Lucien Clarke has been involved with Louis Vuitton since the beginning of Virgil Abloh's appointment as artistic director of menswear. The Jamaica-born and Palace skateboarder walked for Abloh's first show for the maison's spring/summer 2019 menswear season and has done so two more times.
Now, as revealed on Instagram about a week ago, that relationship has taken a few steps further.
While Louis Vuitton is no stranger to streetwear collaborations—the recently completed collaboration with Nigo, and that game-changing one with Supreme as orchestrated by Kim Jones—they've essentially been just that: collaborations. There were the co-opting of design aesthetics and logos, as well as a celebration of streetwear culture as a whole. But there was never truly a concerted effort to be invested in the culture, of which skateboarding is a huge part of.
Abloh announced last week that Clarke has signed with Louis Vuitton on a "first skater deal of this type". While he wasn't explicitly thorough on what that deal entails, Abloh revealed that the partnership has been kept on the low for the past year and includes Clarke being given "free rein to design his pro model".
That pro model, as displayed proudly by Clarke, is reminiscent of skate styles by DC Shoes. Crafted in a mix of suede and mesh uppers, strikingly off the bat is the appearance of 'Lucien Clarke' right on the outer side of the sneaker. The LV logo is prominently featured on the tongue, and the LV Monogram is matched tone-on-tone on the heel counter and tab. Even the chunky semi-translucent soles get the Louis Vuitton treatment with Monogram elements decorating the side.
Clarke first showed off the black colourway of his self-designed pro skater sneakers, and subsequently revealed a white/orange iteration and then a blue colourway. What's also apparent is Clarke's deck getting the Louis Vuitton treatment as well—as featured on the campaign that made an exclusive debut in Thrasher's latest issue—and perhaps a ready-to-wear collection to round off the partnership.
While we await for more details on the breadth and launch date of the collection, Clarke mentioned that the campaign video is scheduled to drop towards the end of 2020.
There's no doubt that the sneaker will be one of the more expensive skate shoes out there. And seeing how skateboarders tear through their shoes pretty quick, it'll be interesting to see how Louis Vuitton will price them such that they'd be available to actual skaters.