New Balance MRL996DB Deconstructed

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I’ve been really excited about a lot of the New Balance ‘Reengineered’ pairs to come out of New Balance Japan, and I finally managed to get my hands on a pair thanks to Soleheaven.

It seems like New Balance have found their preferred model for messing around with and creating stunning new uppers in the form of the 996, a shoe that was released in 1989 and hailed for superior support and cushioning. This particular part of the ‘Reengineered’ series comes in the form of three colourways of New Balance 996, and has been dubbed ‘Deconstructed’ due to it’s minimalist complexion.

The ‘Deconstructed’ pairs come in three colours for now; sage, beige, and brown, with the beige pair being featured in this post. The MRL996DB features a beige, nubuck and suede upper, with perforated detailing along the toe box, upper and inside the large ‘N’ logo. The shoe come with a set of tonal beige leather laces and a contrast brown leather brown brand tab, completing the minimalistic style upper by adding a touch of class. The 996 remains extremely comfy and supportive with a white REVlite midsole and heel counter.

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Private Preview of the New Balance 1500FPK x Footpatrol ‘Encyclopaedia’

It seems like every week there are at least 5+ collaborations releasing, and I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s pretty hard to keep up, but Made in UK New Balance collaborations are few and far between these days, so when one of them come along, there’s always quite a bit of excitement surrounding it. Then when you throw in UK heavyweights Footpatrol from London, the anticipation for this collaboration was only ever going to increase!

Before I get into the private preview of the shoe, let’s take a look at the Footpatrol images of the New Balance 1500FPK, along with some details about the collaboration.

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The release has been dubbed ‘Encyclopaedia’, and the tagline ‘Knowledge is Key’ has accompanied the collaboration since the first few teaser images were released. Footpatrol have came together with New Balance UK to pay homage to arguably the most informative and detailed reference source – the Britannica Encyclopaedia.

The Britannica Encyclopaedia was first published in 1768, and was produced in fifteen editions until it’s present physical volume in 2012, and this shoe uses this source of knowledge as it’s inspiration. If you look at the shoe, and then look at the Britannica Encyclopaedia pictured, it’s clear that the people of Footpatrol and New Balance have worked extremely hard to execute this concept to the highest of standards.

The New Balance 1500FPK has a screams premium at first glance, with it’s predominantly black upper, decked out in only the best materials, with plush suede on the toe wrap and ankle sections, complimented by some smooth black leather across the toe box, side panels and tongue. Some contrast gold detailing comes in the form of the embroidery on the tongue, heel logo and of course the traditional small single embroidered ‘N’ logo on the lateral side. The heel logo on the medial side features a blacked out double embroidered ‘N’ logo, which is a really nice touch. There is also an embroidered tab on the rear of the tongue, which features an illustration of a book with the tagline ‘Knowledge is Key’, while the insole takes elements from some of the content found in the Encyclopaedia, in an off white colour with an anatomical illustration of the human foot. It doesn’t end there though, as no shoe is complete without some reflectiveness in my opinion, and this comes in the form of the reflective piping around the ankle collar.

You’d think we’d be finished by now on the detailing front, right? But no, adding to the already class details, the shoe is sat on top of an off-white midsole, and has everyone’s favourite gum coloured outsole. As a little reminder as to who the brains are behind this collaboration, the famous Footpatrol gas mask comes in a black and gold swing tag. Finally the vibrant Red New Balance logo situated on the heel and the outsole is a nod to both the bookmarker found in the reference book and the flagship colour used on the NB logo.

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With the release set for Saturday 24th January, Footpatrol and New Balance personally selected a small number of people, mainly press and loyal customers to join them for a special preview of the Footpatrol Encyclopaedia ‘Knowledge is Key’ 1500. The event took place at the stunning Library on St. Martin’s Lane, an exclusive private members club just off London’s famous Leicester Square, and this is where the original shots featured above were taken.

Here we would also be treated to a personal Q+A with the New Balance team – Tom Henshaw, Andy Okolowicz, Chris Hodgson, and Jamie Metcalfe, as well as an insight into the Footpatrol shoe, while being able to indulge in some fine food and drink. It’s quite rare to be treated to events of this form, as usually it’s just a case of a venue with some music and lots and lots of beer, but the efforts that both NB and Team FP went to organise this classy event fits in with the whole theme of the collaboration perfectly.

