Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Jaden Smith and Coco Gauff Celebrate Black Voices in New Balance’s Collection

Image used with permission by copyright holder

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 My Story Matters 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.

Related Guides

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.”

New Balance

“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.

New Balance

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.”

Editors' Recommendations

Jon Gugala
Features Writer
Jon Gugala is a freelance writer and photographer based in Nashville, Tenn. A former gear editor for Outside Magazine, his…
Waste Not: FJällräven Reworks its Scraps Into a Durable and Enduring Collection
fjallraven samlaren clothing line ss21 bigsur acollectiveus web img 3425

If you've ever made sugar cookies (and what guy hasn't), you know that with even the perfect spacing of the cutters, you're left with a few scraps. The same goes with thousands of yards of fabric, which Swedish outdoor outfitter Fjällräven goes through in any given month. But rather than just dumping them into the ocean like other companies (an exaggeration, but not far from the truth), the company has come up with an ingenious — and completely rad — means of repurposing them. Enter its new Samlaren line.

Translated as "the gatherer" in Swedish, Samlaren is a limited-edition capsule that includes longtime Fjällräven favorites like the
Kånken
and the
Totepack
as well as introduces new products like a Greenland jacket-inspired outerwear piece and a five-panel cap. The through line is that rather than cutting them from virgin fabric, all are comprised of remaindered scraps or deadstock fabrics, breathing new life into old materials. The result is distinct, multi-colored pieces from a company long known for its monochromatic offerings that carry an environmentally friendly backstory.

Read more
This All-American Boot Brand Prepares Men of Color to Step Out into the Great Outdoors
season three brand profile 0

Established in 1890, California’s Yosemite National Park has awed visitors for generations. Whether looking out from the Tunnel View, down from Glacier Point, or up from the meadow at El Capitan, its vistas are expansive, uniquely American. Yosemite is the proper definition of a national treasure. Jared Ray Johnson has never been.

Related Guides

Read more
How Packers Legend Donald Driver Is Dressing the NFL’s Next Stars
donald driver moral code collaboration 8878 4retouched

Donald Driver has quite literally gone from rags to riches over the course of his life. The Green Bay Packers legend grew up poor and experienced periods of homelessness during his childhood in Texas, and he later reached the pinnacle of sports accomplishment when his team, led by Aaron Rodgers, won the Super Bowl in 2011. But it's been in his post-football life that the 45-year-old is making his greatest impact, and with his recently announced collaboration with cordwainer Moral Code, the former wide receiver is expanding his legendary reach further than ever before.

"My ‘moral code’ is: You look good, you feel good," Driver said in the announcement release. "The more confident you are in yourself, the more you’re going to be able to go out and create a style that’s unique and different."

Read more