Converse MVP Mid

The Converse MVP Mid

Introduction

The departure of Dwayne Wade in 2009 diminished what little momentum Converse Basketball had regained during the 5 years where Wade was the face of the company.  A short revival last season saw the release of the Defcon and Pro Leather 2k11, accompanied by a marketing campaign which featured commercials staring basketball legend Dr. J, Julius Erving.  Design fit the modern look of performers currently on the market, while performance held up very well, but not overly impressing.  This past summer, Converse released their latest entry, breaking ground by incorporating a touch from Nike.  Entitled the MVP, will this latest Converse performer open eyes and lead the brand into a new era?  Or will a the shoe fall to the wayside in a market flooded with newcomers every second?  Taking technology from their parent company, we see what Converse brings to the table in this Performance Review of the MVP Mid.

Back for another go, Converse takes the Nike Flywire technology into their latest effort – the MVP Mid.  The features include the following:

  • Injected foam upper providing excellent support and stability
  • Nike Flywire technology for light weight support around the toe box
  • Non-marking rubber outsole with multi-directional traction pattern
  • Ortholite insole for added comfort
  • Inner bootie system created by the base upper layer for a closer fit

Aesthetics and Styling

One of the first Converse shoes employing the Nike Flywire technology, the MVP Mid looks to start a new trend with the brand.  And what better way to start off a new trend with a bold design.  Last season, the Defcon introduced a foam based upper for maximum stability and protection.  The designers have taken it a step further this year as the MVP has a sleek and stealth look.  To make their way back into the basketball sneaker industry, this flashy design is a great first step.  For color, a gradient fade is used.  The effect fits the shoe well, and for the initial run of releases, a rainbow assortment of colors are available.  For this Performance Review, the black, red, and white color scheme is the choice.

A foam cage highlights the bold design, while the Nike Flywire technology brings a new touch to this latest Converse performer

Flowing seamlessly up from the midsole, the foam cage engulfs the upper.  The side profile reveals the sleek lines with the sharp cuts on the cage.  Flywire strands run through the toe box, fitting in with the design perfectly.  Below a simple contoured outsole is found.  The sole is outline by a smooth layer of rubber, with an almost herringbone traction pattern molded throughout.  Forming a toe cap up front, the outsole has two sections at the forefoot separated by flex grooves.  A long mid foot traction section has the “CONVERSE” logo in the center, as there is a slight dip.  Finishing off the outsole is a small traction section on the heel with a diagonal flex groove.  The most interesting aspect of the shoe comes as the midsole blends in with the upper.  Where the midsole is best seen is at the forefoot areas, where the foam cage ends.

A unique upper comes in two layers.  The base layer is made of a nylon material with a plastic film over top.  This is apparent at the toe box where the Flywire strands run on the lateral side covered by a thin film layer.  The medial side has the nylon reinforced by Hyperfuse-like material.  At the throat line, the “FLYWIRE” branding is present.  The rest of the base layer is stiff on the sides and continues down to the heel, forming a bootie like construction underneath the foam cage.  Thick and firm, the protective outer shell catches the eyes.  The sharp lines create an effect of large icicles popping out of the ground.  Forming a point for eyelets, the a large Converse chevron logo is painted over the gradient color scheme.

Pasted at the center of the back end is a Converse star.  The heel is made up of the foam cage for maximum protection.  On the lateral heel, the “ALL*STAR” logo is present.  A high Achilles cut, with a small notch from the inner bootie, leads to the slightly rising detached collar.  Padding is present on the sides of the collar and is minimal.  The collar is lined with a smooth synthetic.

Thin flat, light weight laces run through six eyelets.  The first four eyelets are punctured through the under layer and are reinforced as they pass through the foam over layer.  Two final eyelets are cut into the collar.  A light weight mesh tongue sits with a lace holder and a smooth upper patch.  The patch has the iconic Converse All-Star logo and is lined with the smooth synthetic.  Finally a soft foam insole sits above the footbed with the “CONVERSE” logo printed on the heel.

Comfort and Fit

With plenty of room to slide the foot through and laces which pass through the eyelets with ease,   getting into the MVP Mid is quick and easy.  Fit is true to side, with comfortable pressure felt down the middle once the laces are tightened.  Everything about the upper is stiff and rigid, but it does not suffocate the foot.  The toe box area is stiff, with enough room width wise.  There is some wiggle room in terms of height, and overall the toe box fits well.  Around the foot, the under layer bootie grips the foot tight, while the foam cage bears down.  Luckily the cage does not bring discomfort from pressure.  However, on the initial wears it does have a thick and stiff feel.  Moving on, ankle support and protection is great.  The collar fits nicely around the ankles with the padding providing good comfort.  Because of the detached design, the rigidness of the foam outer layer is broken up, not restricting the ankles.  Below, heel lock down is a bit loose.  The counter is hard and has a low profile, not coming up to the base of the Achilles.  Although the heel does press up against the counter, there is some slight slipping up and down.  Next, cushioning is very comfortable.  What is felt below is a cross between plush comfort and soft responsiveness.  Those looking for a shoe that has balanced comfort might find this set up ideal.  The midsole is not very thick, which brings a good low profile feel.  Arch support is great with the foam cage feeling like an indestructible barrier.  For comfort and fit, the MVP Mid is secure and protective, with good ankle support and comfortable cushioning.

