How far does the seemingly boundless cultural influence of Taylor Swift reach? Does her sway over Swifties know any limit? Would a one-time public co-sign by Swift—through something as innocuous as her wearing a sneaker—spark new interest in an item among her acolytes?
It did for the New Balance 550, which Swift wore to a Kansas City Chiefs home game on Sept. 24. The singer was spotted wearing the shoes in a viral clip that showed her exiting Arrowhead Stadium alongside Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who she’s rumored to be dating. Her New Balances (style code BB550SE1) came in a colorway of white, red, and black, a close match to the palette worn by Kelce’s team.
After Swift wore the shoes, New Balance saw an increase in sales and traffic around the 550 model. According to data from an internal presentation at New Balance that was viewed by Complex, revenue for the 550 on newbalance.com was up 25 percent in the week after Swift wore the shoe; units sold were up 22 percent. Site traffic to the New Balance 550 increased by 30 percent in the week after Swift wore it, and internal searches for the 550 went up by 73 percent. The figures were presented at New Balance under the header “Taylor Swift Impact on 550.”
A New Balance spokesperson declined to comment on Swift’s appearance in the sneakers and the impact on their sales.
Swift did not alone popularize the New Balance 550. The model, which debuted in 1989, was immediately successful upon its first retro release in October 2020, when New York City streetwear brand Aimé Leon Dore helped bring it back to market in limited numbers. New Balance scaled up from that first group of limited-edition releases in the following years, turning the 550 into a volume shoe and staple of its lifestyle business.
The first retros of the New Balance 550, made in collaboration with Aimé Leon Dore, are coveted on the secondary market. Those shoes sold for a retail price of $130; at their peak, they fetched resale prices in the $600 range.
The style Swift wore at the Chiefs game is not a limited New Balance 550, and is unlikely to see a meaningful price increase on the secondary market. But resale platforms did react to her in the shoes. Stadium Goods, a consignment shop based in New York City, put up a banner on its homepage with an image of the Chiefs-esque colorway worn by Swift, advising shoppers to “act swiftly” to participate in the “Sneaker Love Story.”
Resale platform StockX saw an immediate impact on the volume of sales for the New Balance 550 colorway that Swift wore, according to Drew Haines, StockX’s merchandising director for sneakers and collectibles. In August 2023, the average number of daily trades for the shoes on StockX was 18; the day after Swift wore them, more than 100 pairs were traded. In the week following Swift wearing the New Balance 550, resale prices of the Chiefs-esque colorway on StockX were up 8 percent, and trade volume was up 347 percent.
How long can Swift sustain her role as a sneaker influencer? The answer lies in the trajectory of an egret white New Balance 1906R made in collaboration with Ganni, which she wore in the sunny New York City afternoon on Tuesday. In the event that prices on Ganni’s New Balances shoot up, we just might be looking at a fresh wave of New Balance hype (Taylor’s version).