When we talk about New Balance, and discuss things online, a lot of the information is taken from various websites, or stuff you’ve picked up through the years, but to be sat down with people like Chris and Andy, and be able to tap into their comprehensive knowledge of all things NB, whether it’s creative or technical, it really is quite something. Hats off to Jimmy and the rest of Team Footpatrol too, who were more than happy to discuss any aspect of their great project, and obviously like us who were just grateful to be in the room, they were grateful to be one of the very few who are given the opportunity to work with New Balance UK and produce such a stunning shoe.

When you think about this project in more depth, and as was pointed out by Jimmy of Footpatrol, the use of the Encyclopaedia Britannica as inspiration for a Made in UK New Balance is very appropriate, especially since the Encyclopaedia has a long standing tie to British heritage – it even has a thistle for it’s logo! The Encyclopaedia is high quality to touch, and craftmanship is something that New Balance pride themselves on, especially when it comes down to materials, with only the finest being used on this project. One particular interesting fact mentioned by Chris Hodgson in relation to materials was that the leather used throughout the shoe, is in fact, waterproof, and it was sourced from English tanneries.

The New Balance 1500FPK sees a production run of around 1320 pairs, which doesn’t seem like all that many, but be sure to keep your eyes open for a worldwide release soon, but in the mean time, check out some pictures below from the event.

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New Balance MRT580SG x Shoe Gallery ‘Tour de Miami’

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There weren’t many New Balance collaborations in 2014 that caught my eye, but when New Balance teamed up with Miami natives Shoe Gallery, this was a pair that I had to get my hands on.

This shoe draws inspiration from the biking culture and the vibrancy of South Beach, and this is shown in the striking blue uppers with bold red accents to compliment, reminiscent of the colours of cycling clothing company Rapha. Another nice touch is the carbon-fibre heel set, commonly found on high performance bikes to reduce the weight significantly. Every shoe needs some reflective material, and we find that in the way of the red collar.

Now, the MT580 isn’t a model that I would usually go out my way to buy, I personally find the model quite chunky with the roll bar, and then very clumpy when worn. However, add a RevLite midsole to drastically reduce the weight, while increasing comfort, and then a no-sew upper giving the shoe a really sharp wedge profile, and in steps the MRT580. That is a shoe that I can wear.

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New Balance x Sneakersnstuff – Collaboration History

Originating in Stockholm, Swedish duo Peter and Erik have been in the business for well over ten years now, and are widely regarded as two of the best in this industry. Due to their popularity and successfulness in Stockholm, in 2005 they opened a second store in Malmo, and subsequently took their business overseas and have recently settled in London.

With their success came many opportunities, and Sneakersnstuff have collaborated with many brands over the years, having been named as the ‘King of collabs’ numerous times. For many years now, New Balance have been collaborating with stores across the globe, but very few have as strong a relationship with New Balance like Swedish heavyweights Sneakersnstuff do. In fact, New Balance were one of the first brands to give Sneakersnstuff the opportunity to do a collaboration.

 

2005

New Balance x Sneakersnstuff “Round 1”

As the title of the collaboration suggests, the first collaboration between New Balance and Sneakersnstuff came in 2005, and it wasn’t without drama, that’s for sure. However, mistakes sometimes pay off and when it comes down to footwear, it usually makes things a little more interesting.

The Sneakersnstuff pair were invited to the famous Flimby factory in Cumbria, England, and they knew that the visit was mostly about doing a collaboration, but around this time, it was still relatively early days for NB UK on the collaborating front. After receiving a grand tour of the factory, they had very little time to come up with the designs for these shoes, but knew the model that they wanted to work on, and started to hand pick the materials they wanted to use, so that was a good start at least.

There were only 96 pairs of each colourway produced for the “Round 1” pairs, a time when New Balance collaborations were extremely limited, with sub 200 pairs seen very very often.

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Image from Complex.

The 577SNS1 was designed by Erik and it draws inspiration from the Swedish flag, and also the flag of the Canary Islands as this was the birthplace of Erik’s father-in-law. The shoe features blue suede, and yellow leather on the upper, with a white leather perforated toebox, all sat on the traditional Encap 577 sole unit.

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Image from Size Eleven.

Material options were limited at the Flimby factor, however, they are well known for their premium materials, and we see this on Peter’s design, from the leather toe box to the suede heel wrap. A classic design, which was slightly inspired by the classic 577 in navy and the 997 in grey, uses all these colours and a clean white leather toe wrap and perforated toe box with mixes of suede on the rest of the upper.

As I mentioned previously, the first collaboration wasn’t without drama, and the SNS guys got a little more than they had originally bargained for.

577SNS1 “The Secret Colourway”

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Image from Complex.

As can be seen in the first 577SNS1 posted a couple of pictures above, Erik’s Round 1 samples were blue and yellow, they way he designed them, but when they received the pairs, Flimby had changed the blue to more of a mint green and also added some more yellow to the shoe.

