“I was very familiar with how shoes made me feel from an early age, so I knew that I wanted to be a part of it,” sneaker designer Salehe Bembury recently told The New York Times. “They made me feel powerful, they made me feel like I could fly.”
The LA-based Bembury's newest collab, the 574 YURT with New Balance, can't make you fly. But they do come with a whistle on the heel, which can help you corral your hiking crew, scare off crazed wild animals (if you whistle hard enough) or annoy your friends in a carpool. Your call.
Hikes, particularly in LA, where Bembury moved to for a job on Kanye West's YEEZY design team, have inspired a handful of his shoes since leaving Versace (where he was VP of Footwear Design) last December. It was when the work stopped that Bembury began appreciating the natural landscape.
"It was almost as if I looked up and noticed my surroundings. I started hiking everyday, camping often, and made nature a consistent part of my life," Bembury told Bodega. "The drastic change in environment has affected my design work consciously and subconsciously in a very positive way. I would argue that nature and more specifically National Parks of the Southwest is the foundation of my New Balance collaboration."
Bembury, fresh off a successful collab with Anta, views the 574 YURT as a pivotal release — one that combines his love for sneakers and the outdoors, while showcasing his insatiable design curiosity. The latter is what lead him to the whistle idea.
Bembury would kit himself out for these hikes, which usually included friends (or interviewees, as he'd ask them questions and post the conversations on his Instagram Stories). Complete with a bluetooth speaker, weighted vest and whistle to ward off coyotes, he'd ascend LA's local parks.
His Antas were once his go-to hiking sneaker but the new 574s might soon replace them. They feature a beefier outsole to stock 574s, a new cushioned midsole and durable suede and mesh upper overlays. (And, of course, the whistle on the heel.)
Now, wearers — Bembury included — can kill two birds with one stone: Trek a trail, reach the top, wipe off the whistle and serenade a silent trail (or scare off coyotes, of which there are several hundred thousand in California).
The 574 YURTS in both colors, Forest Green and Shark Skin, are available via New Balance's online store on October 22nd at 10 AM EST.