There’s a lot we love about New Balance, including its commitment to Made-in-America craftsmanship from its hometown of Boston, Mass. But its Black History Month campaign, which will be available online and in select retail stores on February 15, has got us more excited than ever. Partnering with some of the brightest lights of the next generation, its campaign features two of the most exciting young Black Americans with voices that resonate far and wide. Renaissance man Jaden Smith (son of Will Smith) and tennis phenom Coco Gauff front the company’s latest capsule, which features limited editions of two of its most iconic shoes and fresh, inclusive apparel.
Designed by a host of Black staffers at the company, the company says its inspiration stems from the African-American church, a historical source of comfort, stability, and radical change. Featuring royal purples and burgundies like the robes of a gospel choir, it accents them with braided cording and gold backing. Refined, playful, and reminiscent of Outkast’s love of marching bands, they’re a must-have for diehard sneakerheads and guys freshening up their footwear game alike. The color-blocked T-shirts and hoodies display the “My Story Matters” script as well as a small embroidered tag signifying the Black History Month capsule. A secondary release, aimed at allies, will feature the phrase “Their Story Matters.”
“We wanted to create a collection that celebrates the power of Black stories, both in name and design,” said Chavon Cham, senior product manager for lifestyle apparel and one of the main collaborators behind the collection, in the announcement release. “‘My Story Matters’ drives home the core truth that every Black story has value and deserves a chance to be heard.”
Jaden Smith, an actor, musician, and fashion influencer, is a strong face for the campaign. But for our money, we’re most excited about Coco Gauff. At 16, she’s already been in the world spotlight for years, and at 15, she was a giant-killer in professional women’s tennis. Smoking women a decade or more her senior, she represents the next generation of American tennis stars in the same way GOAT Serena Williams did in her youth. While Gauff has been featured in plenty of New Balance tennis advertisements, the “My Story Matters” campaign is her first major non-sports exposure, signaling how much the company believes in the value and reach of her voice.
While the “My Story Matters” campaign is the only announced apparel and shoe release commemorating Black History Month so far announced, New Balance has also pledged to financially support the Black Talent in Design and Fashion Fund, providing 15 scholarships, as well as joining the organization’s mentoring program. New Balance athlete and Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard has also announced a donation more than 12,000 pairs of his signature shoes to the nonprofit Soles4Souls, which will distribute them globally to underserved communities.
“We want to remind today’s Black youth that even in the midst of everything going on there is so much to be proud of,” said Jordan Johnson, another New Balance employee who contributed to the campaign. “We’re committed to ongoing involvement, mentorship, and allyship to elevate our collective voices.”
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