I feel like I've had this negative mindset when I'm talking about different sneaker designers lately (Fridays blog felt a little foreshadowing to the weekend..._) which means I need to highlight my personal favorite designer in the sneaker space right now Salehe Bembury. This man has been owning the sneaker industry for a second now, and I know I've written about Salehe before but this man deserves the recognition no matter how big or small. The biggest purpose of this is to highlight the actual design aspect of the sneaker industry. You see guys mixing up fabrics and colors but rarely do you see real life design within sneakers anymore everything is a collaboration where the colors are switched up and that's all, naw not for Salehe.
Lets throw it back for minute and to Bembury's time as the lead designer for men's footwear at Versace. Bembury is doing things with sneakers and design that are authentically him and that's important. While at Versace he was a designer on the Versace "Chain React" alongside the rapper Two Chainz, It's not only the word play on the naming of the sneaker that hits upon the chain theme of the sneaker but Bembury and his design team created a brand new mold to shape the out sole of the sneaker (see below). This man created and entire chain link sole of a sneaker and made it not just wearable and functional but stylish at the same time.
The actual design process gets lost in the sneaker industry so often, all people want is the next cool thing that a celebrity puts their name on but zero effort into. The real nitty gritty sneaker designers don't get the shine that they deserve because you don't really hear their names or see their faces. Bembury is one of the few who is more accessible to more casual sneaker heads through his social media channels and by being one of the few true designers whose name is out in the world. Bembury's designs are very specific to himself and you can see his personal stamp on each and every sneaker that he designs, he has also been very open with where he gets his inspiration from, mostly the outdoors. If you follow him on Instagram you can see his day hikes documented through story posts and you are able to really connect the inspiration to the specific sneakers. His newest sneaker design that released quiet literally has hiking equipment built into the sneaker itself, the newest design sports a whistle on the posterior of the shoe. The whistle for non hikers like myself (I know shocking I'm not a rugged outdoors man) is in case of an emergency to be able to signal other hikers nearby for help. This is real life design inspiration that has turned into literal functionality.
It's not just functionality that Bembury brings to the table when designing a sneaker its also a personal flair as well. Bembury has a project with Crocs (yes those Crocs) releasing in December where his fingerprints are literally all over this design. Pictured below are Bemburys signature Croc design and if you look at the bottom of the clogs as he calls them you'll see a very peculiar pattern. This pattern actually happens to be inspired by Bemburys fingerprint which is one of the coolest features of the design. This however isn't the first time Bembury has used his fingerprint in his sneaker designs, both of his New Balance 2002r collaborations actually have his fingerprint inspired design stamped on the heel of the sneaker up near the collar (also pictured below).
The next time you think that I am being to critical of the latest celebrity sneaker collaboration just know that we don't just want a new colorway we want design and fashion to be highlighted in each and every pair. We want the designers to show us why this is more than just a Nike ID with a celebrity name on it.