It wasn’t the shoe Erik designed, but they decided to release them anyway, but rather than releasing pictures of them prior to launch, they had a countdown clock on the Sneakersnstuff website for ‘The Secret 577’. Unfortunately, some pictures managed to leak a few minutes before the launch, but the shoe was well received and all 96 pairs sold out.

 

2007

New Balance x Sneakersnstuff “Round 2”

Two years on from their first collaboration, they were back, and once again, revisiting the 577, a model which had quickly became one of their favourites from the New Balance arsenal.

This time, rather than the original 577 sole unit, they wanted to do something different and have an all white sole unit (outsole included), which wasn’t exactly received well, but it works, and compliments both colourways extremely well.

Both colourways were produced in 252 pairs each, so there were 504 pairs in total for the set, which was quite a lot at the time of release but unfortunately this had to be the number as it was the minimum for a new sole unit then.

577GSI “Peter”

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For Peter’s colourway, he used the same premium synthetic leather which was used on the original 1500, along with some premium pig skin suede. The yellow New Balance detailing is a nice touch and looks good against the bluey/grey colourway.

577GPI “Erik”

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Images from Complex.

The 577GPI is arguably one of the best 577’s around, that earth tone colourway works perfectly and it has some of the best materials ever used on a New Balance. One unusual touch on this shoe is the pink lining, and unfortunately, this wasn’t available at Flimby so Erik had to source the pink silky smooth lining himself.

 

2008

New Balance x Sneakersnstuff “Round 3”

There was a bit of a familiar theme by the time the third round of collaborations came about, I guess that was one of the benefits of having two people behind a store – two shoes each time, and often two very different takes on the colourways.

For the third round of the New Balance x Sneakersnstuff collaborartions, did you really expect them to work on any model other than the 577? Not a chance, it was almost a tradition by this point, but a very good one at that.

Much like “Round 2”, Erik and Peter wanted to change up the midsole a little, and now Flimby had the ability to create a midsole that was different to the traditional 577 midsole without having to produce larger quantities of the shoe. This is why “Round 3” has a smaller production run of 150 pairs each, in comparison to the 252 pairs each for the last round.

577SNP “Peter”

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As you might have gathered by now, Peter likes to keep his colourways simple, but always with the most premium of materials, so for “Round 3” he did a black upper with mostly suede, but also some leather and hints of 3M. Similar to an artist signing his work, Peter darkened the ‘P’ of the ‘ENCAP’ on the midsole to mark his pair.

577SNE “Erik”

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Images from Complex.

Much like his “Round 1 and 2” colourways (577SNS1 and 577GPI), Erik pulled together something a lot more colourful. The shoe features a lime green, light blue, and navy blue suede upper, along with a purple mesh toe box. Similar to Peter’s pair, he also went for the signature touch on the midsole, highlighting the ‘E’ from the other letters, and also doing the same to all the ‘E’s’ on the tongue.

Make sure you check out this interview via Sneakerfreaker with Erik and Peter regarding the “Round 3” collaborations with New Balance.

 

2009

New Balance x Sneakersnstuff “RGB Pack”

This time, SNS teamed up with New Balance to produce this pack in celebration of their tenth anniversary after they first opened their doors in 1999. The pack duped the RGB Pack (red, green and blue – simply the three colours used to render colours in an electronic display), consisted of three different models; 577, 1500 and 1700 – red, green and blue, respectively.

This was the fourth collaboration with New Balance that Erik and Peter worked on, and if it wasn’t already evident that they were the masters of materials, then this pack confirms it. The guys at SNS each worked on a shoe individually; Peter worked the 577, Johan the 1500 and Erik the 1700.

The three shoes were Made in England at the legendary Flimby factory, and all consist of the high-grade premium materials that were consistently used around this time. They also sport the very sought after ‘original shape’ if you must, which makes them just that little bit more delightful.

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The 577 is decked out red suede and leather, has a pigskin perforated suede toebox and some 3M flashes for good measure, and of course, represents the “red” of the “RGB Pack”.

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The 1500 has some plush leather on the tongue, and a mainly suede upper in green and grey, with a deep white mesh toe box and some 3M piping, and represents the “green” of the “RGB Pack”.

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The 1700 comes in a couple of shades of blue with some yellow, and features to the ripstop upper and faux nubuck but the man-made materials are completely vegan, so a perfect shoe if you’re into that and/or appreciate the diversity. This pair represents the “blue” of the “RGB Pack”.

Check out the below image from EU Kicks of the full New Balance x Sneakersnstuff “RGB Pack”.

