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new-balance-timeline

The History & Evolution of New Balance (1906 - 2018)

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1906

In Boston, Massachusetts, an English immigrant named William J. Riley founds the New Balance Arch Support Company. The company focuses on producing specialist arch supports and orthopaedic footwear to give customers greater comfort and ‘new balance’.

1927

Riley hires a man named Arthur Hall to be a salesman for the New Balance Arch Support Company. As New Balance products are not yet sold in retail stores, Hall becomes a travelling salesman; this personalised approach helps the brand stand out over competitors.

1936

Hall becomes a partner in the company and focuses selling arch support products to people who spend a lot of the day standing up such as retail workers, firefighters and police officers.

1938

New Balance create their first ever running shoe for a local running club known as the Boston Brown Bag Harriers. Designed by Riley, these specialist running shoes feature a crepe sole and are made from kangaroo leather.

1941

The company expands its product range with specialist footwear designed for sports such as tennis, boxing and baseball. As a low-volume producer, all products are made in house by a small team.

1956

Arthur Hall’s daughter Eleanor and her husband Paul Kidd buy the company. At first the Kidds keep the main focus of the company on selling orthopedic footwear products, but soon gain an interest in developing sports footwear to meet the specific requirements of athletes.

1960

New Balance launch the Trackster. Initially made at home by the Kidds, the Trackster is the first running shoe available in different width fittings, and quickly gains positive attention with the wider running community.

1972

On the day of the 1972 Boston Marathon, the company is purchased by Jim Davis. At this point in time, the New Balance company only has six full-time workers making 20-30 pairs of shoes per day. As the company continues to grow, Davis retains the focus on the original idea of providing great quality products, excellent customer service, and being committed to unique customer shoe preferences.

1976

The 320 launches and is the first shoe to feature the now famous 'N' logo. New Balance shoes start to use unique model numbers rather than names for their products so that customers see each model as being equal, but designed for different purposes. The number defines the type of shoe, the activity it was designed for and whether the shoe was built for stability, speed and so on. Sales of the New Balance 320 skyrocket as the shoe is voted as the number one running shoe on the market by Runner's World magazine.

1978

New Balance release their first ever clothing products. They introduce nylon and mesh tops and shorts, and also feature innovative Gore-Tex running suits.

1980

The 620 launches and at the time is the lightest and most advanced running shoe on the market. It’s also the first sneaker to break the $50 retail price barrier.

1982

The iconic New Balance 420 is launched. With its combination suede and nylon upper and foam midsole, the 420 has been released in a huge number of colourways over the years and remains a favourite to this day. The same year, New Balance opens its first UK factory and also releases the hi-tech 990, pushing the sneaker price barrier to $100 for the first time.

1984

The 670 model is first released. The shoe has proven hugely popular over the years and has been the focus of a number of collabs, including the New Balance X Norse Projects edition released in 2009.

1985

New Balance introduces the 1300. The model is designed for advanced stability and constructed with high-quality comfort technologies. At $130, it’s the most expensive running shoe ever released and New Balance claim the best running shoe ever made.

1988

New Balance release their famous 574 model. Initially designed as a technical running shoe to offer improved comfort, the 574 has since remained popular, being re-released a number of times and transitioning into an iconic casual design. In 2017 New Balance released a reworked version, the 574S.

1993

The company releases their 1500 model which goes on to see high sales due to U.S President Bill Clinton, who regularly wears a pair of 1500 shoes on his runs. All 1500s are currently made in England at New Balance’s factory in Flimby.

1994

New Balance release their delayed M1400 shoes, which was originally designed to be released straight after the M1300 in 1985. Despite the delay, the M1400 is a hit and continues to be one of the longest-selling New Balance model ranges.

1998

Having not been as popular as expected at its original launch in 1988, New Balance reissue the 576 and the model is featured on the cover of Elle Magazine, helping the 576 to gain popularity in the fashion world.

2001

The 991 drops and is the latest model in the legendary 99x series that first launched in 1982. The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously wore grey suede New Balance 991s for a number of years. This is also the same year that New Balance acquires the famous trainer brand P.F. Flyers.

2006

New Balance collaborate with Offspring to release the NB X Offspring range, which is the first collaboration for New Balance. Featuring autumnal colours, these shoes represent each of Offspring's London stores with individual store numbers stitched into the shoe heels.

2009

Despite a philosophy that they would be “Endorsed By No One”, New Balance decides to break with tradition and start allowing professional athletes to endorse the brand, including baseball players Miguel Cabrera and Curtis Granderson, and NBA star Matt Bonner.

2012

Ahead of the US Presidential Election, New Balance creates a unique shoe for President Barack Obama. The 990 'Made In USA' shoes are specially made before his 2012 re-election campaign to demonstrate the importance of local industries in America.

2013

New Balance Numeric is launched as the brand’s entry into the popular skate shoe market. The products combine skate and street influences with New Balance’s famous attention to detail, quality and fit.

2014

Fresh Foam technology launches as a newly generated shock-absorption system that provides wearers with a stable and high-performance shoe. The same year, New Balance reveal Canadian tennis player Milos Raonic as their first ever ambassador and release a sportswear line in collaboration with supermodel Heidi Klum.

2015

After signing Milos Raonic as their first ambassador, New Balance decide to work more closely with the tennis industry and bring British tennis player Heather Watson on-board as another brand ambassador.

2016

New Balance launches the 247, a model that combines contemporary and classic influences and is designed for a 24/7 lifestyle. The range debuts with the limited ‘Friends & Family’ edition, of which all 247 pairs are given to influencers in the sneaker and fashion communities. The UK’s first flagship New Balance store also opens on London’s Oxford Street.

2017

The 365 model line is launched on New Balance’s new ‘NB Exclusives’ platform, which offers products exclusively for one week. The Fuelcore Sonic also launches, using an innovative BOA lacing system where the shoe is tightened or loosened by turning a dial.

2018

New Balance teams up with Marvel to release two models in honour of the movie Black Panther; the Marvel X New Balance 574 Sport and the Marvel X New Balance 990v4. New Balance also reissues the US made 990 in its original grey colourway, priced at $100 (the same as it sold for when first released in 1982) and launches the X90, a modern sneaker inspired by heritage models.

 
 
 
 

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