A small but vocal group of TikTok style influencers have turned on one of the most beloved sneakers of recent years, using the brutal hashtag #HeartShoeBad to disavow the Comme des Garçons PLAY x Converse Chuck 70 collaboration. The backlash is sudden and shocking, given the shoe’s ubiquity – or perhaps because of it. Now, fashion consumers face an uncomfortable question: is heart shoe bad? 

Even if the name means nothing to you, you’ve likely seen the Comme des Garçons PLAY x Converse Chuck 70 kicks in the wild (for simplicity’s sake, I’ll call them CdG Converse from here on out). They’re the Chuck Taylor All-Stars sporting a significant tweak: a big, red heart emblazoned on their exterior, with eyes likely to grab anyone you walk past. That heart is the logo of Japanese fashion label Comme des Garçons PLAY, who teamed up with Converse in 2009 to set the shoes loose on the world. It’s been a sweet deal for both companies, and the kicks have only grown in popularity since then. 

To some, they’ve become a style staple, elevating the classic silhouette with a hint of avant garde sophistication. They’re versatile, wearable, and, in the pantheon of designer sneakers, $240 a pair is relatively affordable. CdG Converse still adorn countless fit pics, with their wearers slyly flaunting their knowledge of designer Rei Kawakubo. Industry heavyweights Sneaker Freaker even named them the most influential shoes of the decade. And, in the interests of full disclosure, I own a pair myself. I think they’re neat.

Now I’m left wondering: What happened?

@svauna???????????????????? ##shoes ##cdgconverse ##cdg ##sneakers ##fyp ##xyzbca ##shykids ##ChilisBirthday♬ 1999 She – Deaton Chris Anthony

If young TikTokers had formed a negative view of CdG Converse, those feelings burst onto the For You Page in July, when Mark Boutilier, a self-styled streetwear critic, referenced a totally different designer: Rick Owens.

“What if this geobasket was at the top of the “cdgconverse” hashtag?” he asked, referring to Rick Owens’ Geobasket sneakers, a futuristic take on the basketball high-top. “That would maybe be funny possibly,” he added. 

The hijacking was a success. Three days later, Boutilier’s Ricks took pride of place. He issued another post, fistpumping in front of a wall of CdG Converses, and captioned the video with #HeartShoeBad. Even if it wasn’t the origin of ‘Heart Shoe’, a term neither Comme des Garçons or Converse have used in an official capacity, Boutilier’s post tapped a growing sentiment and amplified the put-down across the app. To date, TikToks captioned #HeartShoeBad have been viewed more than 2.1 million times.

@mark_boutilierwe did it???????? ##rickowens ##ricktok ##geobasket ##heartshoebad ##foryou ##fypage ##OneLoveOneHeart♬ My Tears Are Becoming A Sea – M83

As cries of Heart Shoe Bad, Rick Good ricochet over TikTok, some users have tried unpacking why, exactly, a subset of style influencers have dismissed the CdG Converse. 

“In my opinion, there’s really no right answer for that question,” says TikToker @Centrll in their own video explaining the phenomenon. “But in my opinion, I feel that people hate on CdG PLAY because it’s what the brand is mostly known for…. Instead of the infamous (CdG) fashion designers who made countless fashion breakthroughs.” 

Here, the problem isn’t the brand, but what people think the brand is. Comme des Garçons PLAY is itself a subset of Kawakubo’s main line, whose runway looks are famed for their playfulness and drama. PLAY is different, offering tees, cardigans, and other luxe basics deemed worthy of the little red heart. For fashion veterans, wearing the CdG Converse might feel like stolen style valour. 

Then there’s the simple issue of oversaturation, and some see the CdG Converse as a victim of their own success. In their own video critiquing the shoes and CdG PLAY, user @fashion.elitist says, “once something starts trending, everyone starts doing it, and it lacks originality.” Heart Shoe Bad. Clout-chasing badder.

@fashion.elitistIn conclusion trendy shoes destroy my individuality complex. ##heartshoebad ##rickgood ##cdg ##ShowUpShowOff ##fyp♬ pastel skies – Rook1e

The view is similar on the sneaker side of TikTok, where the most coveted kicks are never even worn. While the CdG Converse were relatively exclusive at the time of their release, successive drops have flooded the resale market, leaving them somewhere between everyday staple and true grail status. 

It’s too late, the meme argues. The magic is gone. The heart shoe: it’s bad.

@ceoofgolfwangNo cdg converse. ##cdg ##converse ##fashion ##heartshoebad ##fyp♬ Pose X Star Wars – Bucket

Except it might not be. Not really. The heart shoe’s power doesn’t only come from what it adds, but what it cleverly takes away. To my eye, the classic Chuck Taylor has one aesthetic flaw: the black piping which runs along the outsole, stretching from the toe cap to the rear rubber stamp. Not so with the heart shoe, which presents the outsole as a solid slab of white rubber, a simpler, more complete take on the classic silhouette. Ironically, this is recognised by Rick Owens, the other half of this memey designer battle, whose Ramones – a $1100 take on the original Converse design – also feature a white outsole unbroken by the classic Converse line. If it works, it works.

@erlebnesseI have the face of pure defeat as I realize I’m beating a dead horse for content ##fyp ##fashion ##rick♬ Rick… good – CeoOfGolf

The heart shoe also possesses the silent advantage of all Chuck Taylors, which is that they look good fucked up. Forget the pre-scuffed Golden Goose sneakers, with artfully disheveled duct tape, or the Margiela German Army Trainers with paint splatter from the factory. Chucks invite you to trudge across sodden fields at a music festival, sprint for your connecting flight, or spill beer all over them. They make good on the PLAY branding.

This is not to say they’re perfect, and $240 is extremely steep for a few canvas panels sealed on rubber. Besides, this analysis ignores the simplest answer available: there is always room for something new.

But there is something to be said for the opposition arising on TikTok, a platform uniquely geared to create, embrace, and destroy trends before they’re noticed by most consumers, where one deadpan reaction can spark an underground rejection of a era-defining favourite.

If you inhabit the fashion industry, with its increasing presence online and a lingering hyper-obsession with youth, you may well be sensitive to the drippiest memes from hypebeast teens. For the rest of us, it might not matter. Heart shoe good.

Image: David Adams / PEDESTRIAN.TV