Our third day on the NB 1978 Media Tour was split into two, with both parts being focussed on the Boston area in the form of the Brighton Factory and then the brand new global HQ which was just up the road.
After spending the morning at the factory, we headed up to the HQ passing a NB Outlet on the way where we all got a little excited and probably wanted to stop there before the HQ, but don’t worry, we’d get our chance for an outlet raid!
The HQ is huge, and after walking many many endless corridors, reading various timelines, checking out some special archive pieces, taking in the views of downtown Boston, and enjoying seeing Aberdeen City ranked as number 4 in New Balance Social Mentions over the past year, we broke up for lunch.
During lunch, we were lucky enough to have a chat with Executive Vice President, Global Product, Joe Preston, and he touched on a little about what the future may hold for New Balance.
“We have plans to significantly increase our USA and UK-made production. We see this as bridge product between lifestyle and performance. We use some elements from both and we think that we can bring in a new consumer that we haven’t been able to bring into the brand before. Along the way we will continue to drive authenticity and quality in our classics because the art of those shoes is so timeless.”
New Balance are currently putting a lot more effort into the Lifestyle Apparel side of things, and we were lucky enough to get a look and feel for some upcoming product from Mally Leigh and Andy Lubets of NB Apparel. Keep an eye out for a lot more on the apparel front!
When we left the Global HQ, we took the short walk to the New Balance Global Flagship Store next door for a shopping experience (we’ll have some more on that in a bit), but let’s jump straight to the outlet adventure down the road.
As you may know with outlets, it’s a bit of a hit or a miss, so positioning ourselves as close to the front of the bus as possible, and then proceeding to barge one another back into their seats, we ran into the outlet like a bunch of giddy children, and started raking through the shelves (even the women’s section). Most of us left with some variation of a 99x series, but that’s definitely not a bad thing!
We then headed back to the Global HQ just to take some pictures outside the front with our latest pick-ups, so enjoy those below, as well as a cameo from us both in front of the building, which we’ll put at the end of this post.
This isn’t exactly the last of our NB 1978 Media Tour content, but it is the last official content, so let’s end with a little bit more about what the future may hold for New Balance. Our friend Gary Warnett pulled a few quotes together on this article from various people over the few days in Boston about the direction in which New Balance are moving.
Senior Director of Manufacturing, Brendan Melly, who we met at Norridgewock said, “Craftsmanship and quality continues to be the vision in terms of what we do. But it’s also important that we emphasis innovation and speed too. I think we can do both. We can’t lose that history but we’re also in a very mature market and we’re investing in the Boston area. The vision isn’t necessarily to compete with Asia in terms of numbers but to leverage innovation, whether that’s customization, personalization and things of that nature that differentiate but allow you to evolve.”
Global Design Director, Brad Lacey, said, “We’re looking to build on the 247 concept. We’re also looking to expand on the 574 legacy, also through a modern lens. There’s some historical stuff too – you’ll see some things from the Origins Project that informed it. There’s also a collaboration coming out later this year that’s the missing link in the 574 story. It’s pretty cool. We’ve got some good partners in Japan working on that one too.
There’s definitely a care and a process in the factory that stretches out the timeline. Our own timelines have changed pretty radically even while I’ve been here. It’s one of the toughest things about being a sneaker designer, but even the fastest guys are still nine months away – that’s pretty fast, but it’s not apparel, which is a lot quicker.
Part of my job is to write these mission statements for all categories and one thing we reinforce is that no designer gets to call what they make a future classic. Time will tell and it’s after years go by. It’s our goal and I tell my teams to imagine a designer 20 years down the line. You guys define that!”
AND THAT’S A WRAP!
We’d like to thanks the folks at New Balance for having us in Boston for the event, it was a bit of a dream, and we’re looking forward to seeing what more comes of the NB MADE 1978 and everything else!
Be sure to check out the rest of our content surrounding this trip, and take another look at the first drop of the NB MADE 1978 while you’re at it.