It’s no secret that Nike and Adidas have dominated the sneakers industry for several years, and only a few other brands have dared to challenge their supremacy. One of them is New Balance, who has held its own and kept itself firmly in the sneakers game by producing exceptional running shoes, basketball shoes, and other kinds of footwear that are praised for their comfort, design, and quality.
Like Nike and Adidas, New Balance has expanded their merchandise with various sports apparel and accessories. But did you know that New Balance had been around already even before Nike and Adidas were established? If you’re a fan of vintage footwear, there are plenty of options for you, including retroonly shoes. These styles are a throwback to an era when athletic shoes and trainers were made with high-quality materials.
You could say that New Balance is already a veteran in the sneakers and sportswear department. Established in 1906, New Balance has been operating for over 115 years now, producing iconic sneakers and apparel for some of the world’s most ambitious and renowned athletes along the way.
While New Balance has attained global success and fame, it also has the special characteristic of a brand that attracts a dedicated and loyal following.
Instead of the standard company history, we walk you through some of New Balance’s iconic retro models that have further raised its profile and made it a household name.
While New Balance has lots of classic sneakers, none of them encapsulates the brand better than the classic “Classic Grey” 574 retro model. It served as an introduction to the world of New Balance sneaker models. It was launched in 1988 as a trail-running shoe that went on to become one of the most popular casual sneakers ever produced.
The 574’s simplicity, affordability, and all-day and all-occasion capacity have helped this model earn a lofty place in the annals of New Balance’s sneakers history.
While most 574’s are made in Asia, you can find higher-quality pairs manufactured in the USA and the UK that are produced from time to time.
The 576 is another classic New Balance model with a more appealing shape and better quality, as it is almost exclusively produced in the US and UK. It was first released in 1988, the same launching year of their first model, the 574. It came as one of the last traditional New Balance silhouettes. It made a comeback in the late 1990s and managed to attract new fans in this iteration. One of 576’s most popular releases is the series of colorways as a result of the brand’s collaboration with luxury department store chain Nordstrom.
The higher-quality 576 iterations are mostly manufactured from the brand’s UK factory in Flimby. So, when you learn that a pair of New Balance shoes are made in Flimby, you can be sure that it is of premium quality.
The 577 model was also released in 577 and manufactured almost exclusively in Flimby. Because of its sleeker and more modern design, all of a sudden, its runners looked a bit more forward-leaning and high-tech. New Balance is also no stranger to providing footwear to the military, as it also issued the special black-and-silver 577 edition for the Israeli Army.
The 996 first hit the shelves in 1988 and since then, it has been manufactured almost exclusively in the USA, specifically from the brand’s Boston factory. It presents one of the cleanest and sleekest design out there, featuring a fast-looking build coupled with high-quality mesh and suede, usually with shiny “N” logos.
The New Balance 997 was one of New Balance’s re-introductions to its retro line. This model has also been manufactured almost exclusively in the US and features one of the most refreshingly nostalgic designs out there. The appearance resembles that of the 996 model but it doubles up on its shock absorption system, combining their proprietary ENCAP and C-CAP cushioning technologies with an unmistakable focus on mid-foot support.
Design-wise, the New Balance 998 didn’t stray too far away from 997, except that it has a noticeably smaller “N” logo. It boasts high-quality suede and mesh and a thick and supportive Abzorb cushioning on the bottom. The 998 became one of New Balance’s most popular retro models, and it even gained even bigger popularity with its “C-Note” colorway as a result of the brand’s collaboration with Boston-based boutique Concepts.
The 999, like many of its predecessors, has a chunky-soled design with every kind of style. The 999 has been manufactured mostly in Asia, so that explains the its relative affordability compared to the USA-made 998.
The design of the 1300 has a strong resemblance to the 996, but has the 577’s chunky sole. It was launched in 1984 as a top-of-the-line running shoe, with its introductory price tag a whopping $130 a pair. Yes, people were paying that much for a pair of runners over three decades ago! Like many other New Balance models, the 1300 survives by way of several iterations every now and then. One of the best-known colorways was the “Salmon Sole” version designed by Ronnie Fieg of Kith.