Converse launched its 2024 Black Joy collection, where this year’s collection draws inspiration from the expansive imaginative energy of the Harlem Renaissance, reimagined for the Black creators of today. The sneaker brand tapped six young, multi-hyphenate artists—Denise Stephanie Hewitt, Carly Heywood, Ana Rice, Sef Akins, Xavier “X” Means, and Rivers Chowdhry-Cahee—to create, shoot, and produce the campaign. With full creative control, the Zillennials enlisted their talents and invited them to use the city as their canvas and playground. Hewitt served as the 2023 GU Disruptor Summit’s Resume Rundown guest, discussing her journey as a young creative while being a full-time student.
“This campaign honors the history of Black creativity in New York by celebrating the new young creatives, who were born and raised in the city, that are living that legacy presently,” Hewitt says. “I particularly chose artists from areas like Flatbush, Bed-Stuy, Canarsie, and East New York because these places are significant cultural enclaves that I rarely see in the limelight as a Brooklyn native myself.”
Featuring two local artistic communities, the new collection—includes two new iterations of the Chuck 70 and Chuck Taylor All-Star as well as Cropped and Standard Fit T-Shirts. Black History Month is every month, and this collection allows consumers to celebrate in Converse, which channels self-expression, style, and culture.
“I am filled with pride, gratitude, and bliss, and I have been counting down the days for this project to go live,” Hewitt says. “It’s such a full circle moment as a Converse fan since middle school. My classmates will tell you that I wore my pairs until the soles lost their grip. It was a staple part of my identity growing up, so for me to photograph a campaign for them 10 years later is almost unbelievable.”
Through the campaign, they highlighted how history and culture are continuously being made and redefined in the culturally rich Black communities of New York, which are not a monolith but have evolved to include many different facets.
“The place where we photographed it is actually my paternal family home,” Hewitt tells GU. “It was a place of refuge for other Caribbean immigrants who were getting their start in the United States just like her. Tying together that story of communal care with the creativity of today’s artists created the perfect nuance to the narrative. Getting to create another campaign that honors black creativity, lineage, and legacy in this way is such an honor.”
Empowering young, diverse creatives exemplifies Converse’s mission as a brand to provide access and opportunity for rising creatives and artists, letting them bring their own authentic voices to brand campaigns. “To think back on our first brainstorm as a cohort in X’s basement with a makeshift projector throwing out ideas and compare it to seeing it all come together in its final form like this, I’m so grateful,” Hewitt tells GU. “I couldn’t have done it without the support and expertise of my cohort. We were truly a dream team.”
About the Author: Kenyatta Victoria is the lead writer for Essence GU, working on all things pop culture, politics, entertainment and business. Throughout her time at GU, she’s garnered devoted readers and specializes in the Zillennial point of view.