This is a guest post by Wesley Harris exclusively for The Black Fives Blog.

Rens 1933 All Star

The Converse Rens 1933 All Star.

I got a chance to check out the new Converse 2008 Century Collection at their special sneak peak down in SoHo the other day. The new collection features its own Black Fives line, which had some intriguing pieces.

I loved the concept that Converse created for the new Black Fives line, as they seemed to embrace the history behind the shoes and stay true to that in some of their re-creations.

I think the one shoe that really sticks out for me from this line is the Rens 1933 All Star, which is a very accurate replication of the exact shoe that the Harlem Rens wore starting in the early 1920s.

The story behind this shoe is cool in itself. According to the people over at Converse, one of their execs found a lady in New England who was selling an original size 9.5 on eBay. He bid on the shoe and the rest is history.

Century Collection

The Rens All Star Revolution from Converse’s Century Collection.

These black hi-tops were probably the most practical kicks from the Black Fives styles. They obviously have that classic Chuck Taylor look — as most Cons do — but the slightly thicker sole adds a nice change of pace from your typical Chucks. The white laces give them that ol’, ol’, ol’, ol’ skool look but, if it were up to me, I might just switch it up and go with some regular black laces.

The white stitching along the sides of the shoes show the high level of quality of the product and the superb craftsmanship that’s also probably the reason why these will run you $150. The signature Converse patch, complete with a new distressed look (I know, that’s an oxymoron), is a nice touch and adds that rustic feel. The actual artist who designed these kicks, Scott Patt, was at the event rocking these and they looked legit. I’m feeling these shoes as some casual everyday kicks to rock with jeans.

Century Collection

The Pro Leather 1976 Woven.

I also liked the Black Fives All Star Revolutions, which are reminiscent of an all-purpose boot and reminded me a lot of a comfortable pair of Timberlands I had back in the day. The chocolate brown worn leather with the black soles is a good look and one of the main things that struck me with these was that they seemed to be very comfortable and sturdy.

According to Converse, the leather upper is flexed for a broken-in shape and feel. As with the Rens ’33 All Star, the stitching along the side of the shoe is a testament to its craftsmanship. My cousin, who worked on the set of the popular Nickelodeon TV show “The Naked Brothers Band” this summer, said he could see some of the band members rocking something like these. I see these shoes as a rugged pair of all-purpose boots to wear in the rain or snow with some jeans or cargos … and what they may lack slightly in style, they definitely look like they make up for in comfort.

Century Collection

The Converse All Star “Laced Up.”

To be honest, these two shoes were the only ones that I saw much potential in for my closet. As a true hoops junkie, I was impressed with the overall concept of the line and Converse’s appreciation of the history, but I think they tried a little too hard for my tastes on some of these pieces, which didn’t need all that to get me. I see what they were going for with the Pro Leather 1976’s but they are too “weathered” for my liking. The ’76 Woven’s are inspired by the old parquet floors of the ballrooms that the Black Fives played on, but for they’re a reach. I’d definitely consider rocking these if they lost the basket woven feature and were a solid, neutral color.

Century Collection

The Converse Newsprint Pro Team.

The same goes for the Original All Star, Vintage Rens All Star and Newprint Pro Team … just too much going on for my style. The Chuck Taylor All Star Specialty have an attractive look that might appeal to some of the women out there. They reminded me of a pair of Bottega Veneta’s that I saw Kanye West wearing the other day. If Converse eased up on the color here then I would consider wearing them.

Overall I would put most, but not all, of the Converse Black Fives Century Collection shoes in my closet, but the two I would rock the most are the Rens 1933 All Star and the Revolutions.

Wesley Harris is a basketball addict who is employed in the offices of the Ivy League as basketball programs coordinator. His freelance writing has been published in Dime Magazine as well as on the Ivy League’s 50th Anniversary website, and his interview credits include Bill Bradley. The Long Island native is a 2006 graduate of Georgetown University and is currently in the Sports Management Master’s Program at Columbia University.

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