The sneaker and athletic shoe market has long been dominated by a few top brands that managed to pull away from the crowd such as Nike, Jordan and Adidas. These companies have turned themselves into sneaker powerhouses, sponsoring some of the biggest sports brands imaginable, and garnering a huge following for their efforts.
As many athletes and sneakerheads will tell you, though, brand popularity and hype does not necessarily translate to great quality and impressive fit. And this is where New Balance has thrived. Staying firmly in a place between popularity and recognition, the brand continues to remain relevant in the sneaker world.
How has that feat been managed? The answer is an unchanging philosophy.
Founded in 1906 in Boston, New Balance has produced many different shoe models over the years, reacting to technological changes and public perception. One thing that has remained unchanging, however, has been the company’s original philosophy. This philosophy has always been centered around producing the best quality product, regardless of the cost, that could sell for top dollar.
The company initially started out producing and selling shoe arch support. And while its arch support was one of the priciest on the market, it was soon a favorite of policemen and firefighters who recognized its quality. By 1938 when the company made its first pair of sneakers, New Balance already had plenty of experience with arch support that they set out to make sneakers that were “more comfortable and serviceable” than other existing brands.
And that is exactly what they have been doing till date! From the sneaker aesthetics to its fit, balance and comfort, New Balance has remained an industry leader, producing shoes from only premium materials. And even as many sneaker brands have shifted production completely to the Far East, New Balance has retained a major presence in the West with five factories in New England, and another factory in Flimby, U.K. guaranteeing there’s no drop-off in quality for increased revenue.
A brand for the people
Part of what makes New Balance truly unique is its incredible personal touch, a quality sorely lacking in the rest of the industry. Recognizing unique individual characteristics, New Balance produces their sneakers in the widest range of sizes imaginable. Where many brands only produce “standard” or “popular” sizes, and maybe a few medium ground sizes, New Balance makes shoes in virtually every size imaginable.
New Balance shoes come in multiple variations: walking, running, training, lifestyle, medical, etc., designed to meet whatever needs you might have. They are highly sought after in the medical world for the different shoe variations they make for persons with all kinds of foot abnormalities and disorders.
Indeed, New Balance has always sought to appeal to the regular person and not just the athletes. Its early adverts centered around old folks wearing New Balance sneakers to look hip and enjoy its unparalleled comfort. The brand also frowned against any major endorsements and sponsorship deals – even if that stance is somewhat more relaxed today – because it wanted people to wear its shoes for their belief in the product, not due to an unfounded hype.
Today, New Balance is arguably the biggest challenger to the world’s three biggest sportswear brands – Nike, Jordan, and Adidas. This is in no small part thanks to their consistent excellence and refusal to compromise quality for bigger profits.
Their long lasting desire to remain authentic and independent also continues to appeal to many outside of the sports industry. And if there’s anything of which we can be certain, it is that New Balance and all of its many past, present and future classics, will remain true to their principles of delivering only the very best.