This Influencer Channels His Dominican Roots for a Bold Converse Shoe

Converse has once again teamed up with sneaker social media standout Ray Polanco Jr. to create a new-look Chuck Taylor. And like the first silhouette released in 2018, the influencer tapped his Dominican Republican roots for inspiration.

For the latest shoe, Polanco — who frequently talks sneakers on Foot Locker’s social media platforms and has a segment on the Twitch sneaker show “Fresh Stock” — dressed the iconic Chuck Taylor with a collage of hand-drawn cultural images atop a white upper. The images are different on each shoe and will not fall on the same place on the shoe in different sizes. The imagery was inspired by his experiences growing up as a Dominican in New York City and Converse’s do-it-yourself culture. The look is completed with a white midsole with red foxing tape and a blue strip in the middle, which is a nod to the Dominican Republic flag.

Ray Polanco Jr. x Converse Chuck Taylor "Puro Platano 2"
Ray Polanco Jr. x Converse Chuck Taylor “Puro Platano 2”
CREDIT: Ray Polanco Jr.

“As a storyteller, I believe sneakers are the perfect canvas to communicate a message because we all wear some kind of footwear. Last year, I wanted to get the world to know more about Dominicans beyond just the colors of our flag and I thought food was the best way to do that, which led to transforming the Chuck Taylor into a Platano. This year, I wanted to connect on a deeper level with the ‘Puro Platano’ story by collaging distinct images from my experience growing up Dominican in New York City.

“A lot of the shoe is inspired by family: my dad playing dominoes at the bodega with his friends, my mom wearing rolos in her hair after the beauty salon, and things like that.” he said. “Shout out to my sister who would cop Chucks in every color on Fordham Road in the Bronx back in the day. Beyond my story, I feel like anyone who grew up in NYC will connect with at least one thing on the shoe and hopefully other people in different cities can relate, too.”

The Chuck Taylor “Puro Platano 2” arrives via Converse.com and at the brand’s Soho NYC and Boston LoveJoy Wharf locations on Sept. 19.

Polanco Jr. has also tapped a pair of artists — Paloma Montoya and Don Rimx — who contributed graphics and worked with the brand to build a design “toolkit” that shows the potential of the Converse By You customization platform. The sneakers, dubbed the Converse by LatinX collection, will also be available Sept. 19.

Ray Polanco Jr. x Converse Chuck Taylor "Puro Platano 2"
Another look at the Ray Polanco Jr. x Converse Chuck Taylor “Puro Platano 2.”
CREDIT: Ray Polanco Jr.
Ray Polanco Jr. x Converse Chuck Taylor "Puro Platano 2"
The Ray Polanco Jr. x Converse Chuck Taylor “Puro Platano 2” on foot.
CREDIT: Juan Veloz

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