Finally, someone has taken the time to sit down and explain why New Balance don't name their sneaker silhouettes, instead choosing to number them—the most confusing system ever, unless you know your New Balance. The guardian sneaker-angels, who have heroically come to our rescue are Size?, who have written a blog post explaining the New Balance numbering system for all us simpletons.
The typical model produced by New Balance is branded with a 6-7 digit code, M1500BWG for example, and each letter or number signifies something about the sneaker. If we divide the code into three sections, the first section is the letters that precede the numbers. In this case, the M signifies that this shoe is a mens sneaker. It could be w for womens, or U for unisex. If there is an additional letter, it will refer to the category of sneaker; MR would signify a mens running shoe. There are also cases of collaborations and custom made sneakers, which are marked with either CW or CM.
Next up is the numbers. Effectively, the way this works is that the numbers are a ranking system, in terms of performance, so a 1500 has superior technology and performance—and probably a higher price tag—and was originally designed to meet the demands of athletes. The final letters correspond with the colouring of the sneaker, so BWG indicates a black/white/green colourway.
To read a more detailed explanation of the New Balance numbering system, head over to the Size? blog now.