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2012

New Balance x Sneakersnstuff x Milkcrate Athletics

For Sneakersnstuff’s fifth collaboration with New Balance, they revisited the 577, which they are particularly well known for using in their earlier collaborations, a favourite model of theirs indeed.  This time they partnered up with Aaron LaCrate of Milkcrate Athletics, and Baltimore meets Stockholm to produce two 577 make-ups.

The collaboration comes about through friendship and also a mutual love for footwear, and both sides agreed to have two separate colourways, one of which represented Milkcrate Athletics, and the other represents Sneakersnstuff Stockholm.

577SN1 –

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The New Balance 577SN1 is “Easter egg-colourful” and if you were to hazard a guess, 99% of you would probably work out that this was the pair put together by Aaron of Milkcrate. Aaron’s refreshing and vibrant personality and style shines through on this pair, decked out in pastel coloured suede, and some white perforated leather.

577SN2 –

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Images from Sneakersnstuff.

The SNS side of the collaboration comes correct with a subtle grey colourway, very traditional of New Balance as a brand itself. Lush suede and white perforated leather is also used on this pair, mirroring the 577SN1 except for the colourway.

Check out the following video for the collaboration with a little insight into the relationship of Milkcrate and SNS, and also some details about the 577’s.

Gary Warnett of Crooked Tongues interviewed both Erik and Peter of Sneakersnstuff, and also Aaron of Milkcrate Athletics, ahead of the release of this shoe, so be sure to check it out here, as it makes for a very interesting read.

 

2014

New Balance CT300PSN x SNS “1999”

So, this collaboration with New Balance is a little bit different from all the previous ones, because instead of working on an archive running model, NB proposed the CT300, a Made in UK tennis shoe which was first released in 1979.

This collaboration would come as a part of a set of 4, alongside make-ups from hanon shop, Firmament and 24 Kilates. The CT300 features an extremely lightweight upper, which consists of closed mesh and suede overlays. It is also built with superior cushioning and the unique sole unit of polyurethane and encapsulated gum rubber provides great durability.

Diving into the archives and bringing back a piece of history seemed like a good opportunity for the SNS guys to revisit how their Stockholm store first looked in 1999. When the Stockholm store was first opened in 1999, the walls were painted grey, a colour more subtle than white, and one which would distract attention away from the products. The store wasn’t exactly the largest space, so to make it feel bigger, the ceiling was painted white, and a burgundy border was added at the top of the walls. So that’s the inspiration behind the colourway, and add in the premium materials, which are typical of the Flimby factory, and you have a great shoe.

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Image from Sneakernews.

Be sure to check out the below video for the New Balance CT300 collaborations.

 

So the most recent New Balance CT300 collaboration rounds up the Sneakersnstuff collaboration set, but I’m sure that this isn’t going to be the last with New Balance, maybe we’ll even see them revisit the 577?

A lot of brands and stores try to bring out shoes that are inspired by a storyline, or some sort of inspiration, but excluding a couple, it’s nice to see people just designing shoes based on what they like. Also, Round 1 to 3 are probably some of the strongest pairs of New Balance, and the way that Erik and Peter work independently on the uppers and then try to tie together the sole units works perfectly, and gives some amazing results.

Here’s to more collaborations and success from the Sneakersnstuff team!

New Balance Autumn/Winter 2014 – Part 2

Following on from a previous post of A/W 2014 Leaks, here are some more unseen pairs via hanon shop which will be available to pre-order from September 1st, and releasing in October sometime.

I had already posted a few of the Made in USA pairs on the previous post, but here we get to see them in all their glory with the clean stock pictures, and that 1300 is still looking superb.

New Balance 1300DGR –

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New Balance 998BK and 998DO –

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Continuing on with the 577 25th Anniversary vibe for this year, NB are dropping more colourways, and that shape somehow seems to be getting better with time, which is always good news.

New Balance 577SGB and 577STK –

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Along with the 577, one of my favourite Flimby made models is the 670, but maybe for the last year or so, there haven’t really been any eye-catching colourways and the shape has never been close to comparable to some of the pre-2010 stuff. However, these two upcoming colourways get the thumbs up from me.

New Balance 670SBG and 670SGK –

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As well as the above shoes, I was just browsing hanon shop website and realised that they have a few others up for pre-order but don’t actually have any pictures of them. The Gentleman’s Choice 1500’s are there too for £145, 1500GMN and 1500GMB respectively.

Here’s the pics via End Clothing:

New Balance 1500GMN –

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New Balance 1500GMB –

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New Balance 1300BK –

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New Balance 574BG –

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There’ll be some more A/W 14 pairs to drop in the following months so as soon as they hit pre-order, I’ll upload a blog post for them. Keep an eye out.

