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New Balance’s 2020 Highlight Reel

New Balance sneaker freaker highlight reel 2020

They’ve always been a perennial contender in the annual stoush for EOY sneaker honours, but New Balance could’ve very well fought their way to the top in 2020. The New England label came out swinging early, and continued to land killer blows seemingly month after month.

Introducing new models, as well as reviving all-time classics, New Balance have now positioned themselves as one of sneakersphere’s most beloved brands, garnering worldwide acclaim from , all the way to the contemporary ‘cool crowd’.

Things are changing. It’s time to embrace the New Balance world order.

992: The Comeback King

While many fan-favourite silhouettes returned in 2020, it was the New Balance  992 revival that had everybody talking come year’s end. Re-entering the fray after an agonising 14-year-long wait, the 992 made its presence felt with an array of GR colourways, and a jaw-dropping lineup of collaborations.

Kicking things off with a bang (and an L for many), the  Don’t Be Mad x New Balance 992 ‘Anatomy of a Heart’ had the sneakersphere head over heels on Valentine’s Day. The eye-catching collaboration put the 992 on the radar for many, and by the time subsequent projects with JJJJound and WTAPS were announced, just about the entire community was already madly in love.

And, to end the year with a proverbial cherry on top, New Balance came through with two OG colourways – ‘Grey’ and ‘Navy’ – releasing them in larger numbers for less opportunistic ‘heads to enjoy. Simply put, the 992 could do no wrong in 2020.  

Aimé For the Stars

Picking up where 2019 left off, Teddy Santis and his Queens label Aimé Leon Dore took their partnership with New Balance up a notch this year.

It was a vibrant start – literally – with a sporty and bright duo of 827 Abzorbs lighting up our feeds in March. The collaboration certainly was a head-turner, but it was a more minimal offering which would steal the show. 

Reviving the NB550, Santis threw open the gates of NYC’s court culture for the project, using the long-forgotten baller from 1989 as his centrepiece.

‘Took us a couple years and a lot of work to bring this shoe back,’ said Santis. ‘Everything about the 550s and what they represented felt like this would be the perfect romance to activate SONNY and the ALD grassroots basketball program.’

It was a certified slam dunk, further strengthening the ALD x NB collaborative legacy. We expect more big things in 2021.

Hittin the Hills with Salehe

Versace’s VP of Men’s Footwear, Salehe Bembury, has well and truly cemented his place as one of the sneaker world’s most intriguing designers, and he owes a lot of that stature to his death-defying New Balance 2002R collaboration.

Inspired by Bembury’s love of hiking and the Antelope Canyon, the fur-ocious colourway was a bona fide highlight among dozens of high-profile collaborations in 2020. Aptly named considering it debuted in 2002, the silhouette was decorated with hairy, orangutan-like suede uppers with open-hole mesh underlays adding depth.

‘The collaboration was inspired by my recent attraction and time spent in nature,’ said LA-based Bembury. ‘Since moving to the West Coast, I’ve really got to take advantage of all the National Parks in close proximity – Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Antelope Canyon, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite Park.’

Be sure to check out of Sneaker Freaker magazine for our in-depth insight into the psyche of Salehe Bembury. Out now at !

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