Why Your Dad’s Favorite Sneakers Are the Hottest Shoes on the Market

New Balance has gone through a renaissance quickly becoming one of the most hyped shoe companies in the world


Will Beltramini, Staff Writer

In 2020, New Balance erupted into popularity, frontrunning a new wave of alternative sneakers. The shoe’s resurgence challenges the monopoly that Nike and Adidas once held over the industry. Since then they have continued their meteoric rise to fame. Collaborations with New York fashion brand Aime Leon Dore and JJJJound have elevated New Balance into higher fashion circles. Now everyone from your grandpa to off-duty models wants a pair of New Balances. This begs the question, how did New Balance get to this point? And, is it here to stay?

New Balance was originally founded in 1906 as an arch support and orthopedic footwear company. As the company grew it expanded into making running shoes which became the trademark of the brand. Models such as the 320 and 620 which featured the iconic “N” logo were among the most advanced running shoes of the time. 

By the turn of the century New Balance was one of the most recognizable shoe brands in the world, popular amongst runners, businessmen and dads alike. Its comfort and practicality  naturally attracted older demographics. The one demographic New Balance could not break into is that of highly coveted  fashion circles. Yet, over the past couple of years this has completely changed for the brand. 

The emergence of New Balance in the fashion industry started with its Aime Leon Dore collaboration. Amix of streetwear and classier looks made the clothing company a perfect fit for collaboration with New Balance. The two brands cooperated to make a variety of models from 2019 to 2020, building hype for both brands. 

This created the perfect storm when the two companies renewed an old New Balance model, forgotten by the public. The New Balance 550 appealed to vintage collectors because of its 80’s aesthetic, its basketball heritage attracted sports fans and it remained as comfy as any other New Balance model. The revival of the New Balance 550 became a turning point for New Balance. For the first time people started lining up for their shoe releases, and the hype is justified as the 550 is one of the most unique shoes on the market. 

The next style that cemented New Balance as the trendiest shoe company was the rise of Gorpcore. Gorpcore, a trend that includes wearing shell jackets and hiking pants, became one of the biggest styles of 2021, made famous by TikTok. The use of outdoorsy brands and functional clothing in this style made New Balance an obvious choice for complementing footwear. Models such as 1990v3 and 1992 became popular from Gorpcore and the collaborations that resulted from it. 

With New Balance’s rapid rise to footwear domination out of seemingly nowhere, some are anxious that because of this, the shoes will fall out of relevancy when the next batch of trend cycles come along. This fear has grown with other footwear brands such as ASICS becoming popular amongst the same New Balance crowd. Even with these worries, many people believe New Balance is here to stay. 

“I think New Balances used to be seen as a dead dad shoe that never interested a younger audience because of comfortability and ‘style,’” said Summit junior Hayden Brinker. “But with the new 550s and skate shoes that New Balance is trying to put out, it’s drastically increasing younger generations’ interest in them which honestly seems to be an anomaly.” 

This, along with New Balance’s dedication to other shoe markets, sets New Balance apart from its competitors. Also with the growing need for more affordable, high-quality clothing, New Balance fits perfectly into this demand. Its blend of function, comfort and uniqueness means that New Balance shoes have the potential to become timeless. Even if they fall victim to the endless cycle of fashion trends, its base in demographics not directly involved in fashion will make New Balance shoes classics.