When we talk about brands that have been around for more than a century, one of the top names that often come to our minds is New Balance. Known for its premium quality, trendy designs, and incomparable comfort, this brand has been capturing the hearts of many shoe enthusiasts worldwide.
And while modern New Balance shoes are something we all would love to own, its history is something that’s equally fascinating. Today, we will delve deep into the history of New Balance, discovering its origins and how it became a timeless classic.
What Is New Balance?
New Balance has been a leader in athletic and lifestyle footwear for over 100 years. Their shoes are designed to provide maximum comfort while also providing style. Not only do they create the perfect shoe for athletes, but they also produce shoes for everyday wear with their signature blend of fashion and function.
They have a wide range of products including running, walking, tennis, basketball, and lifestyle shoes. They also provide a variety of apparel, such as t-shirts, shorts, jackets, and leggings. No matter what your style or activity preference is, New Balance has something for you.
With their long history of quality craftsmanship and comfort technology, they are sure to make the perfect shoe for anyone who wants to stay active while looking stylish. With their commitment to providing the highest quality products and customer service, New Balance is a brand you can trust.
New Balance also takes an active role in environmental sustainability initiatives. They are committed to reducing their carbon footprint and using recycled materials in their shoe production.
Additionally, they partner with organizations such as The Conservation Fund and Sole of the City to support projects that help protect the environment. New Balance is dedicated to making a difference and helping to create a better world for future generations.
In addition, New Balance has always been committed to giving back. Through their NB Gives Back program, they partner with organizations and causes that are focused on improving communities around the world. From health initiatives to education programs, New Balance helps make a difference in the world.
New Balance is a brand that focuses on creating innovative and comfortable footwear and apparel while also staying committed to doing good in the world. With their dedication to quality materials, customer service, environmental sustainability, and giving back, they are sure to remain a favorite among those who want to look good and do good!
Founding Years (1906-1930s)
New Balance was founded in 1906 by a British immigrant named William J. Riley in Boston, Massachusetts. The company was originally called “The New Balance Arch Support Company” and its focus was on creating arch supports for people who needed extra support for their feet due to the frequent standing that many jobs required during those times. In fact, the original logo of New Balance featured an arch with the letters NB (standing for New Balance) inside.
New Balance quickly grew in popularity and soon began to produce sports shoes. They first focused on producing shoes specifically designed for baseball players, which made them popular among many professional athletes of that time. By the 1930s, New Balance had become well established in the US market and was growing into a global brand.
The company continues to be a leader in the sports shoe industry and has been sponsoring many international athletes for years, including NBA players, tennis players, marathon runners and triathletes. Through its commitment to providing high-quality products with superior performance technology, New Balance has become an iconic brand that is recognized around the world. New Balance shoes are known for their long-lasting comfort and durability, and they have become a favorite choice for many athletes.
New Balance is also dedicated to innovation and exploration. Its commitment to research and development has enabled them to create some of the most advanced sports shoes on the market today. They are always looking for ways to improve their products in order to give customers the best performance possible. This commitment to innovation and exploration has been the driving force behind New Balance’s success.
The Birth of the “Trackster” (1940s-1960s)
The vibe of the “Trackster” running shoes were popular among runners, particularly long-distance athletes. This style of shoe was revolutionary for its time and provided a level of cushioning that had yet to be seen in athletic footwear.
New Balance’s patented sole design allowed for greater flexibility and stability while still providing the necessary support needed by runners. The lightweight design also helped athletes to gain acceleration and speed on the track or road. The Trackster was considered a revolutionary design in athletic footwear, as it provided unprecedented support and cushioning for runners.
This style of shoe remained popular among athletes until the 1980s when other styles took over that were more tailored to specific sports. Nevertheless, New Balance’s Trackster remains an iconic style of footwear that has been a mainstay of the brand since its inception. It is said that the modern running shoe owes much to New Balance’s Trackster design, and this revolutionary style still serves as an inspiration for the latest advancements in athletic footwear.
The iconic “Trackster” style is now known around the world, representing not only New Balance’s commitment to providing top-tier quality athletic footwear but also the brand’s signature style. New Balance continues to strive for excellence in their designs, and has become a leader in providing performance-enhancing products for athletes of all levels.
The “Trackster” design is still revered by many people who enjoy running and want to experience the cushioning and support that this classic shoe provides. The legacy of the “Trackster” lives on today and is a testament to New Balance’s commitment to providing the best products for athletes. With its comfortable cushioning, lightweight design, and signature style, the “Trackster” remains an iconic part of athletic footwear history.
