The History of New Balance’s 990
These are some of the words people throw around when describing the New Balance 990 series. Making its debut in 1982, the
original 990’s technology and cushioning made it a hit on running trails and grocery runs. 4 decades in and multiple versions of this
New Balance fan favourite has released with collaborations and changes to its design while still staying true to its 990 DNA. 5
versions have released so far with a sixth one on the way proving that the 990 is still popular to this day since its debut 40 years
ago.New Balance has always had a way of balancing (no pun intended) that fine line between performance and lifestyle in their shoes
and the 990 is one of the best examples you can find.
Not too long ago, Teddy Santis aka the founder of Aimé Leon Dore was appointed as the Creative Director of New Balance’s Made in USA line. For the uninitiated, Aimé Leon Dore is one of the hottest names in menswear and their collaborations with New Balance has been met with critical acclaim. While many are hopeful for what’s to come, we have been teased with images of a 990v2 that simply looks gorgeous. But before we get into that, let’s dive a little into the history of 990 that have been officially released
“Among the best running sneakers ever made.”
The 990v1 released as the most technologically advanced running shoe with technology such as Motion Control Device that is still used by New Balance today. It took New Balance 3 years to develop these shoes combining flexibility, cushioning and stability. Being the most expensive running shoes at the time also gave it a status symbol. You either took your running very seriously or you were just rich enough to afford them. Expecting only 5000 units to be sold, New Balance eventually sold 10 times that amount.
16 years later, New Balance updated the 990 with a new design and new technology to boot, namely its ABZORB midsole for shock absorption. It was a completely new re-design particularly with the bulging midsole at the heel area and a smaller but still prominent ‘N’ on the sides of the shoes’ upper. The 990v2 to this day remains as one of the favourites among NB collectors and it’s not hard to see why
In conjunction with the 990’s 30th anniversary in 2012, the 990v3 was released looking like its slightly chunkier sibling without losing its performance and lifestyle appeal. 3M panelling with more mesh covering its upper made this shoe more appealing for casual use without sacrificing its functionality. An ENCAP midsole makes its debut on the 990v3, which is still used in current versions of the silhouette.
Releasing at a time when the ‘dad shoes’ trend was at an all-time high in 2016, the 990v4 was received by the masses with open arms. Not changing too much from the previous version, this version had multiple collaborations including one with Stüssy that sold out instantly and was popular in the resell market. To some, the 990v4 was the perfect re-design of a classic New Balance silhouette that people were familiar with
2019 was the year that the 5th version of the 990 was released. With a slightly less aggressive look than the v3 or v4, the 990v5 had a TPU strap at the ankle area while suede and mesh completed the look of the upper. 3M panels were all over the upper as well with it being seen on the tongue and foxing on the upper. The midsole also had a slightly ‘toned down’ look to them compared to previous iterations.
If you are excited now for 990 releases, here’s one that might get you interested. This 990v2 that some say has been curated by Teddy Santis himself is an absolute banger. Featuring hairy grey suede and green mesh for breathability on its upper, this 990v2 is a sneaker that definitely looks like a future classic. ABZORB branding and a classic cream coloured midsoles complete the look and already we can’t wait for the release. Teased earlier this year, if you are a sneakerhead, you definitely need this in your collection. If you aren’t but want to start somewhere, we say there’s no better way to start then right here with the legendary 990s.
Author: Aaron Lee