New Balance 577RRK + 577OOK

The New Balance 577 is a classic archive running shoe from the 80’s, and a must have in any collection, so the fact that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the model, it’s only right that we see some stunning colourways, and some other special releases.

We’ve been screaming out for some 577 goodness, especially because we’ve seen so many stunning pairs release in years gone by. However, in recent times, this model, much like most of the Flimby made product, has been let down by the shape. This seems to be an on-going issue but it looks like we are finally seeing some improvements, which is a massive plus for us!

The first two colourways of the 577 to drop this year were the 577RRK and the 577OOK, and we will take a closer look at both of them here. First off, both are Made in England at the famous Flimby factory and they both share extremely similar colourways. The 577OOK is decked out in an orange and black upper, and the 577RRK in a red and black upper, with both pairs using a combination of a premium suede upper and mesh underlays. We see an unusual style of colour blocking on these pairs, almost a tale of two halves if you must, with the front and middle portion of the shoes wielding either the red or orange, and the rear of the shoe has been blacked out except for the heel tab. Both pairs feature a two-piece N with black backer, traditional heel counter and the shoes are sat on the iconic 577 ENCAP sole unit.

As mentioned previously, one of the first things we look for is shape, and the improvements are very noticeable. We’ve seen a toe puff creep into all UK models in the past couple of years, and it creates structure and support, but it is a little too defined and leaves the toe box looking excessively bulky. However, in these two pairs, we don’t have a toe puff, merely just the upper material, but through the use of what looks and feels like a side shaper, this keeps the toe box stretched and therefore we have a much sharper shape.

These two New Balance 577’s are a great start to this iconic models anniversary year, and we are eagerly waiting to see what else New Balance release.

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New Balance 577AS – Audrey Stewart – Centenary Edition

In this day and age, it’s rare to get a pair of trainers from this Flimby era that are still in this condition – (Deadstock, that is) – but when you do, there’s always some enjoyment in lacing them up for the first time.

The pair featured here is a stone-cold Flimby classic, well, theres three to be precise, but this pair is one of them. If you asked any New Balance aficionado to name three models that are Flimby favourites, I reckon they’d name the 577, 670 and 1500, actually, I’d be willing to put money on that. But if we wanted to stretch that further and choose colourways of the 577 for example, 99% would most likely say the 577NG (navy/grey) and it’s no wonder when this colourway is a cult classic.

The New Balance factory in the UK is located at Flimby, near the Lake District, and behind every good factory, are it’s loyal workers. New Balance was founded in 1906 as ‘New Balance Arch Support Company’ and when 2006 came around, it was time to celebrate New Balance’s 100 year anniversary. For this celebration, NB were to produce three limited edition trainers to honour it’s three longest serving employees; Audrey Stewart, Ian Byers and Victor Dixon, who each have around 70 years of work between them at the Flimby factory, these are our ‘Flimby heroes’.

This celebration would be kept simple but effective, with the original grey/navy colourway being used on the three models, and only 1906 pairs will be produced. This may seem a large quantity when we compare it to numbers of store collaborations of around 120 units, but trust me, these pairs are harder to come-by than some of the rarest collaborations. Maybe it’s because they were bought, worn and appreciated like they should be, or some other reason, but if you have the set then consider yourself lucky!

Before we focus on one specific shoe, I thought you would enjoy a look at each pair from the Centenary Edition pack, so check them out below. (All images by Dean Chalkley).

Audrey Stewart who appears on the 577 is the longest serving of our Flimby Heroes and she has been working in the stitching department for almost 25 years when 2006 came around.

New Balance Centenary Audrey Stewart New Balance Centenary M577 Audrey Stewart

Victor Dixon appears on the 670 and he has been with the company since 1982. He is currently the warehouse operative but used to be in the shoe making teams.

New Balance Centenary Victor Dixon New Balance Centenary M670 Victor Dixon

Ian Byers who appears on the 1500 has also been working with New Balance since 1982 and works as the ‘toe and side laster’.

New Balance Centenary Ian Byers New Balance Centenary M1500 Ian Byers

Just for reference, the model codes are as follows – 577AS, 670VD and 1500IB.

Now that you’ve got an overview of the project, here’s a little bit about the 577AS with some detailed images and on-foot shots.

In my person opinion, the 577 is the best of the pack, and it’s made even sweeter because of the fact that the 577NG is produced and released every year with a consistently higher price but a consistently lower quality, which the price definitely doesn’t justify. However, the Audrey Stewart version of the 577, mainly because of the time it was produced (577NG from this time frame are the same quality), has a lush premium suede upper with premium nubuck and mesh underlays in a navy and grey colourway. Like I said, simple but effective. The AS features a tongue tab with a graphic on it of hills and a windmill, rather than the traditional text. One of the major plus points of the AS is the shape; because it is from 2006, this pre-dates Flimby’s experimenting with toe puffs and therefore the down-hill of the ‘sharp wedge’ shape that is sought after so much.

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Each pair comes with a Flimby Hero specific hangtag and Play Mobil like model (includes a little questionnaire), a certificate of authenticity, special insoles and tissue paper.

WOMFT – New Balance 1500CHF x Hanon Shop

Towards the end of last year I managed to pick up a second pair of this shoe, and to be honest, I don’t own many doubles, but with this pair being one of my favourites, it really is necessary.

As always, Hanon Shop ALWAYS deliver when it comes to a collaboration no matter what brand it is, and this 1500 was no different. Since 2010, in my humble opinion, Made in UK NB have been dealing with shape woes when it comes to their models, and the GR’s were gradually going downhill and starting to have a horrific banana shape teamed with a bulbous toe box, so when news leaked of Hanon collaborating with Flimby, we were all wondering the same thing….

