Some light colours just beckon. New Balance knows it
The thing about colours for sneakers is that neither-vivid-nor-pristine tones don’t score massively among hypebeasts. It’s usually either all-white or all-black, or an amalgamation of staggering brights. With the release of New Balance’s newest collab in the form of the 993 silhouette, the chromatic story is a little different, and a little surprising, especially when we’re entering what is the fall season or, for many here, the ghoulish festival of black and orange—Halloween. NB has paired with the Chicago designer Joe Freshgoods and the result is rather pale. The two brands call the colors—a blue and a green (the pink will launch later)—“pastel”. We like and feature here the blue, which comes with the strangely soft “vintage rose”. Don’t get us wrong, this pair of Made in USA kicks is as handsome and virile as they come.
First released in 2008, the Boston brand’s 993 is a mashup of the 991 and 992 styles that arrived earlier. And it still looks like the runner of its time, even with the new colours, unlike the neo-vintagey XC-72—“the past could only imagine the future” as NB touts it. As hyperbolic as it sounds, the sum of the mesh and suede upper is described as “Performance Art”, and the characterisation even appears on the underside of the cover of the shoe box. Truth be told, we have not taken this 993 through the requisite paces, but we have no doubt it will perform, whether for running or for running errands. And it seems that the colours are aimed at those with a fashionable bent, not just street-style aficionados. Or, the more gender-neutral inclined. We keep thinking they would go with something from Fendi.
Joe “Freshgoods” Robinson (who also goes by the abbreviation JFG) draws from his home city to put out merchandise that has been said to reflect his home culture. Some call him “poet of merch, king of collab”. He describes himself on his webpage: “I’m crazy. I’m all over the place. I randomly collab with friends. I release clothes when I feel like it. I have no structure.” Might this also mean the “unmanageable” that another Black bro/designer described himself not too long ago? This is Mr Robinson’s fourth collaboration with NB. But his work isn’t restricted to footwear. Back in April, New Balance appointed him as the brand’s creative director for the ”Conversations Among Us” campaign.
Despite his alleged craziness and randomness, Mr Robinson did not go quite wild with his makeover of the 993. It is, to us, even subtler than Junya Watanabe’s pairing with NB through the 573 ‘legacy’. But there is something undeniably sweet about the colour choice. And in the still pro-bombastic sneaker world, something this understated, looking like a real athletic shoe, does stand out. New Balance, of course, isn’t averse to more eye-catching collabs. Just look at the 574 with Miu Miu or the latest just-as-torn-looking 2002R Protection Pack by the new creative director Teddy Santis. But a silhouette that looks trim and slowly moving out of the dad sphere may be what many of us need for our next rotation.
New Balance X Joe Freshgoods Made in USA 993, SGD329, Is available at DSMS from today, or at the New Balance web store. Photo: New Balance