Rise owner Chase Ceparano believes storytelling is paramount when crafting collaborations. The head of the Huntington, N.Y.-based boutique has exhibited his storytelling abilities with past releases, most recently his pair of Puma drops titled “New York Is For Lovers,” bringing awareness to HIV/AIDS using the brand’s Blaze of Glory as the medium to do so.
His latest collaboration is with up-and-coming Brandblack, and it’s called “Desert Mirage,” which is inspired by Ceparano’s time in the U.S. Air Force, using the brand’s Mirage silhouette.
The shoe — limited to 240 pairs — arrives at Rise on Thursday at 5 p.m. ET and via rise45.com on Friday at noon ET and will retail for $150. Ceparano shared with Footwear News the significance of the shoe’s name, why he chose to work with Brandblack, and why the time is now to share this story.
What’s the significance of the name, “Desert Mirage”?
Ceparano: Titling the project “Desert Mirage” was sort of a play on words; it includes the title of the original silhouette, but simultaneously alludes to the feeling of being deployed in the Middle East during my enlistment in the U.S. Air Force. Being in the desert envelops and surrounds you. Over time, the landscape begins to look like an endless plain of sand and rock; spaces start to blend together. You could travel miles and the terrain would appear like you never moved an inch.
What makes Brandblack such an attractive label to work with?
Ceparano: For many sneaker fans, this may be their first introduction to Brandblack, but the involvement with their team was crucial for many reasons. They were willing to go the distance and develop a story that was more complex than the typical collaboration.
Why did you choose Brandblack’s Mirage silhouette to reimagine?
Ceparano: We needed a clean silhouette that didn’t have much social expectation or history to it, and Brandblack allowed me to take one of their signature sneakers — the Mirage — and pare it down to the very rawest version of the shoe. We needed to tell this story totally and completely without assumption or expectation. Brandblack offered us all of that.
Why is the story behind the shoe important to tell now?
Ceparano: I spent four years serving in the Air Force and two tours of duty in the Middle East. My experience there was better than some others, but everyone who has served shares memories of that place. Working in footwear, I knew I could deliver a part of that experience in a shoe. At a time when we conveniently forget that these wars are still being waged — officially and unofficially — it’s important not only to remember that it’s happening but also to pay homage to those doing the fighting. Thousands of soldiers have gone to that desert, and sadly some have not come back. We should always remember that. I believe that even if everyone doesn’t share these memories, they can support their meaning and remember that the fight still wages — even if you can’t see it.