Will Flimby sort it out??

The answer was yes, well, for this release anyway.

The guys at Hanon were well aware of the shape issues and pushed for it to be corrected for this release. The CHF used a different mesh to a normal 1500, a softer type which can be found on the 576NGA, and they also pushed and pushed for Flimby to use a different toe puff (the piece of material we hate). NB state that the toe puff creates structure and shape to the shoe, which yes, is correct, however, it gives the shoe this hideous bulbous appearance due to the size of said toe puff. Therefore, Hanon requested that a different and smaller toe puff be used.

It goes without saying that if the 1500CHF had been produced with the same shape of GR’s at their time then they wouldn’t be as much as a loved and sought after shoe as they currently are.

The 1500CHF was released back in 2012 and pays homage to 30 years of Flimby, with colourway and material ideas taken from iconic colourways on the 577 and 576 model. You really can’t go wrong with suede and mesh and navy/blues/greys when it comes to New Balance.

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New Balance 577BGP x LFSTL ‘Kakkerlak’

The New Balance 577BGP x LFSTL ‘Kakkerlak’ or ‘Cockroach’ when translated is one of my favourite and most treasured pairs, it’s also one of the pairs that many collectors class as a ‘grail’ if you must.

This pair was released in 2008 and designed by the guys from LFSTL, a boutique based in Rotterdam, Holland, and it pays particular homage to their city. Although the shoe is nicknamed after the cockroach, which is widely regarded as one of the most ‘dirty’ or ‘disgusting’ bugs there are, it has a certain meaning that the residents of Rotterdam can relate to.

A cockroach can adapt itself to it’s surrounding, and they even have the ability to survive some of the most severe bombings, much like the City of Rotterdam did in World War II, and this 577 make-up is a testament to that rebuilding phase and the City skyline. The ‘petrol’ colour symbolises the industry and harbour, as well as the river that splits the city in half, the grey, black and white represents common colours in Rotterdam’s architecture and the purple inner lining draws a link to the city’s ‘open-minded’ character.

As always with a collaboration, you expect the materials to be premium, and the Kakkerlak certainly doesn’t fall fault of that, with the use of pigskin suede, premium croc leather, perf suede, white patent and even everyone’s favourite gum sole to add contrast to the darkened midsole. Also, as an added touch, the cockroach image on the insoles and also the underside of the box lid are also a very nice extra touch.

The shoe itself is relatively hard to come by now, with value ranging into the high hundreds of pounds, many people are keen to keep a hold of their pair or sell for a high price, so good luck if you’re trying to find them. There are also a number of samples of this particular pair, which fair enough is common for most shoes, however, there’s rumoured to be possibly a double figured amount, only three of which I’ve seen, so I’m guessing the rest are with the guys in the Netherlands. (I’ve included some photos of the samples at the end of the post)

Check out some shots below;

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Here is some images of Kakkerlak samples;

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Picture by SHOOTO

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Picture by Fibs

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Picture by SHOOTO.

Here’s a nice link with some shots of the above sample;

http://snidehead.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/new-balance-x-lfstl-nb-577-kakkerlak-1.html

2014

So, I trust you all had a great festive period and a happy new year to you all!

I was pretty quiet over the Christmas period, for one reason or another, but I wanted to use this post to sum up 2013 in a few pictures and kick-off 2014 with a pick-up.

Anyway, 2013 for me was all about New Balance, whether that’s a good thing or not, that’s up to you, but I regard NB as my ‘favourite’ brand if you must.. brainwashed by the N. Rather than just being a consumer of all NB, unfortunately my bank doesn’t stretch that far, I have a particular focus for Made in England NB pre-2010, and below is a collection shot from December 2013;

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The reason why I have a particular focus on pre-2010 Made in England New Balance is mainly down to the shape issues that the recent releases all have, in my opinion of course, but I’m not going to dwell on that as I have a post planned at the end of the month, or maybe February.

Following the collection shot, I wanted to choose a top 5 from all my NB, including Asian made and US made;

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From front to back –

1. New Balance 577WIC x Hanon Shop ‘Wigan’

2. New Balance 1300JP 2010

3. New Balance 577BGP x LFSTL ‘Kakkerlak’

4. New Balance 670NTU x Norse Projects

5. New Balance 1500NYG

I mainly based the top 5 on pairs that I wear and treasure the most, there’s a couple that I would of liked to include such as 1500CHF and 577SNS but I had to be tough on them unfortunately, maybe I’ll do a top 10 sometime! Number 1 was pretty biased towards my Aberdeen roots, but I guess that was expected.

Last but not least, my first pick-up of 2014 if you must.. I actually paid for them just before the year ended, but because of the Christmas period, it took a little longer for them to arrive;

New Balance 577GSI x SNS

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Hopefully I’ll post more frequently, and I apologise for the short round up of 2013, but January is a busy month at university with exams and other things, so I’ll have some time when they’re out of the way!

Thanks for reading and all the best for 2014!

WOMFT – New Balance 576BBP x Offspring

I picked these up recently at Crepe City 9, and they have to be one of my favourite pick-ups of the year.

Although pink isn’t a first choice for me on any shoe, it works extremely well here with the two different shades of brown and the 576 model is perfect with the old Flimby shape.

I’m still trying to find out all the info about this pack as there isn’t much to go by online and I can’t say I was collecting when they were released around ’06(?), I’ll update when I find out, 6 pairs in the pack though.

Anyway, check out some of the pictures below;

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