New Balance “Liberty, Justice & Freedom”
In early 2011, I started a new journey and began to develop what now is The Boylston Trading Company. Fresh off the success of the New Balance x Concepts project (The Kennedy 999), my relationship with NB was in a great place. The office is near by and the lifestyle product team and I had become close over the few years of working together. It was a no brainer and took little discussion to agree another collaboration was appropriate.
As always, the first convo is “what shoe and why?”.
NB was looking to re-intro the 1600, which was popular in Japan, into the states with a special project. I had no issue with that. Good shoe, nice shape and great panel placement for me to get busy on. It was a plus that no one used the shoe in any other colab situations.
I went to work and the “Liberty, Justice & Freedom” 3-shoe project was born. “Liberty & Justice” was to have a normal distribution situation with the “Freedom” slated to be released as a Friends & Family only shoe. The release date was tentatively set for around Independence Day. This design process was smoother and more refined than any other project I’ve ever done with the NB team (or any other company) moving like a well-oiled machine. Amazing selections of leathers and suede were presented to me and I chose incredible materials. Straight butter. My design incorporated a star emboss motif (my favorite feature!) that was executed near flawless on the first round of samples.
Now this is when things took a turn. In November 2011, the unfortunate news was broken to me that due to some misunderstandings and Boston retail politics, arguably my best project to date had to be cancelled. Relationships, other’s insecurities and red tape became the death of an amazing, well thought out and beautifully executed project.
Believe me I was fucking mad and extremely disappointed.
I don’t work to cancel out the next man’s progress and do not plan my projects to clash with retailers in my city or beyond. I work to grow and if my growth makes others uncomfortable, so be it. To me this was a travesty and a total cop out and no matter how hard I argued, pleaded and clarified – nothing could be done and no one could help (some tried and others…).
Either way, I love this project and feel like everything I’ve learned leading up to that point went into this design. I feel it’s my best project to date and wanted to make sure I shared what could have been.
All good though, the world doesn’t stop spinning and it’s BAU.
Peep the project, hope you enjoy and thanks for the continued support.
Look out for my next best shoe dropping soon.
Frank “The Butcher” Rivera
Photos: Billy Fischer / OWRD