Samuel Ross On A-Cold-Wall* x Converse Aeon Active CX, Virgil Abloh & More

There’s probably one single sneaker you think of when you hear the brand Converse mentioned. The canvas sneaker, in high and low-top form, has been worn since the 1920s for a reason. Its simplicity and versatility have made it timeless. It also means that, in most cases, it’s the sneaker you will see collaborators who work with the brand add their special touch to. That sneaker is the Chuck Taylor. But A-Cold-Wall* founder Samuel Ross is not just remixing a pair of Chucks for his latest project with Converse. He will be debuting an all-new silhouette: the Aeon Active CX.

“This piece sits at the top end of the partnership, which is looking at how we can leverage tooling and materials from within the Converse material portfolio,” Ross says in reference to his latest design. “I see the Aeon piece we’ve done as a directional shoe where you’ll see a trend trickle after the same way as when the Vomero dropped. The amount of shoes that came out after that course of four years, which had either heels or different shapes, that was almost like a trend cycle they brought forth.”

Ross’ newest creation is the latest chapter of his collaborative history with Converse that kicked off in 2020 with the Chuck Taylor All-Star Lugged High, a rugged take on the Chuck Taylor with a plastic cage and lugged sole. The Aeon Active CX takes a much more unorthodox approach than just adding new elements to an existing silhouette. Its laceless upper is composed of materials like perforated Cordura ripstop nylon, mesh, and reflective 3M. A 3D-printed heel counter is laser-etched with the A-Cold-Wall* logo. The upper is covered in asymmetrical layers and sits atop a thick CX-cushioned midsole composed of recycled Crater foam. Ross says the low-top caters to a category he refers to as “luxury sportswear.” During the pandemic, he moved back to his hometown of Brixton, London. The move heavily influenced where he would like to position A-Cold-Wall* in the marketplace moving forward. This Converse collab is the next step into the luxury sportswear arena.

Image via Converse

The Aeon Active CX will debut on April 6 exclusively through A-Cold-Wall’s web store before arriving at Converse.com on April 12 in a “Micro Chip/Healing Jade/Black” colorway. Ross describes this debut look as a concerted effort to expand beyond ACW’s usual design language. He compares its gray upper with a bright orange liner and jade-colored midsole to a Yeezy color scheme from the 2000s. The colors also nod to Harajuku and Shibuya.

“I wanted to produce something which felt visually lighter for A-Cold-Wall*, visually a little bit more experimental,” says Ross.

The second colorway will hit ACW’s site on May 8 with a wider release set for May 12. Ross says the “Black/Black/Apple Green” colorway is more in line with ACW’s traditionally industrial look and color palette. Its mostly black upper is updated with subtle hits of green and a slate gray panel on the midsole. The designer opted to dip-dye his personal pair and make them completely black. He says that while he knows some people may choose to keep them as-is, he hopes that others will follow his lead and use them as a starting point for their own DIY creations.

Another creator who always took the opportunity to innovate with his collaborations is someone that Ross knows well, the late Virgil Abloh. Ross has known Abloh since 2012, when he was initially brought on to work under him as his first design assistant. Ross says the two had many conversations about footwear design over the years and calls him “a genius of a generation.” Given their history together, the A-Cold-Wall* founder’s name is one that many people have floated as a potential successor to Abloh at Louis Vuitton. While he couldn’t speak specifically on that possibility, Ross did speak, albeit vaguely, on the prospect of overseeing a major fashion house at some point in his career.

“I think the objective is always about communicating to as many people as possible,” says Ross. “And I think there are numerous ways that can take shape.”

Read our conversation with Ross regarding his latest sneaker collab, the legacy of Abloh, his goals for the future of A-Cold-Wall*, and more below.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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