I love Converse shoes and have several pairs of Chuck Taylors and lament my giving away a pair of One Stars several years ago to GLONO co-founder Sabu. So it’s with mixed feelings that I read about the announcement of a limited edition Kurt Cobain signature shoe from the now-Nike owned Converse.
The shoe is set to feature Cobain’s name, lyrics, writing, and signature to mark the shoe’s 100th anniversary. The Cobain shoe is the latest in a line of subversive celebrity signature shoes from Converse. Other artists featured include Ian Curtis, Sid Vicious, and apparently Hunter S. Thompson, though I can’t find any evidence that Thompson’s shoe was ever actually developed and released.
Converse apparently made a better offer than Doc Martin to Courtney Love in securing Cobain’s likeness for this shoe line. When an ad campaign by Doc Martin appeared that featured Cobain in a pair of their iconic boots, Love released a statement in which she said it was “outrageous that a company is allowed to commercially gain from such a despicable use of her husband’s picture.” I guess it’s not as despicable if she’s getting a cut of the action.
So, the question is: is this cool or does it suck? Is it cool that once marginal artists (Cobain excluded) are now being honored left and right by mainstream culture? Or does it suck that subversive culture is consistently co-opted and neutered for corporate profit?