It’s been 20 years since the first model of one of New Balance‘s most iconic sneakers, the 991, a cult 99x series shoe made in the legendary factory in Flimby, Cumbria, UK.
To celebrate the important milestone, New Balance has created a special model of the 991, available for both men and women, which will be released worldwide on February 26th at a retail price of $200.
To mark this anniversary, we decided to tell the story of the New Balance 991, a contemporary icon of sneaker culture.
To begin to tell the story of the 991 it is important to start with a date, 1978.
Mass consumerism had become part of everyone’s life, computers were beginning their climb towards indispensability, international trade was an established reality and a book The Complete Book of Running, published a year earlier by James F. Fixx, which exposed the benefits of jogging, was on the shelves of every bookstore and running was the most popular physical exercise – so runners of the time were already ready to spend their money to put on their feet the best shoes for their daily runs. And it was 1978 that saw the birth of the concept for the 990 and New Balance’s decision to make the best running shoe ever.
Most companies that produced sneakers at the time had begun to move production facilities overseas to reduce costs but the Boston company’s choice was different.
New Balance realized that producing sneakers locally would encourage runners to “trust” the company’s products more. But not only, by doing so it would have kept under control every moment of the production, thus raising the quality of every single production step and therefore of the sneakers as a whole. Obviously, this choice had a downside, the final price of the product, it was in fact the first athletic sneaker to cost $100.
Four years after that idea and after four years of research and development, in 1982 New Balance launched the first sneaker of the 99x series, the 990, a plastic representation of the concept of avant-garde and quality in the field of running sneakers.
The innovations that the 990 introduced were incredible, just think of the creation of the upper with the slip-lasting technique, or the “Motion Control Device” on the polyurethane heel.
In the decades since, the 99x series has transformed and innovated the sneaker world, building a timeless legacy and pointing new ways forward in sneakers making.
Here we are in 2001, when New Balance launches the 991, as the predecessor of the 990v2: the first shoe produced by the Boston-based company to have an ABZORB insert in the forefoot and under the heel, thanks to a new and improved midsole design, as well as an aerodynamic toe box and superior comfort, as found in the wider family of performance running models of that period.
Over the course of these 20 years, the 991 has become an absolute must-have for several generations, an icon by definition. Chosen by artists, creatives and prominent people in the industry (and beyond) globally.
A silhouette for anyone who wants to wear a piece of history that, thanks to a timeless aesthetic, is more current than ever.
The M991ANI and W991ANI will be available worldwide starting February 26.
New Balance will be celebrating 20 years of the 991 throughout 2021 with additional colorways, we’re in for an iconic year in the spirit of the 991.