Salehe Bembury’s 'YURT' Returns

April 21, 2022 by Joey Birch

Salehe Bembury’s 'YURT' Returns

Salehe Bembury has seen huge success with his ongoing work with New Balance, and it’s safe to assume we can look forward to a lot more to come. 

From working his way around the industry to eventually reaching out to Kanye West in 2015, leading him to assist the design process of the adidas YEEZY 350 V2 as well as the 750. Following this, Bembury was on a roll, going on to become the Vice President of sneakers and men's footwear at Versace where he got the cosign from Donatella Versace herself, calling Bembury “the best sneaker designer in the world” in an interview with HYPEBEAST.

During his time at Versace, New Balance approached Salehe with what was effectively a blank notebook. In an interview with Esquire, Bembury remembers: “they gave me a decent amount of freedom when I entered the brand. They came to me perhaps from my accomplishments at Versace, I believe. So it was more about like, what do you want to do?”

From this introduction, came the release of the duo's first collaboration on the then lesser-known, and recently re-released 2002R silhouette. Titled the ‘Peace Be The Journey’, the inspiration behind the design was taken from the 2-hour hike Bembury makes every morning as a way of gaining peace of mind, featuring a bright orange upper complete with tonal details and NBs usual high-quality materials with hairy suede and thick mesh panelling. 

The first collaboration was met with hugely positive feedback, seeing the release featured on many people's top 10 sneakers of the year lists, later seeing a second colourway titled ‘Water Be The Guide’, taking similar design cues as the first colourway, but instead utilising a bold blue upper. 

OG Remake of the New Balance 574, 2018

Soon after the release of his second 2002R, New Balance and Salehe revealed a new take on one of their OG silhouettes, the 574. Released in 1998, 50 years after New Balance’s first running shoe, the 574 was made to provide improved comfort when running but would ultimately go on to become NBs first lifestyle model. 

While the shape of the 574 could be seen in the upper of the Salehe's latest release, the overall design was very much a new look. Named the 574 YURT, Salehe once again took inspiration from the outdoors and hiking, showcasing that a sneaker can also be functional as well as stylistic. With the 574 silhouette, Bembury paired a chunky outsole featuring New Balance’s Abzord technology throughout as well as a rollbar in the heel to provide additional comfort.

However, it wasn’t the outsole that caught the attention of the industry or the usual premium materials and tonal colourways we have come to expect from a Salehe Bembury x New Balance project; but the whistle on the back of the shoe. An important piece of equipment when hiking, Bembury was able to craft the ‘YURT’ silhouette to feature the whistle on the back of the sneaker, providing a shrill sound as was demonstrated in the outdoor-themed promotional video, part of the series of videos accompanying Bemburys releases. Speaking to Esquire, he says: 

“The idea was basically to juxtapose the heritage of the 574 with the lifestyle of my brand, the identity of my brand and then the way that I prioritize function, and let function lead design. That’s what created the Yurt”.

While the initial release of the 574 YURT used toned down colourways with an olive, blue and cream aesthetic with red detailing as well as a second clean grey design - Bembury is back with three new colourways - each featuring bold makeover.

After images were released on the 18th of April by Bembury who also announced the name of the pack would be ‘Universal Communication’ the first colourway is made with a turquoise suede upper complete with a minimal black and white midsole and detailing on the green speckled outsole, a light green mudguard and blue N logo on the medial and lateral sides. 

Secondly, a grey and pink colourway is being released with hits of pink throughout breaking the grey suede upper apart in addition to further blue detailing on the tongue and overlays alongside subtle brown hits under the heel. The third and final colourway provides more of a stealthy approach, a predominantly black upper alongside dark purple details around the mudguard and outsole. 

The rollout of the pack saw artist Carlos Jiménez Varela showcasing each of the three sneakers in a real world location in line with his usual work showcasing what a sneaker the size of a building may look like it it were dropped from the sky, each with amazing detail and flare. Featuring a range of locations including a forest, snowy mountains and a desert with a small sanitisation team over the shoe, the marketing provides a fresh take on a sneaker release.

The sneakers are due to be available exclusively through Salahe's new brand ‘Be a Sponge’. With little information currently known about the venture, it appears that future collaborations and exclusive projects will be sold there.

While the 574 YURT has been met with a mixed response, Salehe’s refreshing and innovative take on sneaker collaborations is promising. Working alongside New Balance to create impactful projects alongside the likes of Joe Freshgoods, it’s only a matter of time to see what’s next from the partnership. 

For all the latest releases from Salehe Bembury and New Balance, check out our 'New Arrivals' page.