2016 Highlight Reel: New Balance
There’s no doubt that New Balance have had plenty of attention this year. Hard core NB heads have had numerous occasions to drain their bank accounts, while plenty of uninitiated had reason to enjoy their first taste of the N. Ventures into unknown territory saw NB turn out some fresh tech and some innovative products, while old friendships and new connections turned out all kinds of crazy colabs.
The revival of the 580 is the exclamation mark of New Balance’s 2016. In celebration of the trail blazing off-roader’s 20th silhouette the 580 was the object of some heavy hitting colabs, a deconstructed version, a reengineered remake and a knitted makeup. The colab role call reads like a who’s-who of international sneaker culture, with names like mita, Packer, Wings + Horns, Coletteand Hypebeast. It’s good to have the rugged trail runner back on track.
When you step into the 99x-files, you’re getting into some serious stuff. There are crew out there with encyclopaedic knowledge of the series, so when Up There Store launched their 99x museum we were there to soak it all up. Counting backwards from 999, 998, 997 – the respective colab models from Packer, Concepts and J.Crew kept our wallets slim. The return of the 990v2 was a highlight among a load of niners, and the all grey 995 was a treat. The hybridised 997.5 received the most attention with a handful of GR colourways, two fresh Ronnie Fieg colabs and (of course) the greatest New Balance release of the year – the Sneaker Freaker x NB Tassie Tiger.
Back in early November New Balance came through with a crazy looking shoe that took us all by surprise. The MS066 was NB’s fervent foray into the future of sneaker manufacturing, with a full 3D printed cellular midsole and knitted upper. The production was limited to 40 pairs, sold exclusively through New York boutique Concepts. You may have missed out on the initial offering but we’d say this is a good sign for things to come.
There’s no doubt that New Balance have always been on top of their colab game and this year’s partnerships were no exception. Their Epic TR City Pack was a killer foursome of football inspired sneakers, each paying tribute to the locality of the select collaborators. Then they mixed up the footwear game by collaborating with Grenson and Danner – prolific makers of dress shoes and boots – which gave us some top quality product. UBIQ created a pair of 1600s fit for a king, Reigning Champ lifted the 530 game while Ball and Buck reimagined the gentleman’s 585.
The Call of the Wild
There was a definite wilderness theme to a lot of releases this year and NB were all over it. The Trailbuster Reengineered took us for a run on the wild side – while newly optimised boot styles – such as the 710, Niobium Boot and the Rainier Boot – helped us reach new ground.
Here’s the big one – New Balance have capped off the year by introducing the 247. The all new style is the product of decades of development and innovation, combining three of the best – the 1300JP, 998 and 576 – to create an all new super-shoe. The sleek, modern silhouette is built with history and infused with performance – illustrating the evolution of NB style. The super limited friends and fam drop had a production of a mere 247 pairs so the upcoming 247 Luxe will be a relief to all those looking to get their hands on the new silhouette. We don’t think that’ll be the last wee see of the new NB.