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This New Balance Collaboration Champions Diversity in Sneakers

Joe Freshgoods' refined, off-white sneaker celebrates Black designers within New Balance's ranks.

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The most covetable New Balance 550 thus far is Joe Freshgoods' 'Conversations Amongst Us,' an all-over off-white pair with canvas and suede accents. Not only is it pleasantly simple and understated in an ultra-luxe kind of way, but it's a part of Joe Freshgoods' evergreen diversity, equity and inclusivity endeavor of the same name. As such, Conversations Amongst Us is more than a collection or a colorway. It's a commitment.

"This project is a bit different for me. It isn't just an apparel and footwear collection," Freshgoods, a.k.a. Joe Robinson, says. "It's a timestamp and a deep dive into the importance of communication and community."

Freshgoods worked with the Black Soles, New Balance's internal product team staffed by Black employees exclusively, on every step of the sneaker's release — from designing them to imagining their packaging to crafting the ad campaigns, which feature Freshgoods and NBA All-Star Kawhi Leonard. Collectively, outside of perhaps both the Aimé Leon Dore and Salehe Bembury drops, this has been the most comprehensive New Balance collaboration to date. With two dedicated videos, both directed by Freshgoods, and in-person panels at sneaker retailer Social Status' event space, Be Social, the brand is clearly fully behind its Black talent — including Associate Product Managers Jordan Johnson and Kevin Trotman, who played major roles in bringing this collaboration to life.

With Freshgoods' creative direction, New Balance's is clearly betting on its Black customers, too. Thus far, outside of NBA agent Rich Paul, musical artist Jaden Smith or freelance sneaker designer Salehe Bembury, the bulk of the brand's most popular collaborations have come from white men — like Justin Saunders of JJJJound or Teddy Santis from Aimé Leon Dore or Ronnie Fieg from Kith. It's clear what "Conversations Amongst Us" means to both those that made it and those eager to order a pair for their own wear.

"I wanted to approach this from a different lens from how brands usually celebrate and spotlight Black people. Conversations Amongst Us isn't a marketing blurb, it's simply the truth," Freshgoods says.

Where to Buy the New Balance 'Conversations Amongst Us' 550

Joe Freshgoods' latest New Balance sneaker drops on April 15th at 10 AM EDT.

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    Joe Freshgoods 'Conversations Amongst Us' 550
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