Right on the heels of a slew of mega successes with New Balance, Salehe Bembury has recently been announced as the creative director of apparel for Lebron James’ brand, Uninterrupted. According to an interview with Bleacher Report, Bembury plans on leveraging the ten years of brand history behind Uninterrupted as well as his fifteen years of experience as a designer to create a product that leaves the audience with a “feeling”. He likened the experience to being given a kitchen full of the best ingredients and being asked to make a dish.
The designer has come a long way since designing for Payless shoes at the beginning of his career, having built an individual brand spearheaded by his design ethos. With every collaborative or personal release, Bembury cultivates an audience that likes the things he likes and does the things he does. In the grand scheme of things, his success is indicative of a massive upheaval of traditional design practice, typically led by large corporations.
With brands such as Nike, New Balance, Adidas, and many more, the designer of a shoe or product largely takes a back seat while the monolithic brand identities lead the charge in the object’s popularity. However, with Salehe’s collaborations this is not the case. As can be seen with his upcoming Crocs collaboration, consumers couldn’t care less what brand the designer works with, it’s all about his magical touch that he injects into the identity of the brand and the design of the product itself.
This method clearly shows a change in the modern zeitgeist and attitude of consumers, who have become increasingly disillusioned with companies constantly pushing products in their faces and are feeling pandered to. For several years now, it seems as though companies are simply mashing brand identities together for easy cash grabs, rather than utilizing the best that both entities have to offer to create something greater than the sum of its parts. A large part of Bembury’s appeal is that, as one man, he is capable of using his problem solving abilities to warp the entire image of a company into something that the brand would never have been able to do on its own. As he continues his design endeavors, we are thrilled to see what he does next with Uninterrupted. No longer is there an allegiance to brand, people are aligning themselves with people.