While on the campaign trail last year, women throughout the world wore Converse Chuck Taylors and pearls in support of then VP-elect Kamala Harris, as a nod to her signature look. This trend — and Harris becoming the first Black VP in U.S. history — was particularly inspiring to the founding trio of Claima Stories, the podcast that highlights inspiring BIPOC creatives.
“Right after the inauguration, my mother was like, ‘I see you guys work with Converse. What’s up with Kamala Harris and Chucks and pearls?'” BJ Frogozo, co-creator of Claima Stories, told FN. “We have this group chat and we had a screenshot of everyone’s mom asking about the Chucks and pearls movement. We were like, ‘This is something that’s got legs, this is something we want to tell more stories around.'”
For podcast host Bimma Williams, a footwear industry veteran with stops at Nike, Saucony and Reebok, the Chucks and pearls movement allowed for his mother — long skeptical of her son’s obsession with sneakers since childhood — to see that shoes can serve more of a purpose than just function or fashion.
“I was that sneaker kid where my mom was like, ‘I don’t know why you waste so much time buying sneakers, you can’t do anything with this.’ To see this movement now of breaking barriers, Chucks and pearls, and getting a message from my mom saying, ‘Have you heard about this movement?’ and then texts about her buying sneakers, it was a full-circle moment. It showed that sneakers were never just sneakers, they were always a storytelling vehicle,” Williams explained.
Beyond the Harris storytelling, the trio also has a personal connection to the Chuck 70 that began at the African American Footwear Forum in August 2019.
“We got this opportunity to host conversations on stage and we were all in the Chuck 70s. At the time, we weren’t even a podcast,” Williams explained. “From that moment, we started to do the podcast and as we started growing, we ended up getting linked up with Converse.”
With a narrative around “Chucks and Pearls” in mind, the Claima Stories team aligned with Converse to design a clean, yet simple version of the shoe, delivering the uppers in a pearl hue that sits atop a matching midsole, with the Claima logo on the lateral side of the upper and the signature patch from the heritage athletic brand on the medial.
Although Claima Stories fans are sure to want to get their hands on a pair, you will not see this look hit retail. Only 50 pairs have been created, and they will be given to the podcast guests throughout the season.
But fans of the podcast will soon have some Claima Stories merch to purchase.
“Our host shows up on camera all the time, is always visible with a hat on, and we all wear hats a lot. It’s something we wanted to move forward with and to see if we could create a hat, or any sort of merch, that represents Claima,” said Adrian Anaya, co-creator of Claima Stories. “The point is to have a giveback, with a percentage of sales going to Know Your Rights, as a way to address the social justice movement.”
The guests featured on season two of Claima Stories include designer Melody Ehsani, Staple Design and Reed Space founder Jeff Staple, surrealist photographer Elise Swopes and several others.
Today, the trio debuted the latest episode, a conversation with NikeLab design director Nate Jobe. In this podcast, Jobe shared stories on a number of topics, including working with famed designer Virgil Abloh.