The Converse Skidgrip Returns, with a Little Help from Jerry Lorenzo

The Skidgrip is back in the Converse lineup, 110 years after its introduction.

With modern modifications in form, the under-the-radar classic affirms its effortless stance. The initial release of the return, a High Top collaboration with Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear of God ESSENTIALS, underscores the shoe’s historic cool.

The story of the Skidgrip begins in 1910, with the debut of the Converse Circular Vamp Oxford (CVO). In its various incarnations, the CVO hit tennis and basketball courts, as well as boat and skate decks. In fact, the name “Skidgrip” came in the early 1960s, as reference to no-slip soles designed for boating. Two decades later, the shoe became a conduit for the SoCal-flavor of an emergent interlaced BMX, skate and surf scene. 

Lorenzo became acquainted with the shoe after moving from California to South Florida in the late ’80s. “I found the Skidgrip in the mall and it became my favorite shoe from that summer,” says Lorenzo. 

The 1987 High Top version of the Skidgrip, known commercially as the Con-Rad, was pure ’80s pop. It carried bold prints (Red Pacific and Bright Primitive) and bottled an unmistakable youthful energy. 

“In South Florida and California kids surf and skate; those cultures naturally blended,” says Lorenzo. “Even though I wasn’t a skater or a surfer, mixing in pieces from those cultures allowed me to move through different segments of friends.”

Part of what made his late ’80s pair special was the proprietary prints (a collaborative effort with California-based JAMS). Another integral component for Lorenzo was the elegance of the shape. Rediscovering a vintage pair of Skidgrips in Tokyo a few years ago, he says, “all the emotions came rushing back.”

“We picked the Skidgrip because it was a shoe that I loved when I was younger.” Jerry Lorenzo

Emotion is the core of the Skidgrip’s return. The detailing, a combined effort between Converse and Lorenzo, serves to add a new chapter to the Skidgrip’s nonchalant legacy. The tooling is studiously recrafted — complete with a sleek, 30-degree slope along the midsole from heel to toe. 

“The sole is the biggest takeaway when you look at the sneaker,” says Lorenzo. “It feels very much like our main line, the Fear of God 101, and gives it the same feeling looking down as looking down at the Skidgrip in the late ’80s.”

The assured stance allows the upper to shine afresh, with a more contemporary height and sleeker shape. Lorenzo’s take, co-branded between Converse and FOG ESSENTIALS, reprises those ’87 graphics, and with it an unmistakable pop that brings energy to any essential outfit. 

“Everything we’ve tried to do starts from a place of honesty. We picked the Skidgrip because it was a shoe that I loved when I was younger. Our aim in bringing back a silhouette that has been perhaps overlooked is to bring it a fresh relevance,” says Lorenzo.

The Converse x Fear of God ESSENTIALS Skidgrip releases August 27. Additional inline versions of the Skidgrip arrive in September. 

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