The All Star Pro BB: Why Converse Stepped Back on Court
Converse have officially stepped off the bench. Expanding on a rich, century–long basketball legacy, the All Star Pro BB combines vintage flare with technological nous, the minimalist sneaker the first to hit the hardwood for Converse since 2012. To celebrate the release of the Converse All Star Pro BB ‘Flames’, we linked up with Brandis Russell, VP of Global Footwear at Converse, and Eric Avar, VP of Innovation at Nike, to find out why the All Star finally returned to the game.
How have you seen the industry progress?
[Eric Avar] Fundamentally, we solve problems for athletes, and for the body in motion, which we've been doing from the get go. It’s at the core of what we’ve always tried to do – ever since the original Chuck Taylor. The only difference is that the materials, technologies and methods continue to evolve. The variables or ingredients may change but, fundamentally, what we’re trying to do is help make the athlete better.
We’ve been waiting so long for Converse basketball to come to life. Why is now the right time to return?
[Brandis Russell] It felt like it was the perfect time to relaunch in the basketball space. The collaboration with Nike makes it even more powerful and poetic. The innovation has continued to advance, so the marriage of these two brands is the perfect time for us to give a different generation of consumers access to the brand in a very exciting and interesting way.
Do both brands [Converse and Nike] share weight when it comes to the design process?
[BR] It’s truly a partnership. When you put the consumer and the athlete at the centre of all the decisions and choices you make, everything starts to flow thoughtfully and respectfully from that place. With the consumer in mind, what we’re trying to do is solve the question: ‘How are we going to inspire them?’ That becomes the source of how decisions are made, and the conversations the experts have at Nike and Converse. We bring all of the collective genius together – development, designers, product marketers; it’s truly a partnership between the two brands, and everything sits with the consumer at the centre.
As part of the design process, did you also turn to the athlete?
[BR] One of the things that we looked at is how the game of basketball has evolved. It’s become this sort of positionless style of play. The team worked really hard to put the athlete at the forefront of our design considerations. The All Star Pro BB is really for athletes looking for versatility with the products they wear.
[EA] Today’s basketball player is evolving and becoming more versatile and more fluid. They’re playing almost all positions. Basketball has become very multi-dimensional. We really tried to pull the best learnings from working with a whole host of athletes.
Talk to us about the React inclusion in the All Star Pro BB.
[EA] The React is one of our highest performing foams. It’s very lightweight, responsive and comfortable. We thought it was a great starting point. We used the React technology drop-in midsole configuration so the foam is right up against your foot. By doing this, we eliminate the number of layers traditionally present in a footwear construction. We then designed a lightweight, high performance, high traction cup sole, which works in conjunction with the side walls of the drop-in midsole to give that support.
Is the React tech a standout for the All Star?
[EA] For sure, but even with the upper, we focused on how we could create a modern-day canvas. We used Nike’s quad mesh, which is actually featured in a few select performance products like the Nike Adapt BB. It’s a very lightweight material. It has the unique ability to both conform to the anatomy of your foot, and then also really lock down to give you support.