Niche Focus and Technological Pioneering (1970s-1980s)
New Balance experienced a period of niche focus and technological pioneering in the 1970s and 1980s. The company identified themselves as being different from other footwear companies due to their emphasis on manufacturing shoes specifically designed for runners with specialized needs.
This commitment to individualized attention was a major factor in their growth during this time. New Balance was also one of the first companies to utilize advanced technology in the production of their shoes.
They developed a sliding scale for width sizing and offered superior cushioning and support due to new materials. This focus on technological advancement helped New Balance stand out from its competitors and allowed them to dominate the running shoe market.
New Balance also invested heavily in research and development during this time, making sure that each of their products were of the highest quality. This commitment to innovation led to the launch of their most successful shoe, the New Balance 990 in 1982.
The 990 was one of the first shoes designed with advanced technology and featured a full-length ENCAP midsole foam layer for optimal cushioning. This revolutionary design caught on quickly amongst runners and helped cement New Balance’s place as a leading footwear brand.
The company continued to expand in the years that followed, introducing new products and technologies at a rapid pace. In 1988, they introduced the 992 which had two layers of foam cushioning and was designed for more serious runners who wanted extra support and shock absorption.
They also released their first trail running shoe, the 890, that same year. This groundbreaking design featured a rugged sole for added traction and stability in all kinds of terrain. New Balance continued to push the boundaries of footwear technology with their 801 line, which included an unprecedented air pocket cushioning system designed to provide maximum comfort and shock absorption.
The Evolution of New Balance Design (1990s-2000s)
The early 1990s saw a major shakeup in the design of New Balance shoes. After years of maintaining the same classic silhouette, the company shifted gears and began to embrace more modern and bold designs. This shift allowed them to remain competitive with other brands, while also giving their customers something new to enjoy.
The most important change made was switching from leather uppers to mesh upper materials, which resulted in a much lighter and more breathable shoe. Additionally, New Balance experimented with new cushioning technologies, such as their Air Cushion Sole (ACS), which was designed to provide maximum shock absorption for runners.
The 2000s were a time of continued innovation for New Balance. They released the 574 model, which is still popular today. This shoe featured a midsole made of ENCAP technology, which is known for its superior cushioning and shock absorption.
They also unveiled their ABZORB line of shoes, which was specifically designed to help absorb impact during high-intensity activities. The 2000s saw the introduction of the Minimus series as well, which aimed to provide the bare minimum in support and cushioning for those who prefer a more minimalist approach to running.
All of these shoes combined new technologies with classic New Balance style, giving customers the best of both worlds.
By the end of the 2000s, New Balance had established itself as an innovator in the footwear industry. They continued to push boundaries, experimenting with different materials and techniques to create shoes that were designed to meet the needs of a wide range of athletes.
New Balance has continued this trend into the 21st century, releasing new designs and technologies in order to stay ahead of the competition and keep their customers happy. As such, they remain one of the most popular brands of athletic footwear on the market today. In fact, many people consider New Balance shoes to be the best there is, which speaks volumes about their commitment to innovation and quality.
International Expansion (2010s)
New Balance’s global success story began with Europe in the early 2010s. The company got the attention of European athletes with its trail running and outdoor footwear, which quickly gained a fan base.
The brand’s small-batch production and attention to quality and comfort earned the respect of European consumers, and the company quickly expanded its reach. New Balance’s European operations grew from six to 28 markets, achieving significant revenue growth and profit margins along the way.
The company’s Asia-Pacific journey was equally impressive, with New Balance entering China in 2013, which showed positive results in the first few years. However, with increasing competition and counterfeit products, the company doubled down on its focus on quality and innovation to attract Chinese customers.
New Balance’s strategy of introducing a premium version of its products in China proved effective, and today the brand’s presence in Asia-Pacific is rapidly expanding with operations in five countries, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand.
As New Balance continued to expand globally, there occurred a shift in customer preferences. Sneaker culture, casual wear, and athleisure clothing became increasingly popular worldwide.
The company pivoted smartly towards catering to both sportswear and lifestyle products – the latter increasing the demand for New Balance products worldwide. Through innovative designs and collaborations with various artists, musicians, and fashion bloggers worldwide, the brand could maintain its presence in the sports world while becoming a streetwear staple.
In addition to focusing on global expansion, New Balance also worked on creating a sustainable business model starting in the 2010s. The company launched its first sustainability report in 2016 and took initiatives to create environmentally friendly products like “Regeneration Pack” and plant-based kicks.
By following the circular economy model, the company recycled valuable materials to create new products. These efforts focus on the long-term health of the environment.
Legacy of Iconic Styles
Sporting shoes play an essential role in the lives of athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Whether it’s running, jogging, or weightlifting, the right footwear can make a significant difference in performance and comfort. When it comes to athletic footwear, New Balance is a name that has stood the test of time.
