In a year dominated by collaborations, New Balance delivered some of the best.
The Boston-based sportswear brand tapped some of the industry’s top talent in 2021, including beloved designers and boutique retail standouts, to reimagine several of its iconic looks. Names including Salehe Bembury, Joe Freshgoods, Ronnie Fieg of Kith and others all created stellar shoes that sneakerheads clamored for.
Below, six of the most respected voices in sneakers today share thoughts on some of New Balance’s best collaborations from the year.
Salehe Bembury 2002R “Water Be The Guide”
“Salehe Bembury, in my opinion, released arguably the best quality collaboration of 2021, partnered with New Balance on the 2002R ‘Water Be the Guide.’ In a time spent indoors much more than we’d like to be, Salehe reminded us how balanced we are in nature, how life should flow, vibrant like the Havasu Falls that inspired this colorway.” — T.J. Keasal
Bodega 990v3 “Anniversary”
“If New Balance did one thing right this year, it was making quality sneakers tied with thoughtful collaboration with powerful players in the industry — we saw this blended perfectly with the Bodega 990v3 ‘Anniversary.’ From the beautiful shade of brown to the top-tier materials to the endearing story of Bodega’s humble beginnings, it’s only right their first Made In America 990V3 celebrates a new chapter for this amazing partnership.” — David “Kari” Daniels
Joe Freshgoods 990v3 “Outside Clothes”
“My favorite New Balance this year overall may be the ‘Protection Pack’ releases, but my favorite collab with New Balance is definitely Joe Freshgoods ‘Outside Clothes.’ I feel like not only was the release itself a masterpiece, but the storytelling behind the shoe itself was crazy too. It’s easy to see how hands on Joe is with his work. That was obvious by the content rollout and definitely the initial Chicago release for the community.” — Ricky Shoebio
Bricks & Wood 57/40
“I was obsessed with the marketing rollout for this capsule, I almost hopped on a plane to go home to California to see it in real life for myself. As [Bricks & Wood founder] Kacey [Lynch] mentioned, it was designed for the L.A. kid, and I thought it was executed beautifully.” — Jazerai Allen-Lord
Aimé Leon Dore 550
“The spring release featured two super clean colorways of the New Balance 550 in collaboration with Aimé Leon Dore. I was lucky enough to grab the white/cream/green pair, but the white/red/navy pair is absolutely fire as well. The quality on both are exceptional and the execution was flawless. I think it’s safe to say New Balance might’ve had the biggest year in 2021.” — Henry Francois
Ronnie Fieg for New Balance RC 1300 Kith 10th Anniversary
“The Ronnie 1300 tops my NB collab list. Mainly, because it’s not a 550 and I love the use of Kith’s monogram logo print on the ‘N.’ I think NB needs to diversify their collaborative bonds further in 2022. They need to mix it up more. But they’re on the right track heading into 2022.” — Robbie Falchi