New Balance 550 - A Must Have For Your Collection
New Balance 550 Is Back
You just can’t keep a good shoe down. The New Balance 550 hasn’t been seen since 1989. But it is back just as strong as ever. Wait until you see the new colorways.
The original New Balance 550 was released in 1989. The model was designed by legendary Steven Smith and was priced at $45. It comported with the NBA’s uniform regulations. The original 550 was disadvantaged by a lack of high-profile athlete sponsorships enjoyed by its competitors. Despite its design qualities and craftsmanship, the model lapsed into relative obscurity for decades.
In 2021 Teddy Smith, of his New York City-based Aime Leon Dore (ALD), became NB’s Creative Director. Shortly after his appointment he stumbled upon an image of the 550 and, being a fan of the 90s, was immediately enchanted.
But there was very little available information about the decades-old product so the new 550 had to be rebuilt from scratch with as many as ten design revisions. It was released in September 2020 with four new colorways. So in a sense, the rebirth of the 550 is a brand new baby inspired by its rich ancestry.
History of New Balance
New Balance has a long history of quality United States production. Founded in 1906 in Boston, where its headquarters remain today, it turned out high-quality arch supports for shoes cobbled at the time.
Because of the granddaddy Marathon, Boston was the citadel of the jogging fad. It was natural that in 1960 New Balance would move from arch supports to designing and manufacturing its “Trackster”, the world’s first running shoe with a ripple sole. MIT, Tufts, and Boston University adopted the Trackster for their cross-country teams. Many other colleges and universities followed.
While New Balance maintains its headquarters in Boston and manufacturing in Massachusetts and Maine, it has gone multinational with office and manufacturing facilities in the United Kingdom to serve its robust European market. This is contrasted with its competitors whose headquarters and manufacturing are all outside both the US and Europe.
Its product lines have expanded to include running shoes, basketball shoes, baseball shoes, skateboarding shoes, and everyday sneakers. They also produce apparel with an emphasis on running and casual athletic clothing. Its entire product line can be seen on New Balance’s website.
New Balance presently sponsors many sports teams, leagues, and individuals. They include the New York Road Runners which organizes the annual NYC Marathon, the National Basketball Association, New York Mets and Boston Red Sox, Ireland and Chile Olympic teams, several national and club football teams, and various US and European athletic teams.
The New 550
There are few comparably priced running shoes that can match the quality of materials and design of the New Balance 550.
The New Balance 550 is a performance basketball sneaker that returns from its 1989 debut after a 30-year hiatus. It was popular among pro players. Its mixed materials on the suede and mesh upper portray a simple look, featuring an N logo on the side wall and many bright colorways.
The 550 resurrects the late 80s basketball shoe built with a leather upper with perforations and mesh for breathability. All models have smooth leather or suede overlay on the forefoot. A rubber cup sole includes an EVA wedge for cushioning. A rubber outsole provides traction.
The NB 550 is available in men’s, woment’s, and children sizes. The 550 retails for around $120.to $140.
The resurrected 550 boasts several new colorways including but not limited to
• “Sea Salt Black” - White upper with black trim
• “White Grey” – White upper with grey trim.
• “Oreo” – White upper with black textile construction on padded collar and nylon tongue.
• “White Castlerock” – White upper with Castlerock (silver) trip.
• “Team Carolina Blue” – White upper with light blue trim.
• “White Mint Green” – White upper with mint green trim.
• “Summer Fog Dusk Blue” - White upper with powder blue inlays and dark blue trim.
• “White Pink” – White upper with pink suede forefront and heel and pink trim.
• “Au Lait” - White upper with a grey suede forefoot, café au lait inlays, and terracotta trim.
• “Silver Birch” - White upper with cream/silver trim
• “White Green” – White upper with dark green trim
• “Aime Leon Dore X” – White upper with cream sole and trim choice of brown, evergreen, silver, olive, navy, or purple.
• “Auralee X” ECRU – White upper with ecru (an elegant white/beige) inlay and trim and yellow/cream sole
• “Burgundy” – White upper with burgundy trim.
• “Shifted Sport Pack” – White upper with black forefoot and padding plus a choice of red or royal blue heel and trim.
Celebrities Wearing 550s
Upon their resurrection, especially because of the collaboration with Teddy Santis and ALD identity, the new NB 550s were an immediate hit. The new collegiate colorways made the 550s attractive to the new generation and celebrities alike.
Justin Bieber added the 550 to his extensive collection of elite trendy sneakers. He was recently photographed wearing a pair of Santis’ brand Aime Leon Dore NB 550s (white with green and yellow trim). Among other proud celebrity owners were Bella Hadid, Rihanna, Hailey Bieber, Emily Ratajkowski, Laura Harrier, and Kendall Jenner.
Other New Balance Models
The 550 is just one of many fine NB models. An explanation of NB’s numbering system is helpful for understanding some of the differences.
NB models are assigned numerical codes. The models are categorized by the last two digits in the model number.
Shoes that end with lower numbers (40, 50 & 60) provide the most stability. Is designed specially to deal with overpronation. A stability shoe supports the arch of the foot and greater support in the midsole and into the heel. They are usually more rigid than neutral running shoes.
Shoes with numbers in the middle range (70 & 80) are designed for light stability or neutral runners. Neutral shoes feature little or no support to offset pronation or control movement. Your feet are free to move naturally as you run.
Neutral running shoes are usually flexible and responsive and lightweight but very durable. They vary in terms of cushioning, material, and support, among other features.
Shoes with the highest numbers (90 & 00) are the lightest models designed for competition.
Some of the more prominent and newer NB models include the following.
• NB 574 is a classic sneaker first released in 1988. Designed as a running shoe it became popular as a casual shoe made of durable suede and mesh uppers. The 574 is in the same category and family as the 550 which was introduced about the same time.
• NB 991,992, and 993 Made in UK or Made in US are NB’s top-of-the-line models. These models are usually of better quality, perhaps competition grade, and priced higher accordingly. UK shoes are made with softer materials, while the US tends to use more heavyweight materials. They both feature superior construction and premium comfort.
The 990 series was released in 1982 with a directive to designers to produce the best running shoe on the market. It bore an unprecedented 3-figure price tag. For avid runners, it presented quality and taste not before seen. Those qualities have been sustained in subsequent models within the 990 series.
The newest 990v2 is no exception featuring a premium upper construction and ABZORB midsole cushioning. ABSORB is NB’s proprietary technology featuring a superior blend of foam cushioning and compression set.
It is a blend of Dupont Engage Isoprene rubber and proprietary foam cells or pellets installed in the midsoles in both the heel and forefoot.
Its function is to absorb shock and displace energy. It does so very well by the consistency of cell wall thickness and uniform cell size and shape. It is lightweight like standard EVA used for competitor shoes. But Abzorb foam is able to sustain its cushioning properties longer than EVA.
Available at Kanopy in Miami
The NB 550 is available at Kanopy in Miami. Kanopy is a boutique store founded in 2019 that sells designer streetwear. Its inventory features exclusive sneakers including New Balance 550 and other NB models.
The HB 550 story demonstrates that some styles abide when they are supported by excellence of design, materials, and marketing. New Balance released its first version of the 550 in 1989 when it wasn’t ready. Fortunately, NB breathed life into a solid concept with the genius of Teddy Santis.