Salehe Bembury, an American footwear designer whose name you probably heard of through his famous Crocs collaboration — the one that mimics the grooves of a thumbprint — is the latest designer to score a partnership alongside Moncler for its Moncler Genius collaborative platform. The long-standing project invites various designers to reinterpret Moncler’s rich heritage of outdoor functional designs through their own aesthetic languages, the most recent release being with Japanese brand FRGMT prior to Bembury’s outpost.
The now Los Angeles-based designer (initially in New York) started out studying industrial design prior to his flourishing career within footwear. Having a start at Yeezy and then Versace, he would then work his way up to become the Vice President of Men’s Footwear at the Italian label. He then started his own label Spunge and attributed those experiences as a springboard for ‘community building’ and exploring independence.
If it isn’t obvious enough, his design style leans into the organic. Utilising shapes and motifs that are natural and in colourful hues, he has carved a niche for himself by putting a literal thumbprint onto his designs — such as in the viral Crocs collaboration, that managed to land him in the spotlight for its unique design and silhouette.
Titled Moncler ēquipements, the designer’s collaboration with Moncler plays into his ardour for the outdoors. As an avid hiker himself, Bembury looked to the House’s archive, drawing inspiration from the brand’s mountaineering line from the 1950s and lensing it through his contemporary eye. What follows is a collection that falls right into the natural grooves of ‘gorpcore’ — a style that focuses on utilitarian and functional wear but is worn outside their intended use — but rendered in natural hues of burnt oranges, olive greens and earthy browns. Think quilted jackets and padded shirts paired with technical pants and leggings in shades of the forest in autumn.
The designer’s signature ‘thumbprint’ motif emerges as the quilted pattern of Moncler’s iconic down jackets and on the main body of the newly redesigned Tailgrip sneakers — a shoe that encompasses Bumbery’s unique eye for footwear alongside Moncler’s intrinsic value of functionality.
Following the hiking theme, the campaign sees a group of hikers shot among trees along a forest hiking trail. Shot by Hala Matar & photographed by Lauren Kim, “This campaign is a dialogue about humanising luxury. My goal is to harmoniously balance Moncler DNA with the heritage of the outdoors” said Bumbery.