The Father of Dad sneakers

iconic piece: New Balance
New Balance, New Era
BY Anssi Karjala

New Balance, a brand renowned for its commitment to quality and comfort, has carved out a unique niche in the sneaker world.

With a history that spans over a century, New Balance sneakers have evolved from orthopedic aids to cultural icons, beloved by athletes, fashion enthusiasts, and everyday wearers alike. In this blog, we’ll delve into the rich lore of New Balance, explore its most iconic sneaker models, and offer insights on how to style these timeless kicks.

The Lore of New Balance: A Legacy of Innovation

Early Beginnings

New Balance was founded in 1906 in Boston, Massachusetts, by William J. Riley. Initially, the company focused on producing arch supports and orthopedic shoes designed to provide better balance and comfort.

The name "New Balance" was inspired by Riley’s observation of chickens' perfectly balanced three-toed feet, which he used as a model for his arch support designs.

Evolution into Athletic Footwear

The transition from orthopedic products to athletic footwear began in the 1930s. New Balance started producing custom-made running shoes for athletes, emphasizing comfort, support, and performance.

This focus on innovation and quality quickly set New Balance apart in the burgeoning athletic shoe market.

The 1970s Running Boom

The 1970s marked a significant turning point for New Balance. The brand capitalized on the running boom of the decade, introducing the legendary New Balance 320 in 1976.

This model, with its superior comfort and performance, earned the title of the best running shoe by Runner’s World magazine, cementing New Balance’s reputation in the athletic world.

Commitment to Made in USA

One of the distinguishing features of New Balance is its commitment to manufacturing a portion of its sneakers in the United States.

This dedication to domestic production has fostered a loyal customer base that values quality craftsmanship and ethical production practices.

Iconic New Balance Sneaker Models

New Balance 990 Series

The 990 series is perhaps the most iconic line from New Balance. Introduced in 1982, the original 990 was the first athletic shoe to feature a three-figure price tag, highlighting its premium quality and innovative design.

Over the decades, the 990 series has evolved through various iterations, each maintaining the core principles of comfort, stability, and performance.

  • Design: Classic, minimalist design with a focus on support and durability.
  • Materials: High-quality suede and mesh upper with an ENCAP midsole for stability.
  • Colorways: Traditional grey is the most iconic, but the 990 series also comes in a variety of colors.

New Balance 574

The 574 is another legendary model that has transcended its athletic origins to become a fashion staple. Launched in 1988 as a running shoe, the 574 quickly gained popularity for its versatility and timeless design.

  • Design: Retro silhouette with a balanced mix of suede and mesh.
  • Materials: Durable suede and mesh upper with an EVA midsole for cushioning.
  • Colorways: Classic navy and grey, along with seasonal variations.

New Balance 1500

Introduced in 1989, the 1500 is known for its premium craftsmanship and superior performance. It has become a favorite among sneaker enthusiasts for its stylish design and high-quality materials.

  • Design: Sleek, streamlined design with intricate detailing.
  • Materials: Premium leather and mesh upper with a REVlite midsole for lightweight comfort.
  • Colorways: Classic white/blue, grey, and limited-edition collaborations.

New Balance in Popular Culture

Streetwear and Fashion Collaborations

New Balance has successfully bridged the gap between sportswear and streetwear. Collaborations with designers, artists, and fashion brands have elevated New Balance sneakers to new heights in the fashion world. Notable collaborations include partnerships with J.Crew, Aimé Leon Dore, and Bodega, each bringing unique design elements and exclusivity to classic New Balance models.

Celebrity Endorsements

Celebrities and influencers have also played a significant role in popularizing New Balance sneakers. Figures like Steve Jobs, who famously wore the New Balance 992, and contemporary celebrities like Kawhi Leonard and Jaden Smith have helped maintain the brand’s relevance across generations.