The world of sneakers, long dominated by adventure-type collaborations, is trading this model for a new era of long-term partnerships. Call it wrist season for the world’s biggest sneaker brands. Reebok signed a deal to make Kerby Jean-Raymond de Pyer Moss its creative director in September, and Adidas Basketball recruited Fear of God maestro Jerry Lorenzo in December. Today, New Balance is doing the same with one of its own longtime collaborators: Teddy Santis of Aimé Leon Dore. Over the weekend, New Balance announces that Santis is joining the brand as Creative Director of its MADE in USA sub-line.
The new creative direction will make the long-standing partnership between Santis and New Balance permanent. Santis has worked with the Boston-based brand before on a handful of shoes, including cracks on New Balance’s 990 model that everyone likes. You can expect to see a lot more.
But New Balance is also surely after something more elusive. “I was drawn to New Balance for the way it has built a business based on values such as integrity and authenticity, rather than hype,” Santis said in a press release on the new concert. Of course, the hype is one of the key ingredients Santis will bring to New Balance. Almost all of his collaborative New Balance sneakers resell for well above their retail price, while the ALD boutique in downtown New York is that city’s non-Supreme hypebeast hangout. Take a stroll down Mulberry Street and you’ll likely see Santis in the middle of the fray, interacting with the community he’s fostered. He will now be tasked with creating this on a much larger scale.
In fact, recreating the feeling of her hometown hero is key to her mission at New Balance. “I see a tremendous opportunity to tell authentic stories with real people at the forefront, creating global campaigns that connect our core values to the world,” he said. One of ALD’s signatures is its ad campaigns featuring these “real stories with real people:” rather than blasting the budget on well-followed role models, it hits the mark. fellow designers, local NY rappers, and her fashion friends to show off new clothes.
Design wise, New Balance and Santis seem more compatible than any other Boston-New York couple known to man. ALD de Santis season their pasta by pushing iconic American pieces through its New Yawk vortex – everything from Yankee hats to penny loafers are likely to end up in the designer’s collection. New Balance is a brand passionate about its American roots and the fact that it has factories in Maine and Massachusetts. The raison d’être of the line that Santis is taking over, MADE in USA, is in the name. The first products designed by Santis will arrive in 2022.
Just like the positions of Jean-Raymond and Lorenzo with Reebok and Adidas, this collaboration seems designed mainly to bring juice to the brand. While collaborations have become commonplace in the sneaker world, these long-term partnerships seem designed to inject a more constant stream of buzz rather than a moment of hype.