Monday, October 27, 2008



“Building Global Brands That Athletes Are Proud To Wear…”

Gary’s Loft, Garment Center NYC - October 2008
Words, Images by Judith Ecochard

At the Outdoor Retail Tradeshow (August ’08)…we never saw the New Balance huge exhibition space without a swarm of noshing humans.

As buyers and exhibitors trickled in…the hungry growl inducing aroma of waffles filled the Salt Palace Convention Center aisles, beckoning the hungry and hung-over alike.

New Balancers fed the masses while the performance footwear on display clearly targeted calorie burning endeavors.

Fortunately, the spacious midtown space Gary’s Loft gave us the opportunity to preview the enormous Spring ’09 footwear offerings (calorie free) under the New Balance moniker-that should make die hard athletes and sneaker fanatics very happy.


The LIFESTYLE COLLECTION for Spring ’09 takes off from the hip Holiday line-up (now in high-end boutiques like Barney’s)…with new colors and unique, innovative materials.

Our top picks that garnered a small crowd when we were there…are the Japanese Import peds the 580s in neon lime, aqua, and dahlia purple ($120).

The Pantone 996 boasts rainbow worthy patent, suede, and leather…and has eye-catching color swatches on the heels. ($110).

Other winners---the vintage running selections re-launched as edgy footwear- in metal infused nylon, suede, patent leather and mesh accents (420s, 410s)- and a European bunch that includes the iconic 990s performance series-in trendy white or black leather- with metallic silver pops ($180).

ATHLETIC FOOTWEAR by New Balance, based in Boston-is the company’s original raison d’etre.

For runners, hikers and tri-athletes- three multi-sport options (875s, 812s, 1520s) various attributes depending…like sturdy Vibram® soles, multi-directional traction, Gore-Tex™XCR (breathable waterproof protection), Rock Stop® plates for stability, 3M Re- flectivity, and Abzorb® cushioning ensure miles of fun.

Runners on race day have light-weight options loaded up with features targeting their particular foot stride (769s, 904s, 769s ($100-$125) - punched up with cool styling. What we really like is the Sure Lace™ system that keeps shoe tied. We can’t wait to demo a pair.

Fitness trainers that take us “from the gym to a 5k run” incorporate supportive cushioning via Abzorb@SBS with Abzorb®, and Nlock@ intergrated lacing systems for a perfect fit. ($90-$110)

Tennis, walking (urban, country) water performance and kids footwear are also up for Spring ’09 ($80-$120).

Though the Lifestyle Collection garnered the most interest from Press attendees from the fashion side of things…as runners we were curious to see the performance attire. We have a list of complaints about some of the pricey gear on the market…but it seems to us New Balance nailed it in terms of what physical types need.

Running skorts and a neat dress (Bonita Run Dress $55)) are catching on for women- as are relaxed performance/lifestyle wear that can work double-duty at the gym as well as everyday casual strolls. (Pose tanks, hoodies, pants and capris).

There are several high impact bras and sporty tanks with interior shelf bras, made of moisture wicking materials…including the eco cool COCONA™ fabric that provides superior odor control and moisture wicking properties.

For guys, the difference is in the details. As with the ladies NBx-Treme crop---We LOVED the eco bent of the NB X Cocona™ polyester Split, half zip, burnout tees and singlet, knit hybrid jacket shell (water, wind resistant) and seamless tee--- as the textile is made from coconuts (!) that made the fabric a natural for sports.

The NBX lightweight shell even has thumb-halls and is music friendly with an external pocket and holes for earphones.

And the men's Go 2 running tights are cleverly seamed to support muscles… and even have mesh, back of knee panels to whisk away sweat.

There’s also a relaxed fit Warmup Series (pants and jacket) that has moisture wicking properties in white/black or nautical/blue color combos.

And there’s plenty of sleeveless and short sleeve seamless tees that are as soft as cotton, boast moisture wicking properties, and guarantee no chafing for a comfortable workout, sweat-wise.

We didn’t see the new performance socks with Lightening Dry technology- but are curious about the Scrambler Tab technical running sock ($12) that’s supposed to provide stability, cushioning for key strike zones, vented mesh panels, and a NBx Scrambler Tab (at the heel), and with a hand sewn toe to prevent chafing.



"Reclassification of The Sneaker"

A blast from our past rockets forward with footwear pumped up with refreshed color combos and materials.

Retro-classics shine through in transparent sheer nylon, oiled texture rich Italian canvas, metal woven mesh and/ or fine Italian full grain gloss leathers.

Our top pick are the Bob Cousy All-American the rare basketball low top crafted for the superstar. With a one-of-a-kind Gullwing Closure™, trendy logo markings and a PF insole, we can see this sneaker replacing everyday ped coverings. Look for the “it” color of dark purple Bob Cousy- in Italian bead-embossed leather/burgundy canvas/reverse pigskin heel one- to be a hit. ($70-$110)

Other archival reissues include the Windjammer series (circa 1968)-the canvas deck boat shoe ($70)…and the Glide series ($90)-a 70’s era high top basketball sneaker with so old it’s new logos, tread details and terry lining. A modern Glide, retailing for $180- comes in sure to be noticed- Italian Patent Leather in brown.



A collection of comfortable, up-market shoes based on New Balance’s technological know how- is ramped up for Spring ’09.

Coined Aravon, the “more is more” footwear for women hits its stride (with a Stridarc™ sole for “rock steady” gait cycle movements) - in the Piper, an urban friendly, super supportive thong in trendy coral, black, or green patent leather…or metallic bronze leather uppers- atop a durable polyurethane outsole. ($145)

These are the kind of easy on- easy peds we live in.

A closed shoe option we think is rather chic is the Mary-Jane style, thin strapped Mia in tan, navy or black leather ($150).

The new Paola cross strap slide $145- (in red magic, brown magic, black croc, cream patent leathers and black leather) and Mara closed clog (burgundy, black patent leathers $155) are also modern slip-ons with the Stridarc™ soles and full-length Absorb® cushioning.

Chances are the Aravon Collection will be a fashinable hit at the January Outdoor Retail Show and in retail stores too!