November 7th, 2020 marked a historic moment in American history, as Kamala Harris became the first woman, as well as the first African-American and Indian-American person, to be elected vice-president of the United States. She is also one of the first politicians to use fashion as a means of political expression, most notably by stepping out in Converse Chuck Taylor’s on the campaign trail this year.
As opposed to Golden Goose, Common Projects, and other high-end sneakers, and Converse is a brand that is accessible and familiar to people across the country- regardless of their age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Harris mentioned during an interview with Complex, “whatever your background or whatever language your grandmother spoke, we all at some point or another had our Chucks, right?”
Kamala’s love for this quintessential American shoe not only reinforces her solidarity with the American people but also signifies the type of leader she wants to be. Elizabeth Semmelhack, the senior curator of the Bata Shoe Museum, told The Guardian “the sneakers suggest Harris is a woman of action…they’re acting as the sartorial equivalent of being willing to roll up her sleeves.”
Harris’ affinity for Converse garnered so much attention that she was the inspiration for a political-themed Social Status x Nina Chanel x Converse Chuck Taylor All Star sneaker collaboration. Arriving in a red, white, and blue colorway, the sneakers have “2020” printed on the side and feature custom interchangeable pins touching on subjects ranging from Black Lives Matter, LBGTQ rights, and climate change. In support of the HBCU community and in partnership with Complex, Social Status donated all the pairs of this exclusive collaboration to students of Solefood Digestible Sneaker Culture, a course taught by Dr. Jemayne L. King at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Fashion has always served as a vehicle for political expression, and Harris’ unconventional shoe choice symbolizes her role as a trailblazer in the political world. Hazel Clark, professor of fashion studies at Parsons School of Design and co-author of Fashion and Everyday Life: London and New York said “[People] have opportunities to make what they wear a part of their character and personality and message, and I think Kamala Harris does that very well.”
Cover image courtesy of NY Times