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CNCPTS x New Balance 998 “Mint”: Money Green

October 2, 2013by Aaron Kr.
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World famous Boston retailer, Concepts, undeniably raised the bar for New Balance collabs with their 2011 “Kennedy” edition of the 999. The nautical-themed shoe gave a nod to Massachusetts sailing culture and the well-known Presidential family that called the state home, and while the inspiration may not sound so earth-shattering on paper, the execution of the shoe’s design was nothing short of exquisite, not only tastefully blending colors and materials together, but also going so all out on the smaller details in a way that not many shoes had before it. There had been plenty of great sneaker collaborations long before the “Kennedy”, but few went the extra mile on typical afterthought elements like the tongue label, lining, hangtag, etc in such a thoughtful way.

As a result, many other collaborating shops and industry creatives took notice and began stepping up the attention to detail on their own projects, effectively making the sneaker landscape a more interesting place for all of us. An even wider-felt aftershock of the Kennedy was the spark it provided to New Balance and their retro runners. NB has always had a faithful following when it comes to their classic silhouettes, but CNCPTS’ ravenously-coveted 999 masterpiece opened the eyes of a lot of sneaker consumers and blazed some significant inroad trails to the brand for many who may have been previously overlooking them.

CNCPTS had a tall order to fill when they went back to the drawing board for a follow-up. Not only was the Kennedy a nearly impossible act to follow, but the perfect storm of magic that made it such a phenomenon could never be captured so organically again.

By the time they released their SEAL edition of the 999 a year later, New Balance was a far less slept on commodity and there were plenty of folks ready and waiting to get their hands on the next CNCPTS x NB release. Inspired by the OTB Abyss II amphibious boot used by Navy Seals, the SEAL 999 offered a darker, more rugged look along with a water repellent finish to help cleverly bring the “seal” theme full circle.

For their latest New Balance partnership, Concepts will be hitting us with a one-two punch. You’ve already seen the recently launched “C-Note” colorway of the 998, inspired by the new hundred dollar bills that are on the way from Uncle Sam, but the NB fun doesn’t end there as the CNCPTS crew will hit us with an eye-catching complementary installment dubbed the “Mint.” Also a 998, the Mint takes a color approach pretty literal to its name, but packs a two-way meaning directly tied to its currency-flavored partner in crime. The shoe also pays tribute to a piece of their personal history with its nod to the 40th anniversary of The Tannery, the renowned Cambridge retailer that once housed the early days of Concepts years before they branched out to open their own stand-alone location in 2008.

The Concepts x New Balance 998 “Mint” will be available this Saturday, October 5th, exclusively at Concepts: in-store 7am and through their online store at 12 noon EST. In the meantime, get a detailed look at the eagerly anticipated shoe and some additional info on the project in the pages that follow.

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Sneaker News:  For those who may not be familiar, can you fill us in on history between Concepts and the Tannery and how this project came about?

CNCPTS:  Concepts originally started in 1996 as a vision to provide a new limited product but to mix brands of skate and snow with fashion brands.  It originated in the back of the Tannery location in Cambridge, Massachusetts and later moved to its own stand alone in 2006.

SN:  What’s the connection between your two 998 colorways and the story behind them that ties them together?

CNCPTS:  The first 998 the “C-Note” was based on the new hundred dollar bill coming out.  We wanted to do a b-side with a color that New Balance doesn’t use. So we made it mint to play off of the U.S. Mint.

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SN:  When you approached designing a shoe that’s inspired by the U.S. Mint, was it an instant no-brainer to do an all mint-colored shoe or were some other interpretations of the concept explored as well?

CNCPTS:  This was actually the only one we mocked up and New Balance did a great job on the sampling, so it only took one round.

SN:  Please give us a breakdown of the materials used on the “Mint” 998.

CNCPTS:  We used a suede upper with perf toe box and back panel.  It also features a peach tongue and 3m reflective N. The sole is white with a hint of peach and grey on the medial side.

SN:  You guys have become well known for your creative takes on the New Balance 999 model. What made you switch over to the 998 for this latest project?

CNCPTS:  The 998 is one of our favorite models.  We wanted to focus on Made in USA, as it only makes sense with how close we are to the factory.  Also, the stories tied in with it being made in the USA.  900 and up!!

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SN:  After such huge response and success with your previous New Balance collabs, do you now feel any pressure to live up to expectations when you embark on a new NB project?

CNCPTS:   We don’t.  We have a set plan and every release has been bigger then the next.

SN:  Concepts has collaborated with a wide variety of sneaker companies over the years, but is there something extra special about working with a fellow Boston brand like New Balance?

CNCPTS:   Yes, it’s great.  New Balance is like family so it’s always enjoyable to have the opportunity.

SN:  Hopefully it’s safe to say that there will be more CNCPTS x New Balance projects to come. Are there any more goodies already in the pipeline for later this year or 2014?

CNCPTS:  New things are always in the works…

A big thanks to the CNCPTS crew!  Start getting your gameplans in order for the launch of the “Mint” New Balance 998, releasing exclusively in-store and online at Concepts this Saturday, October 5th. These will be going fast!

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