Upgrades or Updates?
Teddy Santis, founder and owner of lifestyle brand Aimé Leon Dore, has just surprised the sneaker world with his latest Instagram post. Recently appointed as creative director of New Balance, the designer revealed what seems to be the newest Flagship of New Balance’s 990 lineup: The New Balance 990v6.
New Balance has seen substantial growth in popularity over the last years, thanks to interesting collabs with upcoming brands such as Aimé Leon Dore, Casablanca, Bodega and more. With the 990v6 possibly releasing in 2022, the brand seems to refocus on their flagship silhouette, with sneakerheads excited for more possible collabs.
We provide a chronological overview of the New Balance 990’s, from the v1 until the v6, with mentionable colourways and collabs!
New Balance 990v1 (1982)
This sneaker started it all. 40 years ago, New Balance started off what would be one of the most successful silhouette evolution of modern time. The “Version One” strived towards “extraordinary flexibility without the slightest sacrifice of support”, an attitude that still exemplifies New Balance today.
New Balance also revealed a new patented Motion Control Device that provided excellent ankle support and enhanced durability. Further attracting customers through the width-varying sizing, the sneaker gained insane popularity and really set the stone for a prosperous path.
New Balance 990v2 (1998)
New technology, upgraded comfort, enhanced materials, updated look. This version is surely not forgotten yet. Many sneakerheads will immediately identify the silhouette, thanks to prominent collaborations including Ronnie Fieg’s Kith and Teddy Santis’ Aimé Leon Dore. The latter is arguably what set the fruitful partnership between ALD and New Balance in Motion, releasing as the main sneaker of the “Life in the Balance” campaign. The sneaker was extremely sought-after and is crazily difficult to find on the market.
Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 990v2 "Life in the Balance"
New Balance 990v3 (2012)
Marking the 30th anniversary of the New Balance 990, the brand deemed it adequate to release a new, reworked version of the model. After previously having shifted focus on the 991 and 992, the brand returned to the 990, the OG, and gave it an overhauled look. By Reducing weight and improving breathability, the sneaker got equipped with mesh panels and high-quality perforated upper panels.
What makes the 990v3 so special is unarguably the design. While the running technology itself remained the same as compared to its predecessor, the 990v3 really saw a design refurbishment. The mesh panels created an even chunkier, yet more streamlined design, which would remain incorporated in the successive models to come.
Kith x New Balance 990v3 Black
Once again, Ronnie Fieg used the silhouette as a canvas to reap his creativity with multiple Kith-iterations of the 990v3.
New Balance 990v4 (2016)
Just three years after the 990v3 released, New Balance was back with yet another renewal of their flagship line-up. The v4 featured a completely redesigned midsole with even more improvement in comfort levels.
While only being the forefront of the 990-lineup for three years, the sneaker made bold statements through incredible colourways and prominent collaborations. Once again, Kith was quick to hop on the train, releasing gorgeous Navy, Black and Grey colourways of the iconic shoe.
Stussy x New Balance 990v4 Cream
However, arguably the best and most noticeable brand to release their take on the 990v4 was Stussy. In late 2017, the Californian lifestyle brand released the 990v4 “Cream”, an ultra-clean off-white shoe with high-quality suede and mesh upper. The Stussy Cream is still one of the most sought-after New Balance shoes, and will remain a legendary sneaker for years to come.
Stussy x New Balance 990v4 Cream
New Balance 990v5 (2019)
Just three years after the release of the successful 990v4, New Balance stepped up their game once again. With the release slogan “Worn by supermodels in Milan and dads in Ohio”, the brand really emphasized the sneakers multifunctionality and omnipresence. The 990 is not just a dad shoe, but it isn’t just some overpriced hype sneaker either.
However, the change compared to the v4 was fairly minimal. If it’s not broken, why try to fix it?
Besides a TPU “power strap” for enhanced support on the heel and some changes to the mesh, the sneaker remained very similar to its predecessor. A little wider, a little more cushioning, some midsole upgrades, but nothing major. Comparable to the iPhone, upgrades are becoming more incremental, converging the 990 to become the perfect sneaker.
New Balance 990v5 Junya Watanabe
Notable collaborations include a Junya Watanabe of CDG, Aimé Leon Dore, Shoe City, YCMC, size?, Engineered Garments, the list goes on. New Balance went all out with 990v5 collabs, and they were stunning.
Aimé Leon Dore x New Balance 990v5 "Life in the Balance"
New Balance 990v6 (presumably 2022)
Now, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of the most noteworthy and well-known sneakers of the last decades, New Balance is back with the v6. And for the first time since the v3, the changes are quite radical.
As compared to the previous editions, the v6 features a more streamlined and athletics-focused design, while still staying true to the original chunky “dad shoe” look. Further, instead of the famous “N” logo being the figure in the foreground, it is overlayed by suede mudguards, thereby slightly concealing and integrating it.
The changes really display New Balance’s attempt to maybe shift away from the look everybody has become accustomed to. Try something new, create room for new and exciting collaborations, adapt to modern trends whilst remaining true to the heritage.
by Freddy Schwoerer of Drip Drops