New Balance 550
The New Balance 550 is an essential piece in many of our closets today, but it wasn't always that way. Listen, or rather read?
At the end of the '80s a new face arrived at New Balance. It was Steven Smith, fresh out of Massachusetts College of Art and Design. On his team, he met the legendary Kevin Brown and together they began working on the basketball branch of New Balance.
The first assignment is to work on the New Balance 740 for basketball star James Worthy. That is when Smith took the initiative to create a sneaker that worked with the basic premise of meeting the needs of high school and college basketball players. Thus the New Balance 650 and its smaller brother, the New Balance 550 Basketball Oxford, were born.
The competition, however, was huge. Converse, Nike and Reebok all had far greater financial capabilities than the Boston manufacturer, hence more signed athletes and far better technologies (Nike had the Nike Air, Reebok had the Pump System). And therefore, the New Balance 550 didn't stay in the spotlight for long. They got into a 30-year long hibernation.
Things started changing with the arrival of the new millennium. In 2014, the New Balance P740 OG returned to the market, but the brand was still missing a team. It wasn't until 2018 that improvements were made, with the signings of basketball superstar Kawhi Leonard and rookie Darius Bazley. However, the right time for the New Balance 550 is yet to come.
Teddy Santis. A name that every sneaker fan should be obliged to know at least in connection with Aimé Leon Dore. Teddy was the man behind the return of the New Balance 550. But how did that happen?
It all started quite innocently. He was flipping through an old Japanese catalogue when a pair caught his eye. It was one of the original New Balance 550 pairs from the '80s. The ALD founder fell in love with them and the journey to revive the silhouette began.
It's one thing to see a pair somewhere in a catalogue, it's another to make the shoe itself. Santis started searching social media and coincidentally found a collector from Japan who owned one of the original pairs. The design process began, and the new New Balance 550s looked just like the original. Even Steven Smith confirmed it! The hype began with the arrival of 2020, and on September 21, a collaboration with Aimé Leon Dore was unveiled as part of their International Friendship Through Basketball collection. The original white leather was replaced by yellow, the sole featured an "aged" undertone, colors like grey, green or black were added and the hype was on!
However, the manufacturer didn't stop with the colorways from the ALD collaboration. New Balance kept bringing new colorways to the market. To name a few, it was the New Balance 550 Green, New Balance 550 White or New Balance 550 Cream Black.
From outsider to superstar. That's how the story of the New Balance 550 can be summed up. This silhouette seems to keep growing and should definitely not be missing in any shoe closet.