How Converse's New Silhouette Represents the Evolution of Women's Footwear
We spoke to the brand’s Global Product Merchandising Director for Women’s Footwear to find out more.
Converse is a brand that’s all about its female consumer. With a focus on continual innovation and versatility and comfort at its core, the brand aims to grow as she grows, and support her every need, no matter how much it changes.
For this reason, Converse’s newest release, the Run Star Legacy CX, promises to be its most impactful yet. Designed for her, for all, the silhouette offers unrivalled durability and versatility, while still having the ability to transition from one place to the next. “We wanted to provide distortion and comfort as well as reimagining our icon,” Converse’s Global Product Merchandising Director, Tamara Odom, tells Hypebae.
The new sneaker acts as a response to the needs of Converse’s female consumer, one who is constantly changing and requires a shoe that changes with her. “Back in the day, it was like, if you were the skater girl, that’s who you were every single day of your life, but it’s not like that anymore,” Odom adds. “We have to make sure that we can provide solutions every single day. That is something that we know has shifted over the years, [our need] to make sure that she has options.”
Odom has worked at Converse for 14 years, beginning her journey as an Associate Product Line Manager and working everywhere from Product Creation to Merchandising. Now, she’s the Global Product Merchandising Director for Women’s Footwear, responsible for everything to do with the brand’s female consumer. We caught up with her to find out more about the brand’s latest innovation, the Run Star Legacy CX, and Converse’s plans for servicing its female audience in the future.
In your 14 years with Converse so far, what changes have you noticed in terms of your consumer?
The one key theme, really, is access. When I first started, it was before social media was so huge. It existed, but it wasn’t huge and the ability for our consumers to have access to all the things all the time, has been something that has certainly changed over the past decade or so. It has its benefits and its disadvantages, but I think for us at Converse, we are consumer obsessed, and like to live and breathe everything consumer. We want to make sure that we have them at the forefront of everything that we do. So as they evolve, we evolve, and we’ve been pretty successful in doing that. As we look over the past couple of years, with a global pandemic, being at home and such, that has definitely opened us up to even more access and more shifts in how we work, how we shop and how we dress.
What about the female consumer?
I think about this often because this whole idea of “beauty is pain” is just something that is now a thing of the past. We don’t want to be in pain anymore. We want to be comfortable, both emotionally and physically. Over the past couple of years, we’ve realised that our consumer, and us as well, we’re not sacrificing any of comfort, whether it be physical or emotional, for beauty, or for fashion. There should be all those things in one, and we should be able to provide options for her to not have to sacrifice any of them. That comfort is I think what is super important and something that we will continue to take into account as we move forward.
Speaking of options, Converse just launched its new sneaker, the Run Star Legacy CX. What can you tell us about it?
We were in a space where we wanted to provide distortion and comfort as well as kind of reimagining our icon. It would be remiss of me to not shout out our awesome design squad that worked on this model, too. They’ve been incredible in making sure that we continue to push the boundaries of form and proportion, but also ensuring that we bring the comfort that she looks for. That same design squad worked on the Run Star Motion which was launched last year, and that was definitely pushing the edges of form and function and comfort for us as a brand.
Bringing in the Legacy as a new member of that Run Star family was definitely a way to maintain our authenticity in that space, but also push us forward in different areas. With the distortion that we have of the midsole with the rubber pinstripes as well as the CX foam in our sock liner and the midsole, it’s so comfortable. No detail is left untouched and we’re constantly ensuring that the stuff that we’re creating provides comfort.
Outside of comfort, how would you say that the new silhouette incorporates feedback from those who wear your products?
Probably in terms of bringing the ability for versatility and providing a model that you can wear all day long, one that transitions with you from work to play. I have this idea in my mind that if I can’t wear sneakers, I’m not going. I think that it’s important to make sure that our consumers are able to wear the sneakers with everything, and have the versatility to express themselves across whatever different mindsets that they might have.
Going back to trends, we’re seeing a lot more exaggerated silhouettes and really chunky, platform footwear within the fashion space. What are some of the trends that you’ve seen developing from a product and technical perspective?
I think that this kind of notion of taking risks with form and stance and proportion is something we’re seeing a lot of consumers adopting. Not only is it on the internet or on the runway, but you’re actually seeing it on people in the streets. We’re making sure that we continue to push form, stance and proportion without sacrificing that emotional and physical comfort and benefits that we at Converse definitely hold close to our hearts.
Does the concept of overconsumption play into the design process? How has sustainable thinking influenced the design of the Run Star Legacy, specifically?
The notion of sustainability is always at the forefront of our designers’ minds. Whether it’s through creating something durable so that the consumer doesn’t have to buy a new pair every month, or if it means being more intentional about the types of materials that are being sourced. It’s definitely something that we constantly have at the forefront, knowing that our consumer cares about that as well. We want to ensure that we provide options in which they have kind of various degrees of sustainable product for them. The new Legacy doesn’t have any specific recycled materials in it, but I think it’s more about the consumption aspect. It’s quite a durable model, it’s comfortable and you can wear it all day.
How does Converse plan to continue servicing its womenswear audience?
We just continue to be obsessed with her, but it’s not just women that are adopting the models that we’re creating. We definitely have her in mind, but it’s also not exclusive in the space, everyone can wear them. We’re back outside now so we can talk to consumers, we can see what consumers are wearing, what matters to them, what trends are emerging and how Converse can provide solutions to the things that they are needing. Whether that be from a new creation standpoint or from a CGM, we want to make sure that when the consumer is online or in the store, they have what they need.
On the other hand, our consumer is constantly changing. Back in the day, it was like, if you were the skater girl, that’s who you were every single day of your life, but it’s not like that anymore. Now it’s like on Monday she’s skater, Tuesday she’s inspired by y2k, on Wednesday she’s workwear. But it’s all the same consumer and we have to make sure that we can provide solutions every single day. That is something that we know has shifted over the years, [our need] to make sure that she has options.
What are Converse’s plans for the future?
The Run Star Legacy CX, of course, we will continue to offer new materials, graphics and stories for that model. We also introduced a new upper on our Lugged 2.0 family, the new Lugged 2.0x High-Top CC, which is a beautiful expression of a boot that is functional and water-resistant. It’s really dope, and again, we’re not sacrificing style or fashion for comfort and function. The Run Star Hike is out there as well as the legacy CX and the motion, which you’ll soon see.