Stylist and photographer, Jordan Vickors, heads stateside to shoot Alex James and the rest of the team at PLEASURES to mark the launch of their collaborative Converse Pro Leather.
Following on from our exploration of Converse Pro Leather with rising styling star Jordan Vickors, the multi-hyphenate creative headed out to LA to visit Alex James and the rest of the team at cult-streetwear label, PLEASURES, to mark the launch of their collaborative take on the iconic Converse silhouette.
Shot on the PLEASURES home-turf in the City of Angels, Jordan and Alex dive deep on the inspiration behind their iteration of the Pro Leather, the experience of collaborating with one of the planet's most iconic sneaker institutions, and why the LA creative scene is second to none.
What was the design intention for the shoe and how did the collaboration come about?
We grew up wearing Converse. I can safely say they have been a consistent part of our uniform throughout the past 3 decades. When we started PLEASURES in 2015, we would naturally style our look books with Converse. The natural progression lead into a partnership. When the team presented us with the Pro Leather, we were stoked on the opportunity.
How did you blend the Pleasures aesthetic with Converse to honour both halves of the partnership?
Coming into a design meeting, we intended to create a shoe that reminded us of the grimy bathrooms that we’ve come across while traveling the world. Converse was very flexible in letting us do what we wanted. The printed graphics on Tyvek encased in PU was a concept that we first introduced in 2016 via a PLEASURES tote bag. The evolution of the design translated onto the shoe perfectly.
How did working with Converse differ from previous collaborations you have been a part of and what has the experience of working with a sneaker institution as iconic as Converse been like?
Hands down one of the best experiences we’ve had thus far. Having a major corporation give us full creative freedom was a dream come true.
You often speak about how LA inspires you. The pro-leather shows feels very ‘LA’ in ways. Do you feel the LA-influence on your re-make of this shoe?
LA is laid back vibes all day every day. Not to sound cliche but the weather and the weed create this chill environment. Our take down of the Pro Leather is a shoe that can be worn with ease anytime.
Dr. J (Julius Erving) described the intersection between basketball and music and how they influence one another. Similarly, you describe PLEASURES as a music-focused brand and acknowledge the importance of its influence on your designs. When creating this shoe, what outside influences did you draw on?
I grew up in the tri-state area and got to experience the best of metal, punk, and hardcore. Vlad grew up in LA and lived through nu-metal, house, and the rave scene. We infused both of our past experiences into our brand DNA and this shoe!
People often describe you as having quite a punk approach to fashion, what's the story behind the 'stop lying to yourself' typography?
We are living in a society where people put on a facade via social media and lead fake lives. We want people to get back to reality and focus on themselves.
What did you want to say with this collaboration & why Pro Leather?
I remember my dad wearing the Pro Leather back in the day. It’s pretty cool to work with a model with such long standing history.
Did you feel pressure to switch things up to put your own stamp on such a classic silhouette?
There wasn’t any pressure because everyone on the Converse side was so chill and accommodating. They let us create without objection.
You tend not to work on a particular theme or design direction as the main focus of your collections, it’s more of a piece by piece collection, why does this work best for you and your team?
Everyone is so hellbent on working with themes you lose your intended focus. We like to design freely and create from a true place of passion and dedication.
Do you think Los Angles is at the core of your design/Inspiration?
Yes If I hadn’t moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and linked with Vlad; this brand would have never happened. The openness of the Los Angeles creative community has been truly amazing.
What’s next for you and the Pleasures team?
We are looking to present more music focused projects in 2020. Concerts, collaborations, art direction, and more.