New Balance (also known simply as NB) is an American sportswear company based in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 1906 by English-born William J. Riley, the brand is known for its comfortable, high-quality products.
Over the past 115 years, the North American institution has made its shoes in both the U.S. (Massachusetts, Maine) and U.K. (England). Since its origins as a company specializing in arch supports, the brand has enjoyed widespread popularity among runners, which began with the New Balance Trackster, the first-ever running shoe with rippled soles (1961), and continued well into the subsequent decades thanks to the New Balance 320 (1976); New Balance 990 (1982); and New Balance 1500 (1993), among others. (President Bill Clinton famously wore the pair during his presidency, which led to high sales of the model.)
Several popular New Balance shoes are rooted in performance-needs, but they’ve also gained popularity within the lifestyle space. Special collaborations with Concepts, Ronnie Fieg and Aimé Leon Dore have helped it gain footing within highly sought-after sneaker collections.
Recent years have seen the Boston-based manufacturer’s widespread popularity sky-rocket thanks to the “dad” shoe trend. In 2020, the Steve Jobs-approved New Balance 992 from 2006 experienced its first retro run since 2010. New propositions like the New Balance 327 – which debuted April 2020 in collaboration with Casablanca – have quickly garnered praise for their equal-parts heritage and modern design.
Elsewhere, NBA Champion Kawhi Leonard, who signed to the brand in 2018, has brought the company further attention, especially in the performance-basketball space. Leonard’s own signature shoe – the KAWHI – launched Fall 2020. Leonard’s sneaker has been succeeded by the Jamal Murray-endorsed TWO WXY, but much more attention had been payed to NB’s vintage basketball shoes. With the help of Aimé Leon Dore’s Teddy Santis, who was appointed Creative Director of Made in USA in April 2021, the New Balance 550 has become extremely popular.
Away from sportswear, the North American company has supported Covid-19 relief efforts with general-use face masks and footwear for healthcare workers.