A full-page ad in The Sunday New York Times and two Instagram posts on Easter Sunday was the way New Balance and Aimé Leon Dore’s founder Teddy Santis chose to reveal the expansion of their relationship.
Santis, founder of the buzzy New York-based streetwear brand, has collaborated frequently with the Boston-based footwear label. Now he’ll assume the role of creative director of New Balance’s Made in USA brand, New Balance’s designation for product that has a domestic value of 70 percent or more. He will continue to produce his own brand, a New Balance spokesperson said.
On Monday, Boston-based New Balance provided more details on the hire, saying the two will kick off a multiyear relationship this year with the first product launching in 2022.
The collaboration with Santis is a first for New Balance, the athletic brand said, and is intended to elevate the Made in USA brand globally by tapping into Santis’ “influence” for its product design and marketing. New Balance said Santis “has firmly established himself as a leading figure in today’s contemporary fashion and lifestyle landscape,” and proven his ability to channel “the spirit and history of New York City into Aimé Leon Dore’s products, experiences and campaigns.”
“I was drawn to New Balance for the way it has built a business founded on values such as integrity and authenticity, rather than passing hype,” Santis said. “I see a tremendous opportunity to tell authentic stories with real people at the forefront, creating global campaigns that connect our core values with the world.”
New Balance’s collaboration with Santis is intended to advance the brand’s move to align with nontraditional creatives, the company said. Chris Davis, chief marketing officer of the brand, said Santis will “define the future chapters of New Balance’s rich heritage in craftsmanship. Made in USA is New Balance’s ultimate differentiator and the lifeblood of our brand’s authenticity in global style; it is most literally, the physical manifestation of what makes our brand unique. In collaborating with Teddy’s inspirational vision, we have the opportunity to transcend the norms of the athletic industry and elevate the next generation of premium global product.”
Santis was born in Queens, N.Y., to parents who immigrated from Greece. He founded Aimé Leon Dore in New York in 2014 and has worked with New Balance to reimagine a number of styles including the 550, the 1300, the 990, the 997 and the 827.
New Balance has manufactured products in the U.S. for more than 75 years. It owns and operates four factories in New England and one in Flimby, U.K., and in 2020 had sales of $3.3 billion.