bryant said that she had been “hoping to forge a lifelong partnership with Nike that reflects my husband’s legacy.” But apparently, the brand didn’t want to play ball.

“Kobe and Nike have made some of the most beautiful basketball shoes of all time, worn and adored by fans and athletes in all sports across the globe,” Vanessa said. “It seems fitting that more NBA players wear my husband’s product than any other signature shoe.”

She continued: “My hope will always be to allow Kobe’s fans to get and wear his products. I will continue to fight for that. Kobe’s products sell out in seconds. That says everything. I was hoping to forge a lifelong partnership with Nike that reflects my husband’s legacy. We will always do everything we can to honor Kobe and Gigi’s legacies. That will never change.”

To some fans, Vanessa’s statement left them feeling like the Bryant estate and Nike ended on less-than-friendly terms.

https://twitter.com/NBAKicks/status/1381986843206373383?s=20

The specific language Vanessa used in the statement betrayed the fact that Nike didn’t offer the Bryant estate the contract that they had been hoping for. The fact that she said she had been “hoping to form a lifelong partnership” and she will “fight” for Kobe’s fans means that Nike fell short of her expectations.

Per ESPN, Nike presented Vanessa with a contract that “was not in line” with similar contracts they had offered comparable players, like Michael Jordan and LeBron James. So basically, Nike was trying to lowball Vanessa and the Bryant estate.

Insiders say that another reason that Vanessa declined to renew the partnership was because Nike was slacking on the Kobe line.

For a while now, customers have been struggling to find Kobe footwear products on the open market. Instead, they’ve been forced to buy the products at super-marked-up resell markets.

Also per ESPN: “Bryant and the estate had grown frustrated with Nike limiting the availability of Kobe products during his retirement and after his January 2020 death in a helicopter crash. There was also frustration with the lack of availability of Kobe footwear in kids’ sizes, according to sources.”

For the most part, Kobe fans rallied around Vanessa Bryant’s decision not to renew a partnership with Nike.

According to rumblings on Twitter, it appears that Nike was profiting off of Kobe Bryant’s death because of the large uptick in in sales after his death.

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Maluma Teams Up With Luxury Brand Balmain For This Must-Have Fashion Collection

Entertainment

Maluma Teams Up With Luxury Brand Balmain For This Must-Have Fashion Collection

It’s 2021 and we have no shortage of epic collaborations between some of the world’s biggest Latino stars and top fashion brands. Everyone from J Balvin and Bad Bunny to Cardi B and now Maluma have entered the fashion industry to sell a lifestyle. And people are buying!

Maluma and French fashion house Balmain bring us a limited-edition collaboration.

Colombian superstar Maluma has partnered with French fashion house Balmain to launch a limited edition collection that will be available from April 12 through June 1 in all Balmain stores, including brick and mortar and online.

The collection, which includes sneakers, blazers, t-shirts, pants and other ready-to-wear clothing, will also be available at Saks Fifth Avenue as of April 15.

The Balmain + Maluma line marks the first time ever the brand has designed a line with a celebrity. And it seems like the brand’s creative designer is pretty excited about the collab. Through photos on his Instagram, Olivier Rousteing referred to the reggaetón singer as his inspiration, captioned with supportive laudatory messages about merging their cultures and joint design process.

“Maluma, more than him being an incredible singer,” Rousteing notes, “[brings] a lot to the fashion community with his joy and his happiness and the fact that he’s always playing up his style from different kinds of houses from around the world, mixing different cultures as well… I think the collaboration with Maluma is obviously giving to Balmain and pushing the aesthetic more internationally.”

Maluma also seems to be pumped for the opportunity!

Although Balmain has featured other celebrities in advertising campaigns and runway shows, it has never actually enlisted a celebrity to help design a full, name-branded line.

The brand’s high profile, along with the haute-couture retail price of the collection, underscores how entrenched Maluma is now in the global fashion world and how valuable his endorsement and name is perceived by high fashion.

“It’s been one of my goals to work with a respected fashion house on a collection, but this journey was more exciting, as Olivier pushed me to design with him and sketch looks that I personally will wear off the stage and showcase high couture with a bit of Papi Juancho,” says Maluma, referencing both his album name and alter ego.

But if you want a piece of the collection be prepared to drop those coins.

Credit: Phraa / Balmain

Items in the Balmain + Maluma collection range from a black cotton T-shirt that retails for $495, to $1,500 high top sneakers to a $2,555 multi-color print bomber jacket.

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