Written by Pete Forester (@pete_forester)
It’s a sad reality that a huge swath of the sneaker community is only interested in basketball sneakers. Don’t get me wrong, if it weren’t for basketball sneakers there wouldn’t be much of a sneaker industry as it is. I’m not trying to complain about other people’s choices. But, New Balance has the infrastructure they need to support the return of the New Balance 590. They have impeccable quality standards, fantastic new technologies, and relationships with (forgive the word) influencers to give the shoe the return it, and we all, deserve.
The 590 could mean something huge for New Balance: a return to basketball. They have not seen much success in the basketball arena yet. Other than James Worthy and Matt Bonner, there just haven’t been that many NBA players willing to rock a pair of New Balances. And you know what? That’s insane. Bonner, before he was swiped up by adidas in January, only played in shoes he thought were comfortable. That was his only requirement, and if that’s what you’re looking for: New Balance is where you’re going to find it. Pair by pair, you will not find another brand that is as consistently comfortable as New Balance.
Looking like a cross between a Nike SB Dunk Hi and the classic New Balance 996, the 590 straddles almost every sneaker aesthetic.
There is one problem with the 590, and that’s the sole. The sole is totally lost in the '80s, and doesn’t offer the support and comfort that we’ve learned to expect from New Balance over the years. But this is where I think New Balance can seamlessly update themselves. Their Fresh Foam program has been getting rave reviews: light, bouncy, with crazy cushioning. If they could just use Fresh Foam to rebuild the sole of the 590, they would have an unstoppable and comfortable shoe of the highest quality. It would give a totally different experience from Nike’s Air technology.
Fresh Foam is built to avoid muscle fatigue by lowering impact stress, which is what is needed when running long distance. It’s also what’s needed on the court when playing at a high level. The foam is sculptable, and there’s no reason they can’t sculpt it to be a perfect copy of the original 590 sole.When it comes to quality, no one is as consistent or meticulous as New Balance. New Balance general releases have always been made out of real leather and real suede, and that has not changed. As other brands have weaseled their way into figuring out cheaper ways to make and sell shoes, New Balance has spent their time and money focusing on keeping American jobs to continue to make a heritage product. How often do we see side by side comparisons of retros where the new retro’s nubuck is actually synthetic. If you buy a pair of 996s today, they’re made out of suede that is just as soft as when they were first made 25 years ago.
Finally, New Balance is the only sneaker company still making shoes in the US. Imagine an NBA player taking the court in perfectly crafted beautiful retro sneakers made by hand right here in New England. He would be literally the only player in the whole league doing that. There's so much talk about creating sustainable American jobs in this economy. That move would be a huge bolster to American industrial confidence.
Still not convinced based just on the merits of New Balance's technology? That's okay, because the shoe is as sick as they come. Looking like a cross between a Nike SB Dunk Hi and the classic New Balance 996, the 590 straddles almost every sneaker aesthetic. And think about the collaborations! New Balance isn't shy about using their archive to make incredible shoes, and they work with a huge array of designers and color blockers. From the 574, to the 420 the OG runners have gotten some truly inspired treatment. 1300, 1500, 999, and 998 have all played canvas to some of the most beautiful sneakers every made. Imagine what could happen on the 590.
Every New Balance has its classic grey iteration. Riffing off the NB996, this is what the 590 could be:
Even though Matt Bonner has moved on, it would be appropriate for New Balance to take the opportunity of their new basketball program to pay homage to the last NBA player who wore them. So, the following colorway is based off of Bonner's favorite, and horrible, 8026. It also pays homage to one of the most recognizable colorways of James Worthy's tenure with the sneaker:
New Balance has had some amazing GR colorways in the last few years and it wouldn't kill them to take cues from their own successes. One of my favorite pairs was the 998GNR. Here's what the colorway might look like on the 590:
When it comes to collaborations, it's impossible to know where outside designers would find their inspiration. But maybe birds, like cardinals:
Or from a favorite childhood show, like Peanuts (my family called me Linus because of the blanket I carried around as a kid):
And there will always be those designers who aren't designers at all, but copy colorways. That, let's be honest, we all want to see anyway: