A Florida-based designer named Cecilia Monge has accused shoe giant Converse of stealing a design pitch she submitted to them through an internship application in 2019.
She claimed that her prototype is being used for the company’s latest “Chuck 70 National Parks” shoe line. A video posted on Saturday detailing the allegations has been viewed by over 13 million users on TikTok.
“The colour palette is exactly the same as the one I sent them, down to the order of the colours and the actual hues of the colours,” the 22-year-old designer said in the video.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” she added.
“My initial reaction was disbelief,” said Ms Monge. “I knew the designs looked like the ones I sent them two years ago, but I was hesitant because they were such a reputable brand.”
Cecilia Monge blames Converse for copying design
She told Buzzfeed that she wants the company to “recognize what they did and acknowledge it.”
Converse issued a response to the allegations in a statement.
They told Footwear News: “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.”
The statement continued: “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.”
They clarified that due to the popularity of the style, they continued the design in 2021 under their “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 colour palettes, which were applied across a number of executions across the Chuck 70, Chuck Taylor All Star and apparel,” the statement concluded.
Describing the inspiration behind her initial pitch, Ms Monge explained how she landed on the idea of national parks.
“I tried thinking of who I think is Converse’s target customer and how I could cater to them,” she told BuzzFeed. “Essentially, a hyper-specific customer would help me visualise the person to make it easier to design. That’s how I landed on national parks.”
“Some people have said that a large company taking an idea from a rejected internship application is unlikely, but those folks who are currently in design roles immediately came to my side to show me support,” she said.
“People in the industry know how real my situation is and how often it happens to people who are too afraid to speak up… My story isn’t the first of its kind in the industry, and it won’t be the last,” she concluded.