Jesse Williams Plays Salehe Bembury in the Designer's Latest New Balance 2002R Campaign

Jesse Williams recently said goodbye to Grey’s Anatomy after a 12-season run, but the actor is taking no time off — he’s gone from doctor to designer by starring in the campaign video for Salehe Bembury and New Balance‘s new 2002R collaboration. This marks the second time Bembury and Williams have worked together on a visual: the two joined forces for Bembury’s inaugural 2002R collaboration in 2020 as well, a shoe that was widely heralded as one of the year’s best.

Just like its predecessor, the miniute-long clip is full of goofy humor. It begins by showing a well-nourished forest and three empty glasses of water on a tree stump, before Williams — dressed in a Bembury-esque military jacket, custom pants and signature rolled beanie — walks into the frame from the right side, new 2002Rs on feet. While staring at the camera, he proceeds to pour water into each glass until it’s half full, then begins to tap on each with a spoon and knife, causing a beatboxer wearing Bembury’s first 2002R to appear from the left side of the screen and perform. The video ends with a close-up on Williams’ face as he tries (and fails) to conceal a smile.

“The Salehe Bembury x New Balance 2002R “Water Be The Guide” was inspired by a trip I took to Havasu Falls,” says Bembury. “The majority of my recent time in nature has been spent in dry weather climates. These environments spawn a particular color palette and gradient that I have become very attracted to. Additionally there is a stillness that can only be found in the desert. ‘Peace Be The Journey’ was inspired by this observation. However the moment I witnessed Havasu Falls there was a shift in the energy and aesthetic I was used to. The color palette immediately shifted, the stillness became injected with movement and sounds began to present themselves. This introduction of color palette and contrast in energy provoked me to explore the colors but more specifically, the drastic juxtaposition of cold and warm colors in the same environment. While some of my previous New Balance was inspired by stillness, this 2002 is inspired by movement. The pale open mesh was inspired by the sands that meet the saturated waters of Havasu, while the deep teal hairy suede represents the dramatic energy and moment of the falls. “Water Be The Guide” is the idea that everyone needs inspiration to find their path.”

At the time of writing, an official release date for Bembury’s latest New Balance 2002R collaboration has yet to be announced. However, early reports have it pegged for a late June arrival, and Bembury has opened the mailing list on his Spunge website as well. It’ll be one part of a busy 2021 for Bembury, who also has projects with Vans and Crocs in the works.

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A post shared by Salehe Bembury (@salehebembury)

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A post shared by Salehe Bembury (@salehebembury)

Elsewhere in the world of New Balance, check out the brand’s MADE “Version Series,” a tribute to the 990 line that’s set to be kicked off with a special 990v1.
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