The New Balance 247 'Friends and Family' edition

The New Balance 247 'Friends and Family' edition

Dissecting The 247

Part 1: The Design Process

The New Balance 247 Luxe

The New Balance 247 Luxe

The athletic footwear industry has changed dramatically in the last few years. As sneakers evolved from pure sporting accessories into round-the-clock lifestyle staples, the concept of supreme comfort with an authentic heritage twist is redefining the next generation of footwear design.

Having experimented with the ‘Reengineered’ series that combined New Balance tradition with the best in contemporary tech, NB has upped the ante with the release of their new 247 model. Rather than chasing fickle trends, the 247 concept stays true to the principles of the Boston-based brand, while ushering in a fresh approach to collaborative design. As Shinichi Kubota, vice president of New Balance Global Lifestyle explained recently, ‘The 247 is the first new model created as part of our commitment to create footwear designed for our evolutionary concept – Style of Your Life.’

Innovative product starts with an innovative approach, and the 247 is the result of a collaborative process driven by the newly established Sports Style team at New Balance. Designers from the North American and European headquarters worked closely with regional offices to ensure a global perspective was tapped to trace and embrace the core principles of what 247 would become.

So let’s take a closer look at the 247 and unlock a few of its secrets along the way…

The evolution of the 247 design

The evolution of the 247 design

"The 247 concept stays true to the principles of the Boston-based brand, while ushering in a fresh approach to collaborative design."
First 247 mock-up using the 850 silhouette

First 247 mock-up using the 850 silhouette

The Innovation

Mark Godfrey, creative design manager at New Balance Europe, recently recalled the starting point of the journey. ‘The global product team said they wanted to create something specifically for a round-the-clock lifestyle that still encompassed the traditional design language New Balance is known for. We decided to build upon what we’d already done with the Reengineered program, but just take things one step further.’ 

After whittling down almost 40 different concept drawings into one final package, a streamlined silhouette with an elasticised ‘bootie’ at its core emerged as the standout. Designer Joe Walsh then experimented with a number of make-ups that utilised sleek lasts borrowed from New Balance’s performance division. ‘If we were going to move forward with that style of construction, we wanted to make sure we did it right,’ explained Joe. ‘We weren’t going to sacrifice comfort for aesthetics. That approach to sneaker development is something we really pride ourselves on at New Balance.’

The New Balance 1300

The New Balance 1300

The New Balance 998

The New Balance 998

The Classic DNA

In the early sketching phases, design elements from three iconic New Balance models – the 576, 998 and 1300 – emerged as distinct reference points. Brad Lacey, global design director of New Balance Lifestyle, outlined the origins of the design process.

‘The 247 design started after we had completed a huge dig through our own internal archive. One of the key things we wanted to accomplish was to help our designers, and everyone else at New Balance for that matter, become more aware about how special those original shoes were. As a result, the details of those really iconic designs were right at the forefront of the team’s thinking as they embarked on the 247 project.’

Breaking the 247 design down element by element reveals the subtle adoption of New Balance DNA. The shoe’s ‘throat’ – where the toebox joins the upper – is inspired by the 1300JP, a runner with cult-status amongst hardcore NB collectors.

Borrowed from the 576, the saddle ‘overlays’ are the key element that gives the 247 model that distinctive ‘New Balance look’, but the most recognisable component from the archive is the sole unit appropriated from the classic 998 runner.

The New Balance 576

The New Balance 576

Brad Lacey explained the logic of retaining that particular sole. ‘If you look at the 998 – which was released back in 1993 – it was a huge breakthrough at the time. The design combined all the best of New Balance’s technologies, especially the introduction of ABZORB, which took performance and comfort to another level.’

The final outsole design on the New Balance 247 'Luxe'

The final outsole design on the New Balance 247 'Luxe'

247 outsole pattern concepts

247 outsole pattern concepts

The Sole Unit

For a sneaker designed to suit an on-the-go lifestyle, the single most important component is comfort, so it’s no surprise that New Balance used REVlite for the 247’s cushioning.

Launching in 2012 in a string of high-performance models, REVlite is a super light foam that maximises comfort in both performance and casual applications. Paired with custom insoles, the 247 offers unparalleled comfort in a nimble, lightweight package. 

While the 247 clearly echoes the 998’s classic midsole contouring, the original outsole tread has been replaced with a trick hexagonal pattern that references current designs used in NB’s range of Zante and Fresh Foam models.

So while the upper design might be the most noticeable blend of retro and future aesthetics at first, the sole unit is what really bridges the gap between New Balance’s heritage and its current crop of performance innovations.

The Next Step?

The 247 is New Balance’s progressive step into the realm of modern lifestyle footwear. Specifically designed for individuals perpetually in motion, this is a contemporary vision that stays true to classic NB styling, making this a versatile sneaker that is the perfect 24/7 companion.