FN 2020 Designer of the Year Salehe Bembury announced on Instagram that he was departing from Versace, and confirmed the news in an email to FN.
“Donatella [Versace] offered me a life changing opportunity, and Versace offered me a platform. Often, individuals that look like me are not put in the same position. This significant detail was not taken for granted and ultimately I hope that my role is used as a vehicle for progress. I am forever grateful for what was bestowed upon me and extremely proud of what we were able to achieve,” Bembury said in a statement.
In an email, Bembury stated he will be leaving Versace at the end of his contract period — which is the end of the year — “to pursue new opportunity.” Also, the renowned designer stated he will continue with his namesake collaborations, such as the ones he did in 2020 with New Balance and Anta, and has plans to launch his own brand.
After more than a decade of creating footwear for brands including Yeezy, Greats, Cole Haan and others, Bembury joined Versace in 2017, and most recently serving as its VP of sneakers and men’s footwear. Under his direction, the Italian fashion house has become a serious player in the sneaker game, with its super-sized Chain Reaction style, introduced in 2018, and more recently the Squalo and the Trigreca.
This year, Bembury delivered a new-look and outdoor-inspired New Balance 2002R bearing his name that released — and quickly sold out — on Oct. 23. He also revealed a pair of new silhouettes with Anta — the SB-01 and the SB-02 — that he confirmed with FN would release in January.