“One of the first times I remember expressing myself through clothes was writing on the white bits of my Chuck Taylors,” says London-based photographer and videographer Daniela Monteiro. Customisation and DIY have since become elements that define the 23-year-old artist’s aesthetic, spurred by a spontaneous creative process that acknowledges that, “in the moment of action and creation, everything can change”. Monteiro is known for her low-key approach to high-key projects, whether that’s directing music videos or shooting a Fendi campaign.
This same spirit has been at the heart of many subcultures throughout history. From ’60s skaters to the hardcore punk scenes born across the US throughout the ’80s, this “do what you want and do it yourself” attitude has been widely adopted by musicians and fans alike. All of whom embraced the Chuck Taylors as the go-to shoe for self expression and the celebration of personal style thanks to its accessibility and its customisable canvas – factors that see the trainer remain significant for a new generation of boundary pushers.
The Face took multimedia artist Monteiro to Converse’s Boston HQ to delve further into the Chuck Taylor’s roots in subculture and to trace its 103-year history from the premier basketball trainer of the ’60s to the perennial wardrobe favourite it is today.
“The archive was so inspiring as it showed that Converse were such pioneers in advertising, photography and graphic design,” explains the creative, who used the experience to gather references for future projects. “It motivated me to keep doing my thing so in 20 years hopefully someone else will look at my work the way I looked at all the imagery in the archive – drinking from it the same way I have.”
Taking away a key learning from the archive – that the “The Chuck Taylor is a reflection of simplicity always being more” – the creative tapped Lorenzo Stanford-Vaughan, a friend and London collective NiNE8 member who she believes embodies this ethos. The resulting black and white 35mm photos encapsulating both Monteiro’s fiercely spontaneous spirit and the timelessness of the Chuck Taylor.
Dive further into Monteiro’s creative ethos via the video below and to see her photographs that document her present day perspective on this classic sneaker that will one day be added to Converse’s expansive archive to be explored by generations to come.
Director Hector Aponysus D.O.P. Jack Exton