Converse MVP Mid

The foam outer layer has a stiff but secrure fit

Performance

Stiff and thick, the foam outer layer feels very protective stepping on the court.  The shoe, without a thick misdole, has a low court feel with the forefoot slightly curved upward so a flat feeling is not felt.  Jumping out of the gate, running may be a bit stiff at first.  The foam cage presses down on the forefoot on each side.  Those looking for soft comfort would best look elsewhere, as there may be some discomfort felt for the initial minutes on the hardwood.  Heel to toe transitions feel a bit blocky, but very close to the court.  Weight wise, the shoe does not feel too heavy.  It goes without saying that a break in period, best performed very hard, is needed not only to ease the foam in, but to get the best performance out of the shoe.  Once broken in, the personality of the shoe is apparent.  Made for the active player who tends to tax a shoe to the limit, the MVP Mid is a non-apologetic performer.  Light and fluid would not be the best words to describe performance, as the shoe plays on the harsh side.  Perhaps the best aspect of performance is the responsiveness of the shoe.  Playing off the forefoot, first steps are solid.  Stepping into a drive or quick jumper is done in stride, and although the shoe has a rough feel, these harsh, abrupt forward movements are what the shoe was meant to do.  Moving laterally, the low profile design eases the player into motion.  Especially on defense, the player can move, once comfortable with the foam shell, in the flow of action and plant hard for a change of direction when needed.  Those who play at a stop and start pace will find that this is what the shoe does best.  For jumps, the responsiveness of the shoe shines again.  The cushioning set up is  comfortable and low, so when the player decides to push off the base, it is second nature.  Jumps are performed without any hinderances, while landings are taken without too much discomfort.  A harsh and aggressive performer, the Converse MVP Mid brings great court feel and responsiveness.

An area where the MVP does extremely well is with stability.  Mentioned early, this shoe sacrifices comfort for stability and security.  The foam outer shell does a great job in each area.  Starting with the forefoot, the cage is bullet proof.  Sliding to a halt laterally, the inner shell holds the foot, while the cage acts like a brick wall.  Unless the player lands awkwardly, rolling the foot is an anomaly.  Up top, ankle protection is great.  The detached design makes it so that, once eased in, the player can bend through the foam and keep agile, while still having that stiff support.  Again, comfort is not at a premium as the padding offers minor help, but playing hard and aggressive, support is superb.  For the heel, there is some slippage (mentioned in the Comfort and Fit section) but not enough to affect performance as the inner bootie does enough to conform to the foot.  That said, the foam around the heel is very thick and cumbersome, limiting movement on the whole.  However, landing awkwardly on the heel, as well as rocking back on the heel, security and protection is always felt.  Also, the cage is great for those few moments when another player may step on or inadvertently kick the shoe, as it is not even felt (for the most part).  In the end, all the player has to do is hold and feel the shoe to know that stability performance, in a taxing and aggressive sense, is outstanding.

Traction performance is an aspect where the MVP Mid might disappoint.  Out of the box, nice and clean, the rubber outsole provides grip all around.  Jab steps, lateral cuts, and quick stops are performed with no problems as the traction surface grips the court well.  Issues are present after a short period of time when the rubber does pick up dust.  With a little dust, traction performance does drop significantly as movement becomes very smooth especially on the medial side outline (where the rubber does not have the traction pattern molded in).  Finding grip becomes more difficult, even when playing heavy footed.  It seems as though the player will have to be very conscious about dusting off the sole numerous times during a session, which is not the ideal situation.  Traction performance might be better off on a rough outdoor surface where the rubber can be taxed harder than a smooth hardwood court.  As far as ventilation is concerned, the shoe performs well.  The foam cage is a bit cumbersome, but not in a way to restrict ventilation.  Inside, the mesh tongue and bootie do a good job of keeping the foot comfortable in all aspects, let alone moisture and heat control.

Conclusion

Like Reebok, Converse was once a powerhouse in the basketball sneaker landscape, now trying to get a little piece of the pie.  They have not replaced the star power they had with Wade, and have done little to press the issue in terms of marketing.  When Nike acquired Converse, a melding of the two brands would seem like it would be a no brainer.  But, the lack of exposure and enthusiasm created could only result in a failed attempt, regardless of performance.  Aside from the die hard basketball fan, or the casual player who happens to stumble upon their latest release, the MVP Mid will most likely go unnoticed for the Fall season.  With a few issues in terms of traction and fluidness of performance, the MVP Mid brings an aggressive touch with very good responsiveness and court feel on the hardwood.  It is easy to dismiss non-high profile releases in favor of the glitz and glamour performers we see each season.  Whether the shoe is an option for some or not, having more choices is better than the alternative.  Released this past summer, the MVP Mid is available in multiple color schemes at Converse retailers now.

This shoe is comparable to:

Converse Defcon
Converse Pro Leather 2k11