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How Turnstile Designed the Band's First-Ever Converse Sneaker Collaboration

Alexis Gross

A few months ago, Turnstile—the Grammy-nominated, genre-defying hardcore band—was in the studio in the quartet’s hometown of Baltimore. There was an extra air of excitement on this particular day, and it had nothing to do with music. The group had just received the first finished samples of their signature sneakers with Converse. “We were eating lunch while thoroughly inspecting every inch of the shoes and freaking out,” recalled guitarist Pat McCrory. The band had been tapped to give their flip on two iconic Converse silhouettes—the Chuck 70 and the One Star Pro—and after months of work, they had finally arrived.

Inspired by the dreamy, Schauss-pink cover art from 2021’s Glow On—the LP that propelled the band further into the mainstream—each sneaker feels like a Turnstile song for your feet. The band’s spin on the Chuck 70 features a black monochromatic silhouette, off-black translucent details, and a reflective printed graphic. It’s sleek, simple, and delightfully to the point. The One Star design, meanwhile, sings a little louder: the white leather base is offset by a pair of glitter-filled pink stars and embossed song lyrics on the sole. When the sneakers were finally released last week, the band’s fans were surprised and delighted—even if the collaboration was a long time coming.

<cite class="credit">Alexis Gross</cite>
Alexis Gross

“We’ve had friends at Converse for a long time now. Even in our early days of touring, they would send a box before our trip to make sure we had shoes for the road,” said Brendan Yates, the band’s vocalist. “Doing one of our own was always a fun what-if thing that eventually became a reality. A full circle moment for us.”

The lineage of Chuck Taylors in punk rock—or any other genre of loud and brash music, for that manner—runs deep. (Think Sid Vicious, Kurt Cobain, and Patti Smith, to name a few.) The sneaker is as intertwined with the lore of the Ramones as skinny jeans and beat-up leather jackets. Everyone from influential designer Jonathan Anderson to Japanese streetwear legend Hiroshi Fujiwara has rendered their own takes on the iconic silhouette in recent years. Turnstile feels tailor made to meet this moment, with a combination of punk ethos and personal style that only comes around once in a generation. After all, this is the band who showed up at last year’s Grammys in everything from a vintage Bad Brains tee and Supreme to Virgil Abloh-designed Louis Vuitton and Our Legacy. It takes a confident group to color outside the lines of what is expected of a hardcore band—and do it time and time again.

<cite class="credit">Alexis Gross</cite>
Alexis Gross

“We have no experience designing a shoe, but we also know what we like, and being given the opportunity to do so was an honor,” explained frontman Yates. “The shoes themselves were great, but the idea of what it represents and the small memento that became of it was the special part.”

The subtle details the band added resulted in two highly wearable shoes, elevating two of Converse’s most-worn silhouettes to rarefied collector’s status. “We had an explicit goal of creating a shoe that checked boxes for both a Turnstile enjoyer who might have no interest in sneakers and a sneaker enjoyer who had never heard of Turnstile,” said drummer Daniel Fang. “I think our approach to designing a shoe is not unlike the process of creating music.”

<cite class="credit">Alexis Gross</cite>
Alexis Gross

For Turnstile, that means honoring their artistic whims and creative impulses, the type of left-of-center decisions that have propelled them to where they are today. As the band has grown in stature, the distractions, expectations, and pressures around them have swirled with greater intensity. Still, Turnstile continues to double down, bringing their music’s high-energy soul and spokeshave precision into everything they do. And it’s resonating: Both sneakers have already sold out on the Converse website. (If you hurry, you can still find them at select retailers like Zumiez and END Clothing.)

“As the band grows, life can become more complicated, but it doesn’t mean we have to be more inhibited,” Fang said. “If anything, growing in age and practice should make it easier to think, Two stars on the One Star model… and fill them with pink glitter? Yes and yes!

Originally Appeared on GQ


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