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The New Balance X-90 Is the Perfect Blend of Form and Function

Date: August 03 2018

By: Adam Jane


Every once in a while, a sneaker comes along that captures the spirit of the times. Whether or not the New Balance X-90 will leave such a legacy remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure, the X-90 has been built from the ground up with all the right heritage ingredients.  

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Back in 1982, New Balance released a runner that would push the limits of footwear design to the edge. The 990 featured premium pigskin suede and the latest Motion Control Device technology. As the first running shoe to carry a triple-digit retail price, the 990 was a serious investment, but one that paid off handsomely for Jim Davis’s company. Thanks to an uncompromising focus on premium materials and innovation, not to mention timeless style, the 990 established itself as a legendary stayer and a progenitor of the ‘Dad-shoe’ trend. 

Through the 1980s, New Balance released updated versions of the formula established by the 990, giving rise to an expanded line that became known as the 99x series. While all three iterations that released in the first decade were all success stories, it wasn’t until the 90s that the 99x series really hit its stride. It’s this generation of game-changing designs that has directly inspired the X-90.

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X-90 Statement pack

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X-90 Statement pack

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X-90 Statement pack

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X-90 Statement pack

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X-90 Statement pack

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X-90 Statement pack

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From the 997’s ‘Hytrel strap’ from 1990, to the 991’s midsole window that debuted in 2001, the design references built into the X-90 span an entire decade of 99x evolutionary history. But the X-90 isn’t a one-note retro throwback. In keeping with contemporary standards of comfort and all-round wearability, the X-90 is infused with modern shoe tech engineered with an easy-going lifestyle focus. Let’s dive into the upcoming X-90 packs and see what New Balance has been cooking up.

The X-90 Statement pack snaps back to a time when pants were baggy and footwear was phat. Both designs take stylistic cues from 90s fashion with the use of blue, green and pink pops. Unlike the shoes of from that era, the X-90s has been slimmed down to a streamlined profile. To achieve this without sacrificing functional support, New Balance have used new-gen production methods, with a knitted bootie featuring on the black version and precision-cut nubuck on the white edition. 

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X-90 Modern Essentials pack (Men)

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X-90 Modern Essentials pack (Men)

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X-90 Modern Essentials pack (Men)

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X-90 Modern Essentials pack (Men)

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X-90 Modern Essentials pack (Women)

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X-90 Modern Essentials pack (Women)

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X-90 Modern Essentials pack (Women)

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X-90 Modern Essentials pack (Women)

The X-90 may suit the tastes of today’s generation of Insta-sneaker-stunters, but it hasn’t entirely given up the trademark chunky appeal of its predecessors. In reference to its heavy-set roots – and with a tip of the hat to today’s trends – the X-90 has been propped up with an accentuated midsole profile that cups the heel for added support. To get a better understanding of just how hefty that heel is, there’s no better example than the X-90 Modern Essentials pack. Drawing the eye down towards the sole unit, each colour scheme utilises contrasting colours to highlight the generously-endowed foam zones. The all-black version, which dips into the tried-and-tested formula for a killer stealth sneaker, is an uncompromising vision of toughness. Keeping feet free and easy, the panels have been cut from engineered mesh to keep things fresh while still providing the structure of a technical runner. Topped off with mini N-logos, the Modern Essentials pack combines the best of today with decades of laidback Newbie style. 


The X-90 wouldn’t be a legit member of the New Balance family without appearing in classic grey. The timeless tones associated with the brand grew out of their refusal to sell-out to fickle trends back in the 1980s. As the 99X range gained recognition for quality and advanced tech, grey suede became a symbol of New Balance’s technical and material superiority. To this day, looking good in a cool grey finish is an essential rite-of-passage for any rookie New Balance silhouette. 

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Return to Future (Men)

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Return to Future (Men)

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Return to Future (Men)

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Return to Future (Women)

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Return to Future (Women)


In keeping with the X-90’s refusal to stick to the status quo, the Return to Future pack flirts with the idea of grey, before spinning around and heading in a totally different direction altogether. At first glance, the two women’s colourways might seem familiar as they feature classic colour-blocking and grey-ish undertones, but closer inspection reveals subtle hues of dusty pink and ivory. The men’s component plays to tradition in a slightly more direct fashion. Emerald green suede is a no-brainer for New Balance nostalgia nerds and though perhaps not as instantly recognisable as the slate-based alternative, it always looks right!   

Though it may look like a fresh-faced young buck on the shelves of your local sneaker spot, the X-90 carries the gravitas of an old soul thanks to its impeccable performance pedigree. From heel to toe, the X-90 design has been forged from 99x DNA, yet every thread has been stitched with a contemporary edge. 

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