Straight to the top – the history of New Balance

history of New Balance

Sneakers by New Balance are appreciated not only by ordinary users, but also by celebrities. What you may not realise is that before these shoes became Steve Jobs’ favourites, they were basically designed as comfortable footwear for factory workmen. How did they make their way to the top? Explore the history of New Balance!

The origins of the brand

It is said that the founder of  New Balance – William J. Riley – was inspired to name his company the way he did when he saw chickens running about in the yard. He noticed the animals kept their balance on three claws. The entrepreneur modeled the first shoe inserts on the shape of chickens’ three-pronged feet.

William J. Riley registered his company in 1906 in Boston, and immediately started the mass production of his shoe inserts, which made lives easier for factory workers. The workmen used to spend long hours in uncomfortable shoes, so the new invention was a noticeable change for the better. And this is what New Balance did as a company for the next 30 years.

First footwear

The first shoes by New Balance were designed only in 1938. The new model was much more than ordinary footwear for workmen. This time the world saw advanced running shoes made of black kangaroo leather. They were first used by the Brown Bag Harriers from Boston. Three years later the company started providing footwear to baseball and tennis players as well as professional boxers. New Balance designers focused on the constant improvement of their technologies, so as to make running more and more comfortable.

New approach

In fact, New Balance became recognizable only after the death of its owner, in 1956. The new owners focused on scientific research, which was to bring about a revolutionary development in running. The first outcome of the new approach was the model known as Trackster, launched in 1960. It was incredibly lightweight and came in a double size. This was the first time when shoes were labeled not only for their length but also width.

Global growth

Trackster was noticed by a businessman named Jim Davis, who purchased New Balance in 1972 and started the mass production of footwear. His first success was the M320 model, dubbed the best footwear for runners by the “Runner’s World” magazine. It was the first model by this brand with the manufacturer’s logo – the characteristic letter N.

Although the New Balance prices were initially rather low, they soon rocketed. Fortunately, they are now back to the normal level, which means footwear by this brand is generally available. You will find the most interesting models by New Balance on


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