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A Guide to the 10 Best New Balance Retro Sneakers
Founded all the way back in 1906, is one of the world’s oldest athletic footwear manufacturers. Known mostly for their high quality and high-performance running shoes, the brand has maintained a loyal following of wearers for decades. However, only in the last few years has New Balance really become popular in the sneaker-collecting world.
New Balance’s line of retro classics—many of which are still made in the USA at the Boston factory, or at the brand’s UK factory in Flimby—have become some of the most respected and sought-after releases in the sneaker collecting world. Once thought of as only shoes for your grandpa by most sneakerheads, in recent times New Balance’s classic models have received new life with collaborative editions designed by some of the most highly regarded boutiques in the sneaker community like Concepts in Boston and Kith in New York City. Models like the “C-Note” 998 by Concepts and the “Daytona” 1600 by Kith owner Ronnie Fieg have helped propel the name New Balance to the same level as other major sneaker brands like Nike, Adidas, and ASICS in the hyped-up sneaker conversation.
One thing you’ve probably noticed about New Balance is the way the name their shoes: each with only a number. Experienced New Balance aficionados may have this series of model numbers down pat, but for those just getting acquainted with the brand’s sneakers, the jumble of numbers can get a bit confusing—especially when most of these older models from the 1980’s have a somewhat similar look. This guide will break down the numbers on the ten most popular sneakers of New Balance’s back catalog. Study up!
The simple and affordable 574 serves as the entry point to the world of New Balance retro models. Most versions of the 574 are made in Asia, but higher quality (and better shaped) USA and UK manufactured pairs are also produced from time to time, including the USA-made customizable versions that can be ordered on New Balance’s website.
Very similar to the 574, the 576 features a more appealing shape and higher quality, as it is almost exclusively produced at the US and UK factories. One of the most notable releases of the 576 recently is the series of colorways done as a collaboration with Nordstrom, including the bright red version you see here.
The 577 also has a similar look to other models in the 570 range but features a sleeker look with a more forward-leaning design. Manufactured almost exclusively in the Flimby factory, you can expect a high-quality construction with every UK-made pair.
One of the cleanest designs of all New Balance retro models, the 996 features a sleek and fast-looking build in high-quality suede and mesh, usually with reflective “N” logos. Made exclusively at the Boston factory, you can always expect high quality and plenty of comfort from a pair of 996’s.
A newer reintroduction to the New Balance retro scene, the 997 is also being manufactured exclusively in the USA and features one of the freshest retro runner designs out there. The look is similar to the 996 but features an even more stable midsole and plastic support reinforcement up top.
One of the most popular New Balance retro models, the 998 is characterized by smaller “N” logos, high-quality suede and mesh, and a thick and supportive ABZORB cushioned midsole. The 998 gained more popularity than ever in 2013 with the “C-Note” colorway by Concepts, inspired by the redesigned 0 bill.
The 999 is another chunky-soled design with all kinds of style. With almost all pairs of the 999 made in Asia, the price is usually a little more affordable than the similar USA-made 998.
The 1300 is another Made in USA model with a look quite similar to the 996, but on the same chunkier sole as the 577. One of the shoe’s best colorways ever was the “Salmon Sole” version designed by Ronnie Fieg of Kith.
A lot of the most popular New Balance retro models are made exclusively in Boston, but the 1500 hails only from the UK factory. Although the “N” logos are small, the shoe’s quality and comfort is large.
The highest numbered model making this guide is the 1600, sporting a similar, but more streamlined look than the 1500.
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