Bodega's Drew White is Here to Stay

The mind behind Bodega's collaborative kicks talks about his favorite projects.

Drew White is the definition of working your way up the ladder. He started at Bodega over a decade ago as a marketing intern before finessing his way into a role doing social media and PR. Over time his role evolved from getting people hyped for the product to actually making the product itself.

For the past two and a half years, White’s been designing the Boston-born boutique’s in-house label and collaborations.

Before I worked at Bodega, I would come up from Providence to shop there,” says White. “I was always familiar with the world that they operated in, and sneakers were a huge social currency thing in high school.”

Like many people who end up with dream positions at the intersection of culture and product, he got there by putting in the work and getting in where he fit it.

“I didn't necessarily see myself as doing design when I started, but my position evolved over time and it’s where I ended up,” he continues.

Just hot on the heels of Bodega’s latest release, the New Balance 990v3 “Here to Stay”, Drew White talks about five of his favorite projects.

Bodega x Reebok Shanghai Pack (2018)

“I'm going to say the Reebok Shanghai Pack because of everything else that went into that project as well. The build-out, the activation, and going to China for the first time.

The amount of opportunity that came out of that project beyond the shoes is priceless. I don’t know if that type of trip where [Bodega has] 20 freaking people in a foreign country together doing stuff will ever happen again!”

Bodega x New Balance 997S “No Days Off” (2019)

“The 997 is a huge part of the legacy of New Balance. But as we were sifting through the models that were available, they had this 997S. It was a little different than the traditional paneling of the 997, with more of a retro, athletic feel which is what we dip into with every project in a way.

It was the opportunity for us to claim that model and debut it. That's always a little bit more attractive because we can set the tone. How we see ourselves and New Balance is we want to emphasize what they do really well, but we want to give it our own flavor through the color palette and materials. Our voice and personality is controlled chaos. There's a lot going on, but it makes sense as a whole. We were just thinking of how we can make it memorable and have it stand on its own.”

Bodega x Clarks Patchwork Wallabee (2019)

“Clarks Wallabees are an iconic model that I grew up wearing. That was my dress shoe. I never was a fan of dressing up too crazy, but when I had to, I wore Wallabees. It was one of those projects that had a deeper connection to me and tied back to how I grew up.”

Bodega x Nike Dunk High “Legend” (2020)

“I would’ve been so excited to get a Nike at all, but the fact that this was the Dunk brought it to the next level. It was definitely a dream come true for me. I started with the jewel Swoosh. I’d never seen a tortoise shell one and thought that would be sick. So we took that foundational, nostalgic piece and then figured out which other areas to throw our spin on.

I had a lot of pressure on it, because of what that shoe means to sneaker culture and collectors. Even people who aren’t familiar with sneakers know what a Dunk is. There was a bunch of ideas, one was this Western, cowboy influence, the other was this idea of Americana and things that stick around forever —like baseball gloves or cowboy boots— then the tortoise shell Swoosh brought this element of street luxe that tied it all together.”

Bodega x New Balance 990v3 “Here to Stay” (2021)

“Our first time we worked with New Balance was around 10 years ago and this is our first made in USA collaboration. So, for that reason alone, it's a lot more significant. I feel like we earned it through taking on those lesser known models and proving ourselves through those projects.

When we got offered it, it was just perfect timing with our 15 year anniversary. It means more than just being another New Balance for Bodega. We wanted to be more reserved in how we injected ourselves into the model because it’s such a timeless silhouette. The idea around the colorway is how New Balances tend to stay around neutral grays that age over time and turn this sort of yellowish, olive tone, like ones you find at a thrift store. It looks like something that could’ve been sitting in someone’s closet for a while. We didn’t want people to look at it and instantly know what year it came from.”