It’s been a long time coming, but New Balance is definitely in the midst of a brand revival. I’m not gonna lie to you, there was period of time where I owned many NBs. I was living on my own paying off a car, rent, a school loan, sneakers weren’t the biggest priority for me. I just found NBs to be a happy medium of comfort and “style”. But as I grew older and my tastes changed the classic 574s stayed the same and I just never went back to them, to slowly realizing that I should probably throw these out cause I just got something new and I need space.
That was then and this is now and while they are still making weird runners and foam shoes that seem just like a poor attempt to keep up with the competition, New Balance is now starting to offer interesting options for a cooler, younger, hipper audience. And we a all started taking notice with the signing of Kawhi. His two models, OMN1 and 574, quickly sold out because they had bold design and color. Those shoes turned heads and captured the attention of a wider audience. It said we are more than dad shoes.
With the arrival of their Tokyo Design Studio, New Balance designs have been pushed to new limits beyond what anyone thought. Recently the Boston based company, teamed with six Japanese brands for their own collaborations (United Arros, N.Hoolywood, Beams+, nonnative, atmos and mita. While some more appealing than others and have their own story, the fact that they are experimenting should do them good.
Another collaboration announced this week was with New Era. They teamed up for a 997 and what’s truly unique about it is the removable/interchangeable logos and four pair of laces that it comes with, for endless customization options. It also comes with a matching hat!
Finally one more thing that I saw NB do to get me watching them again was their 30th anniversary of the 1500. Here is a quote from HighSnobiety:
“New Balance Japan presents the limited edition Sample Lab assortment of the 1500 and 1530, consisting of just 24 pairs. Colorways of the sneakers have been selected at random and packaged in a bag to hide the contents. Customers will then choose a bag to purchase, as the shoes will remain hidden until the transaction is complete.”
This is them saying you are going to buy something from us and you have no control and you are going to like it. It’s refreshing to hear such a confident voice from the brand.
New Balance is keeping their core audience and just expanding by reaching out to new audiences and positive results are starting to show. With some new designs, and limited quantity, they’ve created some hype around themselves to get the attention of more affluent sneaker wearers willing to look at their more premium priced offerings. If they can get their loyal base to slowly graduate up to those higher priced point sneakers and you are looking at a company that will start to compete with the bigger shoe brands.