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NB X Boston Concepts (Freedom Trail)

Date: September 16 2009

By: Sneaker Freaker

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When Concepts had the opportunity to work with New Balance for the second time on a shoe design, it seemed natural to source our inspiration from our home town of Boston. We also wanted to touch on both running and hiking in the one set of shoes. The 1500 was a firm Concepts favorite, but the second option was definitely open for negotiation when I sat down with Luis Navarro, who is a designer and product manager over at NB.

The 1500 was a firm Concepts favorite, but the second option was definitely open for negotiation when I sat down with Luis Navarro, who is a designer and product manager over at NB. While Lou was trying to sell me whatever he was talking about (sorry Lou!), I promptly inquired about this little bastard boot/shoe hybrid thrown in a corner that I had never seen before. It was the 875 hybrid with Rollbar technology – finally we had our second shoe! Luis was in, New Balance was happy and I was confident that Concepts would once again do something exciting and different. Next we turned to the quality of materials as inspiration. Why? Well to be Frank (Ha!), the multiple color-blocking craziness seems to be an obvious route that is overdone on collaborations, is mostly mindless and has never been our forte at Concepts anyway.

So as you can see, the 1500 and 875 hybrid are both styled in super-soft chocolate leather and suede with an off-white midsole and chilli-pepper red accents. Taking it back to Bean Town, those colors are in honor of the Freedom Trail, the organized rows of brick path and vibrant red paint that direct Boston’s tourists for two and a half miles from churches to museums to meeting houses, all of which played a pivotal role in America’s revolution.

With the utmost respect for the city we call home, and the desire to contribute to the evolution of sneaker culture, we want to produce product not for the sake of doing so, but with purpose and reason. I think we did just that. You heard ‘what and why’ straight from the Butcher’s mouth, now let’s hear what Mr. Navarro has to say about New Balance’s new shoe on the block.

FRANK 'THE BUTCHER' RIVERA

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Hey Luis. Let’s talk the unveiling of the new hybrid 875 model. What was the influence behind the new design?
New Balance has a strong heritage in trail running, and models like the MT575 & MT580 have given us the license to deliver our own look in the boot/trail space.

Was it important to keep it retro influenced?
It was important for us to keep our design language consistent with our heritage by staying true to our consumers.

What prompted the design of a hybrid runner?
We love the bottom of the MT575 because it is rugged, it has Rollbar and it speaks to New Balance trail running. For the upper we wanted something clean and sophisticated but in a true boot pattern. About six sketches later, we came up with the ML875 boot hybrid. We had three rounds of prototypes before finalizing the pattern we have today.

In your opinion, what do you think needs to change in the sneaker game, if anything at all?
We need to get back to the basics. We need to strip away all the hype and over-the-top product that in reality, is not even wearable. We have a saying amongst our team and it is, ‘Wear your shoes, don’t let them wear you!’ By that we mean that we are all individuals and if a kid is chasing a look just because it is ‘exclusive’ then they’re getting played by a brand or retailer.

Any upcoming top secret New Balance ‘going ons’ you could put us on to? What do we have to look forward to?
The rebirth of the 574 in Spring 2010!

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