Salehe Bembury has joined UNINTERRUPTED as an in-residence creative director to lead the brand's apparel line. Bembury has designed for Kanye West, Versace, New Balance and Crocs, among others and he sat down with B/R Kicks for a Q&A:
1. How does it feel to be joining LeBron James and the UNINTERRUPTED team?
Frankly, it's an honor. LeBron and the UNINTERRUPTED brand have established an ethos of execution. Whether in sports, business, or storytelling, they sit on a plane all on their own. There is an opportunity to evolve their consumer products in a way they haven't tapped yet, and I'm excited to develop that with them. I have spent the last 15 years studying design and how it can be used to problem-solve. UNINTERRUPTED has nearly a decade of heritage, accomplishments and empowerment moments that will be used as ingredients to inform the product creation process. [SpringHill's CEO] Maverick [Carter] has essentially escorted me into a kitchen, laid out all of the best ingredients, and asked me to make a dish. There is no better circumstance that a designer could ask for. Many brands invest capital in fabricating a brand heritage, but UNINTERRUPTED's almost decade-long resume will act as the catalyst for the product we bring into fruition. Additionally, having the UNINTERRUPTED team as a resource to this endeavor will make the ride that much smoother.
2. How is this opportunity different from other partnerships during your career?
I actually don't think it's different. While all design problems are different, I approach them the same. If there is a design problem, you research, find your insight, and execute. So whether I am designing for Payless, Versace or UNINTERRUPTED, the design approach will not sway. I try to prioritize experience in my design execution. The feeling of the first time you see a product on your phone to the first time you feel it in your hand is essential. I've learned that "people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" [as said by Maya Angelou]. With UNINTERRUPTED, we intend to create product that leaves the audience with a "feeling."
3. What are your thoughts on the current collaboration market, and how do you make sure your approach is distinct and successful?
I enjoy having a conversation of product with a consumer that appreciates thoughtful design. It's that feeling when you reach into a new jacket and there's a pocket exactly where you wanted it to be. While Steve Jobs once said the consumer doesn't know what they want until you show it to them, I further believe the consumer does know what they want. They just haven't been offered it. I am excited to work with the UNINTERRUPTED team, LeBron, Mav, and [SpringHill's CMO] Paul Rivera to explore the potential of what we can accomplish as a team within this evolutionary chapter in their product line.