How a Footwear Designer Went From Working for Payless to Yeezy

No matter what field of work you’re in, we all have to start somewhere. For 30-year-old footwear designer Salehe Bembury, who’s worked with world-renowned brands such as Yeezy, Pyer Moss, Cole Haan and Greats Brand, the rise to the top was every bit as important as the end result.

After graduating from Syracuse University with a major in industrial design, Bembury’s first foray into footwear design was a stint with Payless ShoeSource. The gig wasn’t exactly glamorous, but Bembury credits Payless for providing the necessary experience and knowledge to flourish later in his career.

“Looking back, Payless designs every kind of shoe, so from an education standpoint, it was a great place to get my feet wet,” Bembury told W Magazine.

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By familiarizing himself with a variety of shoe styles at Payless, Bembury was soon able to use his newfound design chops across a wide range of footwear categories. His next role was with Cole Haan, where he was credited with helping design the brand’s highly successful LunarGrand, a shoe that blended a wingtip upper with the proprietary Lunarlon cushioning of parent company Nike.

The LunarGrand took off, and soon thereafter, Bembury found himself reaching out to Kanye West’s Yeezy camp. After exchanging several e-mails, Yeezy extended an invite for the New York-based Bembury to join the design team in California. He made the move across the country, and the rest is history. He has since gone on to work with West on the Yeezy Season 3 and Yeezy Season 4 footwear, which includes the recently released Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 v2.

Next up for the Yeezy line is the release of the Adidas Yeezy Boost 750 on Saturday.

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