The brand has been around since 1906 and has a rich legacy of delivering high-quality footwear that is iconic and timeless. In this blog post, we’ll explore the legacy of the iconic styles of New Balance that continue to impress athletes and sneaker enthusiasts around the world.
1. The New Balance 990: The epitome of comfort and style
The New Balance 990 is undoubtedly one of the most iconic and recognizable sneaker designs in the world. It was first introduced in 1982 and was revolutionary for its time. The shoe was designed to offer superior comfort and support to runners and athletes, which was a game-changer in the industry.
The shoe features an Encap midsole that provides excellent support and cushioning to the feet. The sneaker also has a classic, minimalist design that never goes out of style. Even after almost 40 years, the New Balance 990 remains a popular choice for runners and sneakerheads alike.
2. The New Balance 574: A classic design that transcends time
The New Balance 574 is another iconic sneaker that has stood the test of time. The shoe was first introduced in 1988 and was designed to offer both comfort and style. The sneaker is made from a combination of suede and mesh and features the brand’s signature Encap midsole technology.
The design of the shoes is classic and timeless, with a sleek silhouette that looks good with any outfit. The New Balance 574 has been reimagined in several different colorways over the years, making it a versatile shoe that can be worn by anyone.
3. The New Balance 327: Taking inspiration from the past, creating a style for the present
The New Balance 327 is a relatively new addition to the brand’s lineup, having been introduced in 2020. However, the sneaker has already gained a massive following among sneaker enthusiasts and fashionistas.
The shoe’s design takes inspiration from classic New Balance sneakers from the past, such as the 320 and the 355. The 327 features a bold, retro-inspired design with oversized “N” logos and color-blocking. Despite its modern design, the shoe still offers the same level of comfort and support as other New Balance sneakers.
4. The New Balance 1500: A sleek and sophisticated sneaker
The New Balance 1500 is a favorite among sneaker enthusiasts who appreciate classic, high-quality footwear. The sneaker was first introduced in 1989 and has a sleek, sophisticated design that looks good with both casual and formal outfits.
The shoe features a mix of suede and leather, with a subtle brand logo on the side. The Encap midsole provides reliable cushioning and support to the feet, making the shoe ideal for long walks or runs.
5. The New Balance Made in USA and Made in UK Models: A Tribute to Craftsmanship
New Balance has a longstanding commitment to quality craftsmanship. The brand’s Made in USA and Made in UK models are a testament to this commitment.
These sneakers are crafted using premium materials and traditional production methods, ensuring that each pair is unique and of the highest quality. The Made in USA and Made in UK models are also limited in number, making them a highly sought-after sneaker among collectors and enthusiasts.
Challenges and Triumphs
When New Balance started, they faced stiff competition from major brands like Nike and Adidas. The company struggled to make a name for themselves and stand out in the crowded market. In the 1970s, the CEO of New Balance, Jim Davis, realized that they needed to focus more on their core values and create products that satisfied their customers’ needs.
This led to the innovation of the New Balance 320 and 620, two of the most celebrated runner shoes of all time. These shoes became very popular among runners, which helped New Balance’s reputation grow, and it set a solid foundation for the future.
As New Balance continued to grow, they started expanding their product range beyond running shoes, which made them more versatile and enabled them to cater to a broader audience. However, this growth came with its own set of challenges.
New Balance began to struggle with the increased competition in the sports shoe market, particularly with the entry of new players like Under Armour and Puma. To counter this, New Balance focused on innovation and research, which resulted in the development of new technologies such as the ultra-cushioned Fresh Foam soles and Air mesh uppers.
Another challenge that New Balance faced was regarding their manufacturing processes. The company’s focus on value and local production, being manufactured in the USA, results in higher costs.
The brand had to find a way to compete with other brands producing in Asia who had lower production costs. This led New Balance to focus on product innovation by developing new materials and designs that increased their production efficiency, reduced manufacturing time, and lowered costs without compromising product quality.
Despite the numerous trials, New Balance has continued to thrive and is now a highly respected brand in the sports shoe industry. In 2019, the company generated a revenue of $4.5 billion, proving their resilience and expertise in the market.
New Balance has also established itself as the go-to brand for sports enthusiasts globally. They have partnered with world-renowned sports teams and athletes, which has helped to fuel their growth and boost their reputation as a brand that values excellence.
New Balance’s history is a testament to the brand’s commitment to quality, performance, and comfort. From its humble beginnings in a small Boston storefront to becoming a global leader, the company has remained true to its founding principles. New Balance continues to innovate, expand its product range, and conquer new markets. The brand’s legacy is long-lasting, and we can expect it to continue thriving in the years to come.