It is no secret to the diehard sneakerheads amongst us; New Balance is quickly becoming one of the must-have sneaker brands around today. However, this success isn’t by fluke, with the creatives behind New Balance knowing precisely what they are doing with the infamous dad shoe.
New Balance’s Senior Manager of Global Collaborations, Joe Grondin, has rustled up the perfect recipe for what we collectors want to see from sneaker collabs. A unique blend of fashions finest linking with NB has left the people clamouring for more with each release that passes. I deep dive into my favourite collaborative efforts from New Balance so far this year, with some honourable mentions at the end that just missed the list.
PAPERBOY PARIS x NEW BALANCE 992
One of my favourite collaborations to come out of the New Balance camp this year is the truly unique link-up we saw with Parisian brunch connoisseurs Paperboy. A shop made famous thanks to its eye-catching egg rolls and exciting collaborations with various fashion houses, Paperboy linked up with the powers that be at New Balance for their version of the 992. A silhouette already drenched in history, the 992 has become a mainstay in every sneakerheads rotation. So what could Paperboy Paris do to capture the imaginations of its peers?
The team decided to draw inspiration from, well, themselves. Who knew that a fried egg-themed sneaker is just what this industry needed. The silhouette combines white, cream and grey hues throughout the design with pops of yolk-like yellow on the lace eyelets. You will find fried eggs on the shoe’s tongue, whilst the iconic Paperboy Paris logo features on the heel. Teaming up with a cafe in Paris shows just how off the beaten path New Balance and Grondin will go to find their collaborative partners. I cannot wait to see this dynamic duo join forces again.
SALEHE BEMBURY x NEW BALANCE 2002R
Salehe Bembury shot to fame thanks to his tremendous sneaker designs at the Italian fashion label Versace. Having created the Versace Chain Reaction sneaker, Bembury moved on from Versace and has since shut down the sneaker game with his artistic efforts with New Balance.
He would take over the New Balance 2002R, a somewhat forgotten about silhouette before Bembury’s collaboration. The latest version, named ‘Water Be The Guide’, features a vibrant teal colourway complemented by green and pink accents. The aquatic journies the sneaker is inspired by is clear to see by all, with the wavy design catching the eye of collectors across the globe. Bembury has since teased his next New Balance, an unusual take on the NB 574, on Instagram over the last week. Keep your eyes peeled for this, and his finger-print inspired Croc, both coming soon.
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JOE FRESHGOODS x NEW BALANCE 990v3
Joe Freshgoods has been working with New Balance for quite some time now. He linked up with NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard for the ‘No Emotion Is Emotion’ campaign. A campaign that saw Joe Fresh release a valentines-inspired New Balance 992. The sneaker pretty much shut down Chicago, with resale prices sitting well over the £1000 mark today. Fast-forward to today, and Freshgoods once again causes havoc amongst the streets of Chicago when releasing his version on the 990v3.
Nicknamed ‘Outside Clothes’, the sneaker features a combination of brown and sky blue across the uppers. The heel features the shoe’s name embroidered in a grassy green hue, with the initials JFG also present. The silhouette featured on Sneaker Freakers 45th edition and sent the sneaker world into a frenzy. The shoe finally saw a release on Friday 10th September, selling out instantly. With the monumental success that both Joe and New Balance find with their collaborative efforts, I cannot wait to see what the two rustle up next.
AIME LEON DORE x NEW BALANCE 550
New York is really flying the flag for New Balance this year, with Aime Leon Dore getting in on the action. ALD would bring the vintage basketball sneaker, the 550, out of retirement in 2020. One year later, Teddy Santis would release two more colourways, much to everybody’s satisfaction.
The 550 has become the must-have sneaker for moodboards far and wide. The vintage aesthetics perfectly complement the retro design of the 550, with Aime Leon Dore’s campaigns further solidifying the OG nature of the shoe. After the success of this silhouette, Teddy turned his attention to the high-top version. The 990 is scheduled to drop in 2022. Santis has since arrived as Creative Director of New Balance. I expect this move will result in many more forgotten about silhouettes returning in some unbelievable colourways. Watch this space.
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BODEGA x NEW BALANCE 990v3
The Bodega store has been in operation since 2006, curating the finest selection of sneakers and streetwear and bringing it to the masses. The store has opened locations in Boston and LA, too, with the Boston store looking exactly like a New York City bodega (minus the chopped cheese). That Boston-New York connection must’ve helped when it came down to creating the Bodega x NB 990v3.
The 990v3 is one of New Balance’s best silhouettes but was discontinued a few years back. Fortunately, the shoe returned for Bodega’s 15th-anniversary celebration. Chocolate brown covered the uppers with teal details contrasting the design perfectly. The shoe is dubbed the 990v3 ‘Here to Stay,’ possibly alluding to Bodega or the return of this retro silhouette. Either way, I hope that both will be around for a long, long time.
NEW BALANCE, HERE TO STAY
So, there you have it, my top five New Balance collaborations of 2021 so far. I have to be honest; it is difficult to pick just five from the outstanding back catalogue of NB. Levi’s have developed some phenomenal sneakers with New Balance in recent months, with the denim-covered 992 a particular favourite. UK sneaker store Size? joined forces with the Boston sneaker experts to create a one-of-a-kind 550, which came covered in their iconic orange hue.
South Central LA brand Bricks and Wood helped release the brand new silhouette, the 57/40. The sneaker saw a minimal release in South Central, showing that New Balance does care about ensuring their target audience obtains the sneakers they are chasing.
The truth be told, there hasn’t been a New Balance collaboration this year that I haven’t liked. Sure, some silhouettes have pushed the boundaries of design, like the new collab with Casablanca, the XC-72. But this shoe draws clear inspiration from F-1, something evident in the shoe’s appearance.
The above releases have come and gone, with many of us sneakerheads, unfortunately, missing out on grabbing a pair. But fear not; that does not mean all hope is lost. In the coming months, two unbelievable collaborations are scheduled to release. Canadian moodboard JJJJound rekindles its relationship with New Balance to release a 990v4, pictured below.
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Everyones favourite online streetwear community-turned-streetwear brand ‘The Basement‘ is no stranger to sneaker collaborations, having worked with Nike previously. They also got together with NB for a winter weather appropriate take on the 2002R. Two colourways are scheduled to drop in the not too distant future and are a certified must-cop.
If you are only just starting to collect New Balance sneakers, I hope my list helps you decide your next purchase. The two silhouettes above is a fantastic place to start.
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