Sheila Bridges, a New York-based interior designer known for her distinct furnishing approach, is featured in Converse’s latest collaboration with UNION – a store synonymous with elevated, contemporary fashion and its decades-long mission to support diverse creatives.
Seeing interiors as a means of visual storytelling, Bridges’ most notable visual, the Harlem Toile, is featured for the first time on footwear with the Chuck Taylor All Star – a favorite silhouette of Bridges‘.
A toile — short for “toile de Jouy” — is a printed material with a floral, figure or landscape design, typically seen in upholstery. Illustrating scenes of her experience of African American culture in her hometown by way of the French toile, Bridges’ Harlem Toile image (now preserved at The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum’s permanent wallpaper collection) was born out of a desire to design a pattern that spoke to her personally.
“I didn’t ever see myself represented in any of the designs,” says Bridges, “so, I created my own.”
Exhibiting a duality of expression, the toile plays on African-American stereotypes while also celebrating African-American culture — taking the viewer through scenes of subjects jumping rope, playing basketball, dancing and having picnics, all in 18th-century attire.
The iconic upper of the Chuck Taylor serves as base for Bridges’ design. Printed against a white canvas upper, the Chuck Taylor’s paneling allows each scene to play out across the silhouette. The collection has apparel and accessories, featuring a pullover hoodie and bucket hat adorned with an allover print of the Harlem Toile.
“It’s that indelibly designed shoe,” says UNION owner and operator Chris Gibbs. “It’s that cool shoe. It’s the perfect canvas for intricate stories via print graphics.”
Converse x UNION introduce the Chuck Taylor All Star capsule as part of Converse’s ongoing commitment to support Black creatives by amplifying their voices.
The Converse x UNION Chuck Taylor All Star, pullover hoodie and bucket hat, each featuring Sheila Bridges’ Harlem Toile, is available at converse.com and Phat Soles.