New Balance 990
1982 was a landmark year for popular culture. Late Night with some dude named David Letterman made its debut, establishing a new standard for television talk shows. Michael Jackson was inspired to create an album where every single song was a banger and released Thriller. Blade Runner premiered in theaters, widely regarded as one of the best Sci-Fi films of all time. And this "fad" known as Hip-hop was heading in an unstoppable direction with the release of Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s "The Message”. Clearly it was a time of new heights, new standards. Here we are, 39 years later, and our hearts still beat for that era.
Also debuting in 1982 was New Balance’s now much beloved 990 model. Remember their famous advertising campaign that boasted "Our Track Record Includes The Most Firsts"? Coming in at a whopping $100.00 for a pair, the 990s were the very first high performance running shoes breaking the triple-figure mark. While the price was steep, especially in those times, it could be duly justified by the advanced technology and sophisticated combination of protection, comfort and premium quality that was implemented in this particular model.
The 990 provides the perfect balance between flexibility and support achieved through various innovative processes at the time, such as the slip lasting method. This is a lasting process where the insole board is stitched around the last bottom edge and then steamed into shape to complete the upper. To help reduce excessive pronation, the 990’s midsole was embedded with a polyurethane footbed also known as "Motion Control", a design feature which remains present in some of New Balance’s footwear today. And they did all this stuff while looking good effortlessly, making them a status symbol of sorts on and off the tracks, blurring the lines between performance and lifestyle.
Over the course of the past few years we've seen the rise of normcore, often interpreted as a reaction to fashion oversaturation resulting from ever faster-changing trends. We have seen many brands hop on that bandwagon, recreating silhouettes from that era. But not New Balance. They're the OGs. They have been occupying that space for decades as the undisputed champions of dad shoe aesthetic and ethos. As stated in a more recent campaign of theirs: "Worn by supermodels in London and dads in Ohio." This is a realistic and very factual assessment. That grey suede and craftsmanship just exudes old - world charm and timelessness at the same time. The cultural significance is undeniable, and they're the perfect palate cleansers to have in your collection. That's why 990s are here to stay and will resonate with connoisseurs well beyond the dad shoe era. Recommended for devoted stylers.
Words by Masta Lee