Sunday, January 29, 2017

New Balance: the New Cool?

I had worn top of the line New Balance sneakers for years. I’m talking about the 990/991/993/994 line. Not sure how or when I discovered them. They might be heavier than most running shoes, but the support and comfort made them great to wear on long days on my feet. Steve Jobs wore them, which was kinda cool. Over the years I went through several pairs. The grey shoes were the most popular, but eventually I added a black and navy pair to my collection. Right now I probably have four pair in my closet, in addition to a pair of low-profile 310’s.  
As a middle-aged man living in the suburbs, on the weekends I’d see plenty of men like me out and about, unashamedly wearing clunky white leather New Balance sneakers. I prayed the day would never come that I’d be found in those shoes (sorry Don). Eventually I decided even my ultra-comfortable 990’s were too old-school to wear old in public. My black pair and navy pair were reminiscent of George Costanza’s Nike Cortez’s. Forrest Gump wore Cortez as well. Cool for kids maybe, but not my demographic. The 990’s are more college professor than relaxed business executive. Better to wear Roshes or Gazelles or “fashion sneakers.”
New Balance has been in the news lately. Demonstrators down in the Fifth District were burning the brand due to their alleged support of the new President. Made me want to dust mine off and wear them out downtown. And I did. (Clarification: while I may support some of the new President’s ideas and proposals, and as an American and Christian I consider it my duty to support and pray for our leaders in general, in no way do I label myself a Trump enthusiast, or "Christian for Trump").
In previous years Americans were in an uproar because the military was issuing foreign-made training sneakers. Last year the restriction was removed, paving the way for New Balance to outfit our troops.
I was interested to discover a generally favorable GQ article about New Balance covering these developments. Seems like every article I read these days, regardless of the topic, is written through a post Obama/new Trump World-colored glasses – though in this case presidential politics do come into play. In the article I was pleased to read “Aesthetically, these sneakers represent the fashion-dad vibe that's getting more popular by the day in sneakers and apparel.” Since I am usually oblivious to such trends, I’ll have to check out this “fashion-dad” thing. Another reason to dust off the old NB’s.
J Crew is jumping on the New Balance bandwagon. Though they’ve sold the trendy low-topped fashion sneakers for years, last night I noticed a pair of high tops on the back of a catalog that had arrived in the mail (below). Ok, but not the greatest. Simple high-tops have become more trendy lately (that’s what I’m reading anyway) and NB appears to have put out a style similar to a popular Vans release.

While researching this article I stumbled across a wide variety of New Balance releases that didn’t look too bad. Not that I was ever a heavy researcher.     
Speaking of shoes, I was probably wrong to sell off my pair of plain white leather Nikes. Though they may be fashionable, they make me look fatter. I still have my white low-cut white canvas Chuck Taylors to wear, though I haven’t pulled them on in years.  

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