For most of today’s sneakerheads, the industry is dominated by just three brands. New Balance, which has enjoyed unprecedented mainstream popularity over the past two years; Adidas, which maintains a strong second spot despite the Yeezy brouhaha over the past year; and, of course, leader Nike (and Jordan Brand), which has dominated the market for several decades now.
This wasn’t always the case, however, especially in the highly competitive basketball market. If you've seen the movie “Air,” you'd know there was another brand that run roughshod over its competitors all the way up to the 1980s. I’m talking about Converse, of course.
With all of basketball’s top players endorsing the brand—including Julius "Dr.J" Erving, Isiah Thomas and Kevin McHale—the brand had a stranglehold on the market. But its star soared to new heights upon the release of the Converse Weapon, with players from both sides of one of the NBA's fiercest rival teams endorsing the shoe: Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. It took the unprecedented partnership of Nike and his Airness for another brand to break Converse’s hold on the market.
Now for the first time in close to 40 years, the Weapon is back, in a collab with Japanese streetwear brand Fragment. The question is: Is the hype enough for it to be your weapon of choice in this day and age?
I admit I've never managed to examine an original Converse Weapon so I can't comment on how close this re-release is to the original. But materials on this version are superb, with the leather being even more supple than Jordan 1s. Build quality is excellent. Looking at pictures of the originals, those looked to be even softer and seemed to lose shape after one wear. I don’t see that happening with these revivals, although creases are to be expected and possibly even desired. That being said, the rest of the shoe is also high quality and, surprisingly, comfortable too!
Just to be clear—these aren't the OG colorway but they sure look like they could be. The Fragment blue used, along with the black accents, and "aged" midsole just work, giving both the vintage vibe that’s the rage these days without making the shoe look dated. The Fragment lightning on the heel is subtle—as I feel it should be for this particular release since people need to appreciate the design in all its original glory given it’s the first time we've seen it in close to 40 years! To nitpick, however: the toebox, looking down seems a bit weird.
Here's the problem. It’s a beautiful shoe to look at. It's obvious it’s a high cut design. But while I feel I can get away wearing AJ1 highs, these seem to be too high cut for some reason, and don't fit well for my personal style. But that’s it basically. I’m sure others would look great in them. Pair them with what you'd usually wear with your AJ1 Obsidians and you’re good to go.
Given that the sneaker market is still in its bear phase, you can grab these from your friendly neighborhood retailer or from resellers. Which means for the quality you're getting, it’s actually priced very well.
Do you know that hotdog and drink stand you used to go to as a kid? The one that closed down years ago and has left you missing the hotdog sandwich and mango juice you used to love as a treat (Ahem, hello Orange Julius)? Now imagine the store just reopened and is offering the delectable combo! It may taste a little different from what you're used to but hey, aren’t you just happy it’s back?
[An old school sneaker enthusiast, Rhobee Pilares enjoys street fashion, toys, cars, food and the excitement of busy, bustling cities. You can often catch him at coffee shops reading on the latest media trends. IG @rhobeelicious.]
Photos by Rhobee Pilares