The History of New Balance Shoes

The History Of New Balance

Once known as the quintessential “dad shoe” brand, New Balance shoes have grown in popularity over the years and are the epitome of a shoe that works for everyone. Here’s a brief look at the history of New Balance sneakers and how they became a household name.

The Origins of New Balance

The New Balance brand dates back to 1906, when Irish immigrant William J. Riley started the New Balance Arch Support Company. He wanted to offer people better balance (hence the name) through arch support.

Interestingly, the idea came from watching his chickens. Riley observed how they walked with perfect balance on their three-toed feet, and that inspired the three support points in his arch support products.

For the first few decades, the company only created arch supports, primarily for workers who spent hours on their feet. But factory workers weren’t the only people in need of arch support.

New Balance in Sports

Athletes were also drawn to the arch supports, which significantly boosted the brand’s popularity. Many athletes even asked about sneaker options, which prompted the creation of the first New Balance shoe in 1961 — called the Trackster. It had an innovative ripple sole for traction, which helped establish New Balance as a sneaker manufacturer — not just an arch support provider.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t until 1972 that the company really became a top contender in the sneaker world. Jim Davis purchased the still-small company and made New Balance a top running shoe brand within just a few years.

In 1976, New Balance created its first shoe with the now-iconic “N” logo on the side (the 320), and Runner’s World magazine declared it the top running shoe.

Over the years, the company has continually improved its sportswear design, offering lightweight materials and superior support. And since the late 1970s, New Balance has held its place in the sportswear industry with dozens of athletic partnerships.

New Balance in Fashion

New Balance shoes started to become fashionable beyond sports in 1982 with the release of the New Balance 990, the most expensive running shoe available at the time. Having a pair of NB 990s became a status symbol in D.C. street culture, and the brand rose in popularity throughout the ’90s and 2000s.

However, it was more of a subtle popularity. New Balance wasn’t as big as sneaker brands like adidas and Nike, but the brand still had a significant presence in rap and hip-hop culture. At the same time, the shoe became associated with tech mogul Steve Jobs, which just goes to show New Balance’s unique pull to people of all backgrounds.

New Balance has continued to hold a prominent place in the fashion world, with collaborations with big-name brands like J.CrewJaden Smith, and Ronnie Fieg (whose most recent 2023 collab sold out in mere days).

Celebrities, designers, and influencers have also helped solidify New Balance sneakers in fashion. Icons like Hailey Beiber, Timothee Chalamet, Kanye West, Rihanna, and Emily Ratajkowski have all proudly worn NB kicks and continue to promote the brand.

Here are just a few of the top-trending New Balance shoes.

New Balance 574

Originally released in 1988, the new Balance 574 combines two previous shoes. This mashup took the best features from both and created a fan favorite that people still love.

The New Balance 574 looks and feels like a classic, with suede material and subdued earth-tone colorways. You can find a pair in maroon with navy accentsmustard yellow, or a light creme.

New Balance 990

The New Balance 990 shoe has undergone several iterations over the years. You can find a pair in the traditional gray tones, or you can choose something more eye-catching, like the red and silver Lunar New Year shoe.

New Balance 327

New Balance collaborated with the French-Moroccan brand Casablanca to produce the New Balance 327 sneaker in 2020. This modern casual shoe pays homage to retro style with its ’70s-inspired silhouette. It has a clunky sole, suede accents, and an oversized “N” on the side.

New Balance Grey Day

New Balance has accepted the color grey as their signature shade. As a part of its long history and success with an often overlooked color, grey, New Balance now celebrates “Grey Day“. The brand uses the unofficial holiday as an ode to their heritage, and a chance to feature their new and old styles alike in a color they’re known best for.

Find Equilibrium With a Pair of New Balance

Even after more than 100 years, New Balance shoes align with William J. Riley’s original vision: to offer maximum support and comfort. And that’s what makes them popular with everyone from dads to athletes and influencers.

So why not find your balance with a pair of New Balance shoes? Check out the top trending New Balance sneakers at JD Sports and walk in style (and comfort).



JD Official l Editor

On x Zendaya: Sneakers Next Big Partnership

JD Official l Editor

The History of Hoka

JD Official l Editor

Copa America 2024: What You Need to Know