LEAKS! – New Balance Autumn/Winter 2014

Following on from the last post, I checked out this collection back in April, and it’s taken a long time for some pictures to show up on the internet, but nevertheless, they did, so check them out below.

Again, we see more of the same from New Balance USA, but that pair of 1300’s really caught my eye, and I’m looking forward to checking them out in person. We also see New Balance sticking with some denim on another 1300 make-up.

Stay tuned on my blog for when more pictures become available.

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All images via The Shoe Game.

LEAKS! – New Balance Spring/Summer 2015

There’s been a few times that I’ve sat down and wrote a couple of pieces about ‘leaks’, but I’ve never actually posted one. It’s a touchy subject for all brands/stores together, and for people who initiate leaks when they’re not meant to that represent the brand/store, well, I can’t imagine they’d be in their employer’s good books.

However, it is 2014 and the world has been engulfed in social media, whether it be Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever other social platform there is, so it’s pretty inevitable that leaks are going to happen. It’s not all bad though as the consumer love leaks, and that’s no word of a lie. There’s nothing the next man wants more than a sneak peak at an upcoming collaboration with a store, or a couple of their favourite models from a brand’s unreleased collection let slip and up for sale on eBay. It creates a huge amount of anticipation, and excitement amongst everyone and keeps them talking, which surely for the most part is good for the brand.

Anyway, that’s a discussion for another time, I just wanted a brief introduction before I let loose some of these samples for New Balance Spring/Summer 2015 Collection, which were advertised for sale on eBay and Klekt. This was a month or so ago and they’ve been populating the world wide web ever since, so this isn’t exactly the first time they’ve been seen.

So what’s in store for Spring/Summer 2015? I had seen various pairs from this collection a couple of months before they surfaced on the internet, and only a few had really caught my eye.

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More of the same, that’s for sure, the New Balance 997 is sticking around for a while, and although I welcomed back this model with open arms, much like the 990, it seems like it’s going down the same road – at least two colourways every season, and then throw in a couple of collaborations. The word ‘overkill’ springs to mind, I’d of been more than happy sticking with the grey and navy pairs, then maybe a couple more.

New Balance 997DOL –

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On-to the New Balance 990 now, and just recently this model was made available on the US New Balance site for customisation, so now the possibilities are endless – material choices are currently limited to just suede and mesh.

We’ve seen a lot of ‘Premium Packs’ if you must, with a bunch of standard NB pack names to go along with them, ‘Connoisseurs’, ‘Distinct’, ‘Author’, etc etc etc, so we will be welcoming the Horween Leather 990 very soon.

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New Balance 990BHR –990bhr horween2 - ss15 sample

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What more can we expect from the Made in USA side of things for Spring/Summer 2015? Well, the New Balance 998 firmly holds it’s place in the USA collection, along with maybe another 997, a premium 990 which looks really good, but the most exciting news about S/S 2015 is the USA Bringback Collection.

The USA Bringback collection will consist of the 990GRY, which you may remember was released not too long ago for it’s 30th anniversary, so if you missed out then you’ll have another chance to grab them. Along with that will also be a grey 998, possibly very similar, if not the same as the pair which Roadrunner Sports have been releasing for the last few years, and finally, the 1300JP (5 years since it’s last release), probably the most anticipated shoe from the USA collection.

Made in UK –

The Made in UK side of New Balance is my forte, but for the last few years, it’s all been pretty poor in my opinion, and that’s not just because of the shape issue, the colourways and materials haven’t exactly been up to scratch when you compare them with what Flimby were capable of pre-2010.

The usual UK models making an appearance, but not much to really talk about. A while back we seen some pics of the ‘Gentleman’s Choice’ Pack and you can see one of the 1500’s in all of their glory below.

New Balance 577SMO –

577smo - ss15 sample

New Balance 1500GMN –1500gmn - sample

New Balance 1500SG –1500sg - ss15 sample

New Balance 1500NAV –1500nav - ss15 sample

New Balance 576PGT –576pgt - ss15 sample

Much like the Made in USA collection, Flimby have also been working on some premium packs, and one of them worth noting, probably only because of the 1500, which is guaranteed to be a winner with everyone. The only picture I can share is of the pack in the colours of the ‘Union Jack’, the red 1500, blue CT300 and the tip of the toebox of the white 577.

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Once the pre-orders are up at all the usual retailers, I will compile another post of both collections. Until then, enjoy speculating, I’m sure more leaks/teasers will appear soon.