With their latest sneaker, the Sponge Crater, we are offered a look at what the ACW* founder and creative director was referring to.
Beginning with the Chuck Taylor All-Star Lugged in 2020, the two have been fine-tuning the sweet spot between Converse's long history of sneaker design and the London-based label's conceptualism and getting more abstract with every release.
The brand's latest collaboration is unapologetically space-age, combining new technologies, unconventional designs, and sustainable practices. The end result is a shoe that is reinventing how sneakers traditionally look.
The bulky Sponge Crater embodies Converse's radical new design language and it's a long way from the Chuck 70s we all grew up loving.
The laceless limited-edition sneaker has a futuristic aesthetic and the technology to back it up. Straight off the bat, when looking at the shoe you are confronted by a speckled grey exoskeleton that holds a vibrant orange knit upper. That outer body, which includes the sole unit and a backless mule-shaped upper, is created using crater foam.
Releasing on June 23 via the Highsnobiety Shop, check out our interview with Matt Sleep, Design Director, Energy Footwear, at Converse, below.
Converse has been making footwear since 1908 and this sneaker feels like a departure from its archive. Was the aim with this shoe to focus on the future?
That is the beauty of Converse and the Chuck, it is timeless. It is steeped in heritage but is just as on-trend today as it has been in the past 100+ years. It is a privilege to be part of the team that is responsible for carrying on this amazing silhouette’s legacy for another 100+ years!
At the same time though, we continue to break convention and explore the new lines of our design language, such as the Sponge Crater, for a totally new silhouette that propels the brand forward.
Interestingly, there was actually a shoe called the “Sponge” in our archive which did have an easy on and easy off proposition.
What was the original idea that sparked the creation of these sneakers?
After releasing a reimagined Chuck inspired by Nike’s pioneering “Space Hippie” efforts, the Sponge Crater is a first-of-its-kind full-body Crater Foam silhouette that exemplifies the concept of “less is more.” It is both an exploration and exaggeration of Crater Foam as a comfort material and a study in reducing complexity.
What technologies have gone into making this shoe?
The Sponge Crater is made of only a few components, most notably, the first full cage structure crafted from Crater Foam which speaks to the silhouette’s design and also plays a part in helping ensure comfort.
Also, there is revolutionary CX foam underfoot and an egg-crate style traction pod outsole. The flat-knit upper helps promote breathability and the spandex collar, pull tabs, and exaggerated heel kick enhance ease of entry.
The Crater Foam which is used for the sole unit and body has specs of color in it, how is that look achieved? Are they in different places on every pair?
Crater Foam is made with a blend of standard Nike foams and a percentage of Nike Grind Rubber and the resulting granules create a really unique texture and color mix on every midsole.
How would you describe your relationship with Samuel Ross and the way it’s developed since the first collaboration in 2020?
Our relationship has only grown to push boundaries even further. Samuel has brought many things to our collaboration but none more important than his way of seeing and understanding the symbiotic nature of how the form and ‘feel’ of a product must work when creating new concepts in partnership together.
Similar to the Aeon Active, this shoe is laceless making it easy to slip on and off. How does that ease of access fit into the design philosophy behind the collaboration?
It all comes back to “less is more.” Stripping the product back to have all the essential pieces that are driving the comfort experience for the consumer when they are wearing the shoe, but laces were not a necessary part of that functionality.
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