1. Do you have a personal story about the Chuck Taylor you can tell us?
What is your relationship to the shoe?
As early as I can remember I’ve had a pair of Chucks in my closet. I’d say I
have a pretty serious personal affinity with the shoe. In early 2000 when I
decided to experiment with the “Dr Romanelli” brand, I chose to rework a
collection of Chucks as my first project. I had started collecting zippers
around that time so I manifested a unique hybrid Chuck
Taylor with patchwork panels and zippers integrated on the tongue.
2. This is your third (?) collaboration with Converse, how did you
approach this differently than in past collabs?
It’s actually my fifth. This collab was inspired by the last “USA” Cup Sole
drop. Americana plays a major role in the Dr. Romanelli brand. I’ve always
appreciated the classic Army vs. Navy rivalry our nation has celebrated
since 1890, when the two Academy football squads first faced off. That said,
I approached the Army vs. Navy release differently in that there are two
parts to the equation: Beetle Bailey as Army vs. Popeye as Navy. Although
they take on the personality of two of the world’s most famous cartoon
characters, the shoes are designed to evoke our nation’s core military
divisions. They are a quintessential piece of a larger collection and
an even larger story.
3. What was your inspiration behind the design and can you tell us a bit
about the cartoon characters you are working with and how they came to be
muses for Converse shoes?
My inspiration was the classic Army vs. Navy rivalry. Each shoe pays
particular tribute to textiles and classic designs from their own branch of
the service. The Beetle Chuck salutes a classic Vietnam-era jungle boot
while the Popeye Chuck captures the essence of sailor man via the authentic,
rich wool upper and rope laces. The interiors of both shoes are lined with
vintage cartoon strips – completing the connection back to their respective
We always talk about America as the land of opportunity, where anyone can
achieve their dreams. In that same tradition, Popeye and
Beetle Bailey both went from humble beginnings to become two of the most
iconic characters in comic art history. Popeye began life as a walk-on
character in “Thimble Theatre,” Elzie Segar’s popular comic strip about
Olive Oyl and her family. The public liked him so much that he quickly
emerged as the star of the strip. Beetle started out as a college cut-up and
it wasn’t until creator Mort Walker put him in the Army that his popularity
soared. Today, both of these characters are loved the world over.
4. Collaborations are about bringing together things that fit naturally
and yield inspiring results. These collaborations are clearly great looking
shoes. Can you tell me your thoughts on why this is a great collaboration?
It’s clearly a great collab – first and foremost because of the epic history
all three of these brands share, with Converse dating back to the early
1900s, Popeye to 1929 and Beetle to 1950. Additionally, all three have
strong American roots and there is something special about that.
The collab seems right to me; it’s one of those drops that just makes sense.