When I first saw people wearing the New Balance 990v3 in Washington, DC, I didn’t get it. At the time, around 2012, I was more focused on Air Jordans and Foamposites (another DC favorite—more on those soon) and my taste in New Balances veered more toward the collab-heavy models. The ubiquitous grey 990v3 reminded me too much of the model you’d see sitting at Dick’s Sporting Goods; a dad shoe years before the term was popularized. 

But the way I saw it worn during those trips to the District gave me a whole new vision of the shoe. It wasn’t worn with broken-in khakis and polos, it was worn with all-black outfits and North Face and Helly Hansen jackets. And the shoes’ laces weren’t tight enough to cut off circulation, they were often left loosely unlaced near the uppermost eyelet. I started seeing the 990v3 in a different way, and it wasn’t long before that influence led me to trying out a few pairs. Today the 990v3 is one of my favorite sneakers, and I don’t have any qualms admitting it took me a while to fully appreciate it.