Is this a crime of fashion?
A Florida designer has claimed Converse stole her sneaker design after noticing their new line bore an uncanny resemblance to prototypes she submitted on a rejected internship application two years back. A video posted Saturday detailing the alleged shoe theft currently now boasts 9.1 million views on TikTok.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” Cecilia Monge, 22, laments in the clip, which she initially hesitated to make as she doubted the shoe giant had seen her original concepts. However, the aspiring footwear maven eventually took it to TikTok after her family convinced her she’d been the target of a sneaker attack.
In the viral video, the designer recounted how she applied for the design internship with Nike-owned footwear firm in 2019, for which she sent designs for “National Park”-inspired kicks with her application. (Converse has confirmed to The Post that Monge applied for an internship — but denied her viral accusations. Read their full statement later in this story.)
“I really wanted the position,” Monge told fashion blog Diet Prada of the inspiration behind her pitch. “I thought I should show initiative and create my own line of Converse to show them I could be successful in the role if they hired me, which is a common practice in design roles.”
Unfortunately, the budding designer never heard back from Converse, per the clip. Then, in May, she saw an internet advert showcasing the shoe purveyor’s new range of National Park-themed shoes — which she claimed looked eerily similar to her prospective pair.
In order to illustrate the resemblance, Monge shared a side-by-side comparison of one of her designs — called the Grand Canyon — and the newly released Unisex Converse Chuck 70 National Parks High Top in Red Bark. Both the original and alleged knockoff feature brown, red, yellow and orange stripes, the latter of which Converse claimed was “inspired by vistas of national parks” on its site.
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Another one of Monge’s submissions, dubbed “Yellowstone” due to its geothermal-themed color pattern, also has a Converse doppelganger, which looks similar to hers down to “the order of the colors and the actual hues,” she fumed. Neither of the designs are available on the shoe brand’s US website, but can be purchased in Australia.
The crushed creator found the resemblance especially suspect as Converse “didn’t assign an interview project or ask us to design a line for the national parks,” she told Diet Prada.
She added, “I 100% came up with designs and the concept on my own and sent it in to them in good faith.”
However, when reached by The Post for comment, reps for the Converse brand shared the following statement:
“In November 2019, the candidate did apply to a Converse internship for 2020 summer program – a highly competitive program, which receives thousands of applications each year. She was not hired or screened for any roles. The application did not include a request for, nor did Converse solicit design portfolios/samples to be submitted. As a matter of standard legal policy, we do not share unsolicited portfolios of job applicants across the business.”
Meanwhile, Monge lamented: “it’s kind of just unfortunate when larger companies borrow from smaller designers.”
Reps for Converse continued in their statement: “In October 2020, we released a Chuck 70 design, which took inspiration from the map patterns of Nor’easter storms. It was first concepted and designed in April 2019. Due to the popularity of the style, we continued it in 2021 under our design concept “Hybrid World,” which explores original design concepts informed by the physical and digital realities of modern lives. The Great Outdoors and specifically, National Parks served as inspiration for various color palettes, which were applied across a number of executions across the Chuck 70, Chuck Taylor All Star and Apparel.”
Still, perception is often everything online — and Monge’s TikTok fashion statement lit a fire in the social media peanut gallery, who lambasted Converse over their alleged shoe robbery.
“@converse why are you stealing from professionals and also not even hiring them?,” wondered one supporter of the devastated designer.
Another wrote, “Do better @converse and PAY UP.”
One fan told Monge she would buy her shoes over the Converse version any day.
“U have no idea HOW much that makes me feel better,” gushed Monge in response. “Appreciate you!”
The sneaker artist hopes her saga can help shed light on what she alleges is the larger trend of big businesses pilfering from anonymous creators.
“I’m hoping for more people to care about large companies stepping on the little guy, and to learn more about how often large companies are powered by the creativity of people they didn’t even give the time of day,” she said.