When the original Charlie in the Chocolate Factory film hit the screens in 1971, it is fair to assume there wasn’t a lot of attention being paid to the shoes worn by the cast, even if one of the characters had a name that sounded like she needed a trip to the chiropodist.
That may also be said of the 2005 remake, when the linked marketing was still based around actual chocolate bars and even an X-Box game, but the situation with the new Wonka film is very different indeed, partly thanks to some extremely rare Nike trainers.
While fans flock to the cinema to watch this prequel to the famous Roald Dahl-inspired story, the actor in the title role, Timothee Chalamet, has put his own stamp on the film and its merchandising by designing his own Wonka-themed Nike Dunks at the firm’s Oregon base.
As GQ Magazine noted, these shoes have a particularly distinctive look about them, highlighting the actor’s own love of sneakers and the eccentricities of his wardrobe in the film. It described them as being “about as lighthearted and whimsical as you’d expect”.
It further described them as “boasting a burgundy tongue and laces reminiscent of the chocolatier's signature jacket and smears of pastel colour cross the body that are meant to look hand-drawn with pencil crayon”.
Just like the golden tickets to visit the chocolate factory that was such a feature of the original story, this is a very limited edition with only five pairs produced. There is a promotional competition to win a pair, which GQ described as being the footwear equivalent of the ‘everlasting gobstopper’.
Given their exceptional scarcity, unique appearance and association with a spin-off of a classic children’s tale, this is sure to be a competition as keenly contested as any quest for a golden ticket.
It also helps that they were designed by an actor whose own blossoming career has made him one of the biggest rising stars in Hollywood. After supporting roles in hits like Interstellar and Don’t Look Up, as well as the TV series Homeland, Chalamet starred in the first part of the remake of Dune as the lead character, Paul Atreides.
With the second episode due out in March and writer Denis Villeneuve close to finishing his script for a trilogy film, he is guaranteed plenty of big screen exposure already, quite apart from the fact that his UK fan club has probably just expanded significantly among the population of Hull. Clearly the Nike swoosh is not the only great accent around.
Could this mean that there will be more collaborations between Timothee Chalamet and Nike? Admittedly, trainers may not be everyone’s ideal footwear for running across large stretches of sandy desert, but it seems pretty clear that Wille Wonka and Paul Atreides will not be the only characters he plays in big roles over the next few years.
As the big roles keep coming, we should expect several more Chalamet-inspired Nike designs. Fans will hope, however, that future limited editions are not quite as rare as one of the golden tickets.