Tremaine Emory and Converse were working on a sequel to their Chuck 70 collab via Emory’s Denim Tears brand, but a difference of opinions about its design prevented the sneaker from coming to fruition.

Emory appeared as a guest on the Tetragrammaton with Rick Rubin podcast earlier this month, where he shed light on what would’ve been the sophomore Denim Tears x Converse sneaker project following the Pan-African flag Chuck Taylors from 2020.

Around the 02:14:35 mark, Emory reveals that he was exploring the idea of creating products inspired by food, specifically a watermelon-themed Converse sneaker. According to Emory, the sneaker brand deemed the idea too controversial and felt the project could be interpreted as racist.

“The difference in the situation was, they called me, they told me, they weren’t down, they didn’t wanna do it,” Emory said. “They were uncomfortable with the imagery.”

Emory and Converse released their first collab in October 2020, which included a low and high-top version of the Chuck 70. The sneaker featured a design of the Pan-African flag on the upper and the release was timed to fall before that year’s presidential election with the goal of encouraging young Black creatives to vote.

While the watermelon-themed Converse sneaker never materialized, Emory dropped the charged Denim Tears S/S 2024 “Kiss My Grits” collection this month, with pieces donning graphics of watermelon and fried chicken. Denim Tears also recently collaborated with Japanese label Comme des Garçons on a watermelon wallet.

Emory regularly incorporates themes from Black American life in his work. The popular Denim Tears cotton wreath print references the history of slave labor in America, and Emory’s departure from his role as Supreme’s creative director in 2023 came after the brand disagreed with his plan to use images of lynching and slavery on apparel items.

The full discussion between Emory and Rubin is embedded below.

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