How New Balance is quickly becoming one of the coolest brands around
One of the biggest trends over the last two years has been an increase in popularity for New Balance shoes. Steadily reaching more and more consumers each release, the brand has quickly gone from a classic sneaker staple to the hottest new craze. But how exactly has New Balance quietly become one of the coolest sneaker brands around? There are a couple of factors, but one reason stands out as the most significant- the talent that New Balance has been able to secure.
Photo: Joe Freshgoods
Firstly, New Balance’s work with collaborators like Bodega, Joe Freshgoods, and Kith has been able to persuade sneaker fans to care about what New Balance is doing. For example, Joe Freshgoods latest release, which was his take on the New Balance 990v3, first released exclusively in Chicago, alongside a thought-out “Outside Clothes” advert. This got the attention of sneaker blogs, and together with Joe Freshgood’s large following, by the time the shoes hit stores worldwide everyone had taken notice of the sneaker. By creating an amazing design, and being smart about its release, Joe Freshgoods and New Balance punched their ticket to a top 10 sneaker of the year nomination.
Photo: Salehe Bembury
Similarly, Salehe Bembury’s product quality, and the freedom that New Balance have given him, has helped the brand get the attention and respect it deserves. Bembury’s last two shoes with New Balance have both shared similar, fully fleshed-out themes of Arizonan natural wonders, with both pairs selling out instantly on release. Now with a third shoe on the way, each look of the shoe that Bembury has posted on social media has gone viral in the sneaker space, because people are already invested in what he has created with New Balance. Why? Just look at his sneaker’s boxes. His last three New Balance collaborations all share the same art style but portray their shoe’s unique inspiration. Considering how many orange Nike boxes we all own, this level of thought even on the sneaker’s boxes is a large part of Bembury’s appeal.
But New Balance has also been great at working with several wonderful collaborators. From brands like Kith and Bape whom are veterans in the sneaker collaboration game, to working with smaller and cooler brands like JJJJound and Aime Leon Deore. The range in creative minds that have offered their help to New Balance over the last few years is astounding and has prevented consumers from growing tired of the brand’s increased use of collaborations.
Photo: New Balance
The in-house designers are also just as important, who have consistently been creating refreshing new styles and have grown the brand’s appeal to a new crowd of sneaker fans. Charlotte Lee for example is the designer behind the New Balance 327 and more recently, the XC-72. The 327 in particular, however, has been a smash-hit, offering an innovative approach on 70’s New Balance runners like the 320 and the 355. The sleek unisex style brings back the big “N” logo and flaunts a look that has broadened New Balance’s appeal to a wider range of consumers.
And one of the most anticipated New Balance’s this year was actually a general release collection designed by New Balance employee Yue Wu. Known as the “Protection Pack” albeit not by Wu’s choice, the collection of 3 different New Balance 2002R colorways were unlike any shoes New Balance had previously made. Taking inspiration from fans of the brand who wear their NB’s until they fall apart, the shoe featured jagged edges on a suede upper that looked as if they had been ripped up. After images of the shoe went viral in early 2021, the hype would only build until their eventual release, with thousands of people lining up worldwide to snag a pair.
Photo: New Balance
Lastly, New Balance has been clever in securing marketable stars to wear their products and introduce their own fanbase to the brand. Jaden Smith for example was added to New Balance’s roster in 2017 and has since made his own shoe, the New Balance Vision Racer. But he also has been a consistent feature and voice of New Balance’s ads focused towards the younger generation, with his likeness being a key part in their subtle rebranding as more than just the shoes your parents wear.
Sydney McLaughlin and Coco Gauff have helped accomplish this as well, and their talent and growing media attention means they will both continue to keep New Balance’s name in the footwear conversation at the highest level of sports. It is also worth mentioning that Sadio Mane and Raheem Sterling have been playing a key role in repping the American brand overseas, in the most-watched football (soccer) league in the world. Lastly, New Balance’s recent foray into basketball has been a surprising success, and Kawhi Leonard has played a huge part in this. This is thanks to Kawhi winning the 2019 NBA championship right as New Balance were releasing their first basketball silhouette, resulting in the models first few pairs selling out instantly. Overall though, his on-court ability and lovable persona has proved to be yet another example of how New Balance’s talent have played such a key role in the brand’s recent success.
As always, if you are lucky enough to own any of the pairs mentioned above- protect them with Pumps & Kicks- the ultimate sneaker display cases.
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