Balls up : the converse blank canvas project

Brough, Dean (2012) Balls up : the converse blank canvas project. [Exhibition/Event]

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Research background:

For decades the Chuck Taylor All Star basketball shoe (first designed in 1921 by Converse, an American shoe company), has been an iconic item of fashion apparel, particularly for the youth oriented market - as a form of self expression and identify, adolescents have for generations been customising their Converse sneakers to create innovative and unique footwear. Although originally developed purely for sport, sneakers gradually crossed over into fashion and the majority of athletic shoes are now purchased for street fashion or leisure wear.

Artisan Gallery (Brisbane), in conjunction with the exhibition Reboot: Function, Fashion and the Sneaker, a history of the sneaker, selected 20 designers to customise and re-design the classic Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars shoe and in doing so highlighted the diversity of forms possible for creative outcomes. As Artisan Gallery Curator Kirsten Fitzpatrick states “the ‘sports show’, designed to coincide with the Olympics, is also about exploring the sneaker as a platform for creativity... and (one) of the more bazaar creations was Dean Brough's deconstructed shoes to make men’s underwear.”

The exhibition ran from 21 June – 16 August 2012:

Research question: Even though the sneaker is a fashion item, it still is fundamentally used for foot protection and historically was aligned to ball sports, principally Basketball - as a fashion designers/practitioner how can I connect (in a whimsical manner) this history of usage for ball sports to the sneaker and re-design and re-use all the physical elements of the shoe to produce a unique wearable item of clothing - the selected medium for this challenge and experimentation was the classic archetypal men’s white boxer shorts.

Artisan Statement BALLS UP - The Converse Sneaker, it’s almost impossible to imagine a better rounded item to maintain peak performance for all types of ball sports. Gentlemen, your other most precious balls also deserve this level of comfort and support to sustain the hard times – the Converse Boxer, balls up, bats out, get ready to play hard.

Research contribution:

The project highlighted some of the unique and diverse creative manifestations that are possible from the classic sneaker. From a fashion practitioners’ perspective, the design outcomes (men’s boxer short made from converse sneakers) demonstrated the strong association to iconic fashion apparel, and recognised the connection to wearability and comfort that is requisite in both footwear and men’s underwear.

Research significance:

The exhibition was viewed by in excess of 1000 people and generated exceptional media coverage and public exposure/impact. As Artisan Gallery Curator Kirsten Fitzpatrick states “20 of Brisbane's best designers were given the opportunity to customise their own Converse Sneakers, with The Converse Blank Canvas Project.” And to be selected in this category demonstrates the calibre of importance for design prominence.

Impact and interest:

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Full-text downloads:

628 since deposited on 21 Dec 2012
229 in the past twelve months

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ID Code: 55974
Item Type: Creative Work (Exhibition/Event)
Refereed: No
Funders: Artisan Gallery, Converse Shoe company
Material: Cloth and rubber
Measurements or Duration: 40cm by 30cm
Number of Pieces: one
Published Source:
Location: From date: To date:
Artisan Gallery, Brisbane 2012-06-21 2012-08-16
Keywords: Fashion, Converse Sneaker, Reboot: Function, Fashion and the Sneaker, Artisan Gallery, Design practice, Men's underwear
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > DESIGN PRACTICE AND MANAGEMENT (120300)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Design
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Dean Brough
Deposited On: 21 Dec 2012 00:07
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2012 00:07

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