Converse’s new Stars and Bars sneaker takes its name not from the American flag, but from two of its most quintessential sneakers. A One Star upper has been combined with the Chuck Taylor All-Star’s sole unit, but the hybrid shoe is still more than a sum of its parts. The heel has been chopped off to transform it into a mule, which just so happens to be one of the hottest trends in footwear right now.
A$AP Rocky also redesigned the Vans’ Slip-On as a mule in an unreleased collaboration, a flashpoint for the trend but also proof that existing, venerated sneakers can go backless successfully. And even when mules involve sneakers instead of sharing more resemblance to loafers or sandals, they’re a breath of fresh air within a kicks-crazed landscape.
The Stars and Bars is making its debut in Japan, but the men’s mule renaissance proves the States are also ready for the new silhouette.
But why laces? — The shaggy suede sneaker puts more distinct stripes around Converse’s Star logo, and besides the open ankle and sole, the namesake “bars” are the only deviation from your standard One Star. This continuation of elements includes, strangely enough, shoelaces — which become superfluous when you’re talking about an open-heeled sneaker.
While we can’t expect the laces to provide any extra security for a shoe you can slip on and off, perhaps it provides comfort in the form of familiarity. Not everyone may be ready to dip their toes in a mule as wild as Marni’s furry, Grinch-like shoes, but a backless One Star / All-Star hybrid is a deviation from the norm more easily made.
For now, the only place to get Converse’s new mule is through Atmos Tokyo. Utilizing a proxy service to get them shipped stateside will tack on a nominal fee to the ~$120, but there’s a nontrivial chance the Stars and Bars eventually releases in the U.S. And if it doesn’t, Converse is only missing out on one of the defining trends of the summer.