Brand 101: New Balance
With runners gaining more and more hype along the East Coast, we've seen New Balance shape into one of the more consistent and reliable brands in the athletic sneaker industry. While most people are aware of New Balance's steady rep with A1 quality suede and long track record of collabs with retailers Kith and Concepts, it's likely that you don't know how the brand's paced through the hype of trends, because to this day, New Balance is still relatively under-appreciated.
With roots tracing all the way back to early 20th century Boston, New Balance's founder William Riley began his business by selling arch supports to workers that had foot aches from standing all day. In 1960, New Balance releases the Trackster, their first high performance running shoe which offered a ripple outsole for traction and was available in different widths, something that was newly introduced on the market.
New Balance doesn't have a big history with sponsorships; they've always believed that athletes and track teams should wear their product because they believe in the product solely. Most retailers were skeptical about NB's unconventional way of offering different widths with different lengths, but the brand didn't let go of their DNA, because they believed in fit and performance.
Up until the 70s, New Balance had yet to establish a signature; that's when the 320 model was introduced and with it came the "N" logo. The 320 was instantly the best running shoe on the market and would eventually become the standard in performance as well a base for most of their later models. With the introduction of the 320, designer Terry Heckler began naming every new NB model with a number rather than a nickname, to erase any invalid first opinions on their shoes and allow the people to make their choice solely based on their running needs.
To this day, New Balance still makes a percentage of its sneakers in the U.S.A while retaining all of its American factories. Despite the price point of most these "Made in U.S.A" NBs being uncommonly high, you're paying for a classic running shoe that features what is arguably some of the finest materials that an athletic sneaker made overseas can only wish to have.