New Balance is a shoe manufacturing company founded in Boston in 1906. It started as a company that sold accessories that made shoes more comfortable. To date, it's one of the most loved and trusted footwear brands by athletes all over the world. Through the years, the company has managed to stay ahead of the competition by changing trends and technologies to improve its brands and stay in line with the modern age. If you love the New Balance shoe brand, here are six curiosities you should know about the shoes.
- Shoes with Technical Features
- Founded in Boston
- Prides Itself in Top Quality Products
- First Products Were Sold by a Salesman
- Made the First Sneakers in 1938
- Has a Skateboarding Shoe Called the New Balance Numeric
As mentioned earlier, New Balance didn’t start out by making its own shoes. Rather, it manufactured arch supports. The supporting arch design was invented based on how chicken legs stood on three points. The owner hoped this new technology would help alleviate the pain that most workers endured due to long hours on their feet.
New Balance founder, William J. Riley, established the company in Boston, although he originally came from England. He immigrated to America in 1906, where he established the company. It was not until his death that the company expanded to England. Its main hub is in Maine, with the headquarters still located in the city’s neighborhood of Brighton. Currently, New Balance operates two factories in Maine, located in the Northeast-most state in the Union.
The label “New Balance” actually comes from the concept of chickens supporting their bodies on a three-toed foot. The founder, William Riley, observed how the chickens did it and created arch supports with three prongs. The brand's business strategy was to manufacture products of the highest quality to provide customers with the best support for their feet. In 1927, arch supports went for $5, which was the price for a new pair of shoes.
Advertising has always been a top strategy to sensitive customers about new products. New Balance products were well advertised, with Arthur Hall, a traveling salesman visiting customers and selling them the products first-hand. He identified customer problems – hurting feet – and then provided a solution – New Balance Arch corrects foot troubles and gives quick comfort. The Massachusetts and Rhode Island police and firefighters were among the earliest customers of New Balance.
It wasn’t until 1938 that Riley started the production of sneakers. The sneakers were specifically made for runners from a black kangaroo leather upper and a crepe sole. Riley didn’t just want to make sports shoes like any other brand. He intended to design a pair of sneakers that not only maintained New Balance’s top of the range quality but also shoes that were more comfortable and serviceable than other brands. By 1941, the company had expanded to making sneakers for boxing, tennis, and baseball. Back then, the company didn’t believe in advertising its products through celebrities. They wanted their clients to use New Balance shoes for their quality and comfort. That’s why they were not into sponsoring any teams or events. In fact, New Balance’s flagship sneakers, 320, were advertised by old folks dressed in every-day older folks' clothes. This decision was to target everyone, regardless of their gender or race. It wasn’t until 2009 that the company executives finally allowed celebrities and athletes to wear their sneakers for publicity.
The New Balance Numeric is one of the most popular shoes of the New Balance brands. Marketed as a skateboarding shoe, the New Balance Numeric was created in partnership with Jamie Thomas, a professional skateboarder, and owner of Black Box distribution. This is not the first time New Balance is trying to venture into different fields. They also produce athletic clothing and accessories for several sports, including hiking, running, football, and tennis. The New Balance company has come a long way and is involved in many activities and events. Here's just a sneak peek:
- They have a partnership with Westin Hotels
- They sponsor a bike share system in Boston
- They made shoes for the Israeli army
- They have a contract with the US Defense Logistics Agency The company also allows its customers to design their own customized shoes, with former US president Barack Obama owning a custom-made 990. One last thing. New Balance uses numbers instead of names to label their shoe brands. This idea was used by Arthur Hall, who numbered the shoes to focus on the brand and not any particular model. The philosophy is still practiced to date.
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