What do you get when you pair a classic kick company and one of the dopest lyricists to ever do it? You get the sneaker collaboration you didn’t even know you needed. Available starting May 2, Converse and pgLang, a multilingual company created by rapper Kendrick Lamar and longtime collaborator Dave Free in 2020, announced its first collaborative collection – pgLang for Converse. The collection, according to a press release sent to ESSENCE, “embraces the unknown, celebrates what’s established, and looks ahead to what’s yet to be discovered to Create Next. ”
pgLang for Converse also fearlessly reimagines Converse’s most iconic silhouettes – the Chuck 70 and the Pro Leather – and “uses them both as canvases for storytelling and exploration,” according to the statement. The partnership’s design language is said to be rooted in minimalism, which is demonstrated in the subtle details added to the original silhouette just enough to make the difference. From the Pro Leather’s suede upper retouch and pgLang symbol next to the iconic Star Chevron to the pgLang for Converse Chuck 70’s asymmetrical rubber varnish and cryptic text graphics on the insole and outsole, pgLang’s core identity of curiosity, accessibility, and creativity are unapologetically embedded throughout the shoes.
“When pgLang first approached Converse to collaborate, we knew it was a perfect match. Their purpose, vision, and focus on progress perfectly synched with our own values. We were able to get to work quickly after that initial conversation because the partnership was so well aligned,” a Converse spokesperson exclusively told ESSENCE. “The love for Converse’s iconic silhouettes – the Chuck 70 and the Pro Leather – resulted in a collaboration that maintained the classic nature of the sneakers, but refined through the lens of pgLang’s aesthetic.”
In addition to the sneaker collaboration release, pgLang for Converse is releasing an accompanying music video featuring artists Tanna Leone and Selah Marley, which tells the story of two strangers who find an unexpected connection while traversing Los Angeles. “Converse are fans of Tanna and Selah and were thrilled they were the focus of the creative. Tanna is an incredible emerging artist and we were happy to be working with Selah again on a new project. The result is a beautiful video which captures the essence of our entire partnership,” continued the Converse spokesperson to ESSENCE.
In fact, the collaboration and the music video are so intertwined that the laces on the pgLang for Converse collection are “used as the mechanism through which the two characters discover connection in Los Angeles – a city where loneliness can be difficult to elude.” Converse’s short film also included Tanna Leone’s new “One of One” song, which was released via pgLang and Def Jam Recordings.
ESSENCE had the opportunity to speak with model and singer-songwriter Selah herself about her involvement in the collaboration, starring in the creatives directed by Savannah Setten and produced by Jamie Rabineau, and working alongside hip-hop artist and rapper Tanna Leone, pgLang’s most recent signee.
ESSENCE: What did you enjoy the most about the pgLang for Converse collaboration?
Selah: What I thoroughly enjoyed about the pgLang x Converse collaboration was that I received the rare ability to work with people I’ve genuinely admired since my youth and I just feel honored that they choose me as their muse for this project. I also adore the craftsmanship and attention to detail of the design, like the embroidered accents and metal grommets. Something about this sneaker has a minimalist design that feels potent and intentional, which I can really appreciate. But most of all, I appreciate pgLang x Converse for supporting young creatives across the nation and world with a platform to connect and express themselves freely.
ESSENCE: How much creative input did you have when it came to the visuals?
Selah: I definitely think I was able to fully express myself with the team. Whether I was contributing to the outfit styling, or thoroughly discussing my role in the film with the team, I definitely feel like the entire team at pgLang and Converse really took the time to ensure that both myself and my co-star, Santana, felt comfortable and excited about our parts in this project, which is something I genuinely appreciate anytime I walk on a set. I have to say, I really enjoyed working with the teams at Converse and pgLang.
ESSENCE: What was your experience like working with the Converse team?
Selah: Well, since this wasn’t my first time working with the team at Converse, I felt very comfortable arriving on set for this project. I’ve really had a long-standing relationship with the company since my modeling career began as they’ve always been extremely generous and hospitable. Whether they’re inviting me to their headquarters or sending me a care package with their latest drop, every time I work with them it’s an amazing experience and I feel like that feeling can’t help but reverberate through the results we receive.
ESSENCE: Why is it important for large brands like Converse and pgLang to team up with Black creatives and artists?
Selah: I feel like it’s extremely important for Black creatives, artists, and people to be supported from all angles as a means of justice and equity for a particularly brutal past that has left countless beings disenfranchised and overlooked. As we move forward in history, it is imperative that we right the wrongs of the past through proper action with a central focus on equity, empowerment, and edification; and this should be the standard for all as we reimagine our world.