For those of us who spend our days (work or play) on our feet, we should be eternally grateful to Mr William Riley. You’ve never heard of him? I thought not. Well, the chances are that you will have heard of the Boston-born company he established in 1905, initially to create shoe arches for policemen and waiters who spent their working lives pounding the streets and restaurant floors respectively. New Balance is now one of the world’s most recognisable trainer brands and enjoying well-deserved success and popularity.
Brands such as Nike and Adidas may have been more familiar among the masses for longer, but in the last few years, something just short of a phenomenon has resulted in gentlemen everywhere wearing pairs of New Balance trainers. And what with this recent talk of ‘normcore’ along with other irrefutable trends that seem to focus on the everyman, the now global company appears to be the brand of the moment.
It is specifically the ‘no nonsense’, gimmick-free simplicity of New Balance trainers that has appealed with such magnitude to so many men. The team regularly come up with and add to a gargantuan multitude of styles and colourways (the 996 is a personal favourite) that suit a variety of occasions and present themselves as must-haves to be relied upon for great quality, enduring comfort and style versatility.
Although Riley developed his first arch support in 1906, it wasn’t until 1928 that he designed his first running shoe. In 1972, entrepreneur Jim Davis then acquired the six-person team – on the day of the Boston Marathon in fact – and really pushed New Balance towards prominence. The mogul elevated the business to a global scale, maintaining a sharp focus on a high calibre of sports footwear and using pioneering technology to develop its countless models, including the iconic 990, 576 and 1300. It was at this point that the wheels were truly set in motion and over 40 years later the brand is not only still synonymous with excellent running trainers, but has also made the difficult leap to the world of fashion.
It is indeed this emergence within a fashion context that has led plenty of us at the MFM office to reflectively laude this classic trainer. As is the case with all good trends, the New Balance takeover appeared seemingly from nowhere and shows little sign of abating. Editors, bloggers, buyers and photographers proudly sport pairs at fashion weeks and tradeshows in London, Milan, New York and Paris. And this is without a doubt one of the easiest looks to recreate.
Here are a few ideas for how to wear your New Balances.
Nothing finishes off a casual look better than a pair of trainers and New Balance will ensure that the rest of your attire is complemented perfectly. Team a low-profile style with a casual sweater and a good pair of jeans (rolled-up selvedge denim for the ultimate relaxed look).
No longer must shorts and trainers recall the gym or a running track. This summer we expect to see plenty of sunny days awash with bright shirts – why not one in keeping with the Hawaiian trend? – and cotton jersey shorts worn with striking sunglasses and New Balances in the boldest colours going.
Work It Out
The suit and the trainer, once at opposite ends of the style spectrum, have now become the most harmonious and hip of bedfellows. Accountants and bankers might struggle to get away with this in the office but commuters have known about this trend for years. In any case, many New Balance styles look great with a smart trouser and casual shirt – ideal for the summer.
The Best Of The Rest
A Final Note
Forget about your Nikes, your Adidas or your Reeboks and go for something a little more distinctive which artfully merges comfort with cutting-edge design. Long may the adoration of New Balance continue: a brand that keeps its attention on high quality (interestingly, the majority of products are manufactured in the small Cumbrian town of Flimby) and great practical design. A brand worth knowing about and a brand worth wearing.