History of New Balance
New Balance started out as the New Balance Arch Support Company founded by a British emigrant, William J Riley in 1906. The company then manufactured arch supports and accessories to help with improving shoe fit. The first product was a flexible arch support allowing for better balance and comfort. It is believed that Riley was the one who came up with the name when he observed chickens feet, which gave perfect balance. Riley marketed his product well to people who needed to be on their feet for long periods of time, like policemen and fire fighters.
The Growth of the Company
The company grew as did its products and in 1960 New Balance began to focus on athletic sneakers. Even though they were manufacturing sneakers the company was still manufacturing sneakers for the workforce concentrating on arch supports. In 1956 New Balance was sold to Eleanor and Paul Kidd and they released an athletic shoe, the “Trackster” which had a ripple sole and also the first shoe offered in various widths. Colleges soon took an interest in the shoe and were keen to use it for their track teams and soon the word spread and more and more athletes began hearing about it. “Trackster” became very popular with runners and track stars, but New Balance had a policy of not sponsoring teams or athletes believing that the quality of their brand spoke for itself.
A Loyal Brand
Like the best brands, New Balance continued to grow and became a name that athletes could rely on for quality and comfort. During the 1970s the Greater Boston area saw an increase in runners and this was great business for New Balance. “Trackster” was branded as the only running shoe that New Balance had branded and they began running ad campaigns in the wake of this. The company was vocal that comfort and fit was the most important part of an athletic shoe and this made New Balance a popular choice for their customers and increased those that loyal to the brand.
In 1983 during the fitness boom New Balance launched the 565 Model and while most athletic shoes were manufactured especially for running on sidewalks the 565 was made for off-road running. This model was made from durable material and designed in such a way that it was just as comfortable as regular running sneakers and runners could run in off road areas. This model can still be found and there are a few variations as well as their “Everlight” walking shoe from their classic collection made from a different material and is more flexible with a zip instead of laces.
New Balance is a brand that is known worldwide and used by athletes and in 2015 they entered the soccer market and their brand was included in a line of speciality sneakers used in various sports. Around 30% of their products are made in Flimby in the UK while the remainder of their products are manufactured in the US in Maine and Massachusetts.