To Kemar, a graphic designer and DJ from London, a classic is, “something that is timeless and that can be taken by so many people from different backgrounds and disciplines and be made into something that means something to them.”
The Converse Pro Leather is the epitome of this. First released in 1976, it became the sneaker du jour for mythical basketball players like Michael Jordan and Dr.J. Both tapped the hi-top for its clean, white, leather silhouette and subtle yet stylish orange, cut-out star branding. Off-court, the shoe found a home on the streets, where new colourways piqued the interest of R&B musicians and cultural leaders – each took its classic design and made it their own.
Along with three other creatives, The Face took Kemar to Converse’s snowy Boston headquarters to sift through their archive and trace the shoe’s position at the forefront of style and music – two pillars that inform the designer’s graphic process.
“One thing that stuck out to me was that nothing really stayed the same,” says the designer on the Converse archive. With no limit to Converse’s creative output, the brand’s boundary-pushing design naturally spilled into popular culture, making the Pro Leather significant to creatives, sport types and stylers alike.
The deep cultural and sporting importance of the Pro Leather inspired the the 27-year-old in creating the motion graphics seen in the film below. An ode to the trainer’s basketball roots, the designer deconstructed its form into abstract, stitch-like structures that nod to the shoe’s physicality and function on the court. “I made the graphic move in a forward motion,” the creative explains, “to reflect the ever-changing and forward thinkingness of Converse.” An ethos that has enabled the Pro Leather to progress into 2020 and mirrors Kemar’s own creative mantra.
Director Hector Aponysus D.O.P. Jack Exton