The rise of Salehe Bembrey.
How did the world's most in-demand sneaker designer get to where he is.
The man/brand that I have pinned to be the most influential person in streetwear and sneakers this year is already off to a strong start.
In the first 46 days of 2023, he has already:
Sat in the best seat in the house for multiple Lakers games. He has the seats between the Lakers bench and the scorers table, on the floor. He even sat there for LeBron’s historic night.
Released and sold out collaborations with Crocs & Clarks.
Been featured in the latest Moncler global brand campaign.
Hosted his own wardrobe sale on BeASpunge.com.
Sold out multiple releases for his streetwear label, Spunge.
And genuinely seems to be just creating and living the life. If you follow him on Insta, you’ll see even when flying into new cities for such events, he has time to go hiking and enjoy some Salehe time.
Before we get into it, let me give a quick recap on his journey so far and how he has got here.
Salehe represents a new age creative. (I know I’m generalising here but) so long are the days of when the most famous product designers are designing chairs. Now, the most famous product designers in the world are sneaker designers, Salehe being one of them.
According to his Linkedin, his career looks like this.
Footwear Designer @ Payless Shoes
Footwear Designer @ Fortune Footwear
Senior Footwear Designer @ Damon Dash
Innovation Designer @ Cole Haan
Footwear Design Director @ GREATS
Mens Footwear @ YEEZY
Head Designer of Sneakers @ Versace
- Vice President of Sneakers & Mens Footwear
- Senior Director of Sneakers & Mens Footwear
Founder & Creative Director @ Spunge
Impressive and inspiring for those who aren’t designing at their dream brands just yet. You’ve gotta start somewhere but if you are good enough and put the time in, you just never know.
What is not included in the list about is his ridiculous list of collaborations.
New Balance 2002R: Bembury collaborated with New Balance on the 2002R sneaker, which features his signature design elements. Some of the colorways that were released include: "Peace Be the Journey" (green and yellow), "Water Be the Guide" (blue and white), and "Ideal Vision" (purple and orange).
ANTA SB-01: Bembury collaborated with Chinese sportswear brand ANTA on the SB-01 sneaker collection. The collection was inspired by the natural world and featured colorways like "Mountain" (green and brown), "Dune" (beige and orange), and "Volcano" (red and black).
Moncler: Bembury collaborated with luxury fashion brand Moncler on a special collection in 2020. The collection, called "Moncler x Salehe Bembury," was inspired by nature and featured unique textures, bold colors, and eye-catching designs. The collection included a range of items, from puffer jackets and vests to sneakers and accessories.
Clarks: Bembury also collaborated with British shoe brand Clarks on a special project in 2021. The collaboration resulted in a new version of Clarks' iconic Wallabee shoe, featuring Bembury's signature design elements and unique colorways. The shoe was released in both a low-top and a high-top version, and has been well-received by sneaker enthusiasts and fashion fans alike.
Canada Goose: For 2022 All-Star Weekend, the famous jacket company connected with the creative. The range includes Bembury’s interpretation of the outerwear brand’s staples such as the Expedition Parka, puffers vests, and bib.
Bodega: Bembury has also collaborated with Boston-based streetwear store Bodega on a range of products, including a t-shirt and a cap. The designs feature Bembury's signature earthy tones and unique graphics.
Pyer Moss: Bembury worked with the New York-based fashion brand Pyer Moss on a special project in 2021. The collaboration resulted in a range of clothing and accessories, including a jacket, a backpack, and a cap. The designs feature Bembury's unique style and incorporate elements of Pyer Moss's signature aesthetic.
Vans via his label Spunge: As somebody who used to work across Vans, this is one of the best collabs on the Authentic that I have seen. You may not think it at first glance, but I think these could be worn with anything!
Crocs: In 2021, Bembury teamed up with the one and only Crocs on a collection that included a unique take on the classic clog, as well as a backpack and a pair of socks. The designs incorporate Bembury's signature earthy tones and feature textured detailing. Thanks to Salehe, Crocs are now socially accepted at every restaurant in LA.
What I love about the Salahe collabs is that they are all different. He’s not simply changing a logo. He’s changing forms and styles whilst adding his personal flavour which has made him so in demand. Usually these high-profile names are slapping their logo on the products that already exist and laughing straight to the bank, like Curtis Jackson. Not Salehe. A true definition of the term - a creative.
Bembury's unique design style and collaborative spirit have made him one of the most exciting designers in the industry today because he’s not afraid to take risks and push boundaries.
As he continues to grow and evolve as a designer, there's no doubt that Salehe Bembury will continue to be a name to watch in the worlds of fashion and sneaker culture. The question becomes, how does he keep his creativity and integrity as more of the mainstream comes begging for his name? (btw I have zero concerns over him losing his way)
Here’s to hoping I can get my hands on one of his drops sometime soon.
And of course, there is something we can take from Salehe Bembury and apply to our brand:
Stay true to who you are as a creative. Don’t be another version of Salehe. Be a true version of yourself and create from what you are inspired by. You just never know, perhaps your taste and style will be in vogue.
Seek inspiration outside of Instagram and interest. Salehe refers to hiking by himself as his meditation. It’s where he does his best thinking. Maybe it’s worth doing what inspires you and creating from that headspace. For me, my best thinking is done in the bath - which most of you already know.
Keep going. He went from Payless Shoes to YEEZY and Versace… You’ve gotta start somewhere.
Thanks for reading.
If you enjoyed this and want to stay in the loop, please help motivate me to write next week’s article by subscribing here.