In June of last year, I posted an article about the story behind the unreleased Daniel Johnston model Converse All-Stars. For those of you who haven’t read it, I will try to fill you in on the important details. The first thing for you to be aware of is that you should probably just go read that original article. Seriously, it’s been a pretty popular one for us and the people seem to enjoy it. Plus, it’s not very long and there are a ton of pictures!
Either way… here’s a quick breakdown. When I conducted my interview with Daniel in early 2008, he mentioned that Converse was working with him on the production of a signature shoe, but I never heard or saw anything more about them getting a release. Then, last year, I came across some images of a gray high-top model on Flickr. I contacted the owner of the shoes/images, Danny Crombie, who explained that he randomly found them in a store in Perth, Australia. They were the only pair in the store and appeared to only be product samples. He was in the UK, but had found them while traveling and didn’t really know the full story behind them. They didn’t even fit him, but he was aware enough to realize that he should pick them up anyway. From there I contacted Daniel’s brother and manager, Dick Johnston. Dick explained that, although Daniel was paid for his work, the project was bagged by Converse execs and the company had no future plans of ever releasing them. The fact that the product samples were ever made at all was a surprise to him. He forwarded me the sample images that Converse had sent to him during the time that they were still planning on producing them. Those images showed ideas for the shoe-beds, uppers, liner, and labels, etc.; most of which coincided with the final product shown through Crombie‘s find. With permission, I took the images from both Crombie and Johnston‘s camp and compiled them into my previous piece. From there, links to the article began popping up in various places. Arguably, the most important of the links appeared on the front page and press sections of Daniel‘s official website.
Since that original post, a few more pairs have popped up in random locations around the world. Along with the gray high-tops I believe that there may be only one other model and that equal pairs of each were, most likely, created. How many pairs, I don’t know, but the second variation is a yellow low-top model. To this day, our post about the Daniel Johnston Converse will get linked off of some random music site or Japanese twitter account and receive another sudden boost in traffic for a short period or so. It has also yielded a good amount of comments/contacts, including one from Daniel‘s Hyperjinx Tricycle band member and author of Hi, How Are You?: The Life, Art, & Music of Daniel Johnston, Don Goede (aka: Jack Medicine). On September 22, we received one particularly intriguing comment/contact from a gent by the name of Chris in the United Kingdom.
Here’s what it said:
“I don’t know if these are still in demand but I have a pair! Found them in a shop in Aberdeen, Scotland. They’re UK size 9 and still have the tags attached. They are pale yellow low tops. If anyone is interested leave a reply.“
Before approving the message for the world to see, I decided to contact Chris directly and find out more about his offer to sell the shoes. One thing that I already knew was that the yellow low tops did exist… so that much sounded legit. Although we were operating in different time-zones, I still heard back from him rather quickly. My intention was basically just to find out what he was trying to get for them and, if it was beyond what I wanted to deal with, I would just post the comment and help him get rid of them (as if he needed the “help”). However, after expressing that I was thinking about just sending the shoes directly to Daniel anyway, Chris actually offered to sell them to me for cost (plus shipping). I let him know that he could easily make the most money by listing them on ebay, but he told me that he wasn’t worried about it and offered to send them out anyway. I converted my dollars into pounds through Paypal and waited for the shoes to arrive. I’ve sold a lot of shit on ebay in the past and this transaction wasn’t exactly “ebay regulated“. I had already contacted Dick again, asking if Daniel had ever been able to get his hands on a pair of the shoes and he had confirmed that he hadn’t. He told me that Daniel would, of course, love to finally see them, but that I would be completely in the right for keeping them for myself. Still… everything was done on faith and, although I was paranoid that I might take a hit on a pair of shoes that never arrived, they eventually did.
Here are the photos that I took to document them, while they were in my possession…
Lining is printed with lyrics to Daniel’s song “Worried Shoes”
Footbeds feature Daniels character’s “Joe the Boxer” and “Vile Corrupt”
“Property of Converse”
“Not For Resale”
Salesman Sample Card
Sample Card [front & back]
“Consumer Type: INDIE”
After documenting the shoes with photos, I wrapped them up in an old NIKE box and shipped them out to Daniel‘s family in Texas. Based on past comments, I’m sure that a lot of people will read this post and think that I’m a goddamn idiot for not keeping them for myself. I’m not too concerned with that. I’m much more fascinated by the idea that these shoes were designed by Converse from Daniel‘s artwork, manufactured in China, were purchased in Scotland, shipped from the UK to Seattle, and then, eventually, made their way all the way back to Daniel in Texas, 2 years after they were produced. I thought about how much I would want to see the end product of something that I helped to create and wanted Daniel to be able to experience that for himself. Once Chris (wish I knew your last name) McIntosh in the UK agreed to ship them out to me for nothing but reimbursement and shipping fees, there was no question in my mind that I was going to follow through with forwarding them out to Texas. Plus, I didn’t need one more item taking up space in my living room, because it possessed some sort of supposed monetary value.
On Monday, I received an email from Dick which included some photographs of Daniel. They were taken as he opened the package and laid his eyes on the shoes, which where made to honor him, for the very first time. Just look at how stoked this guy is over finally seeing them! That’s worth a lot more to me than the idea of having a shoebox packed away in a storage closet.
I have become genuinely intrigued by the fact that the handful of these shoes that do exist, seem to be showing up in such random corners of the globe. If you have a pair or have come across them, we’d love to hear about how and where you located them in the comment section below.