New Balance began in 1906 with William J Riley, who created an arch support with three points of support – these 3 points created greater balance and comfort inside shoes. It is believed that Riley came up with the name “New Balance” by observing chickens in his yard. Chickens, with their three-clawed foot, had perfect balance. Aurthur Hall became the first commissioned salesman in 1927.
The first New Balance running shoe came a little later in 1938. A lightweight kangaroo leather, crepe-soled shoe that was custom-designed for the local Brown Bag Harriers running club in Boston, Mass. By 1941 New Balance was manufacturing custom made shoes for many sports. The Boston Braves wore custom made New Balance shoes under the management of Casey Stengel.
In 1953 Arthur Hall’s daughter and son-in-law, Eleanor and Paul Kidd, purchased the company for $10,000. Under their leadership, New Balance continued to innovate, creating new designs in comfort and performance footwear. The Trackster, introduced in 1960, was the world’s first performance running shoe available in multiple widths. The Trackster embodied performance and style, for its day, featuring a rippled sole for traction and shock absorption. In 1972 Jim Davis completed his purchase of New Balance for a total capital outlay of $100,000, and immediately set out to expand the company by growing the customer base. He is still the owner today.
With the explosion of running popularity in the late 70′s, New Balance released the 320. In 1976, the 320 was rated the #1 running shoe by Runner’s World and featured superior heel and forefoot cushioning, as well as multiple widths. In 1978 New Balance introduced the W320, the 1st running shoe designed exclusively for women. New Balance continued to expand and change the modern running shoe and continues to do so today. The M620 released in 1980 was the lightest running shoe on the market and the first to break the $50 price barrier. In 1982 New Balance released the M990, which debuted as the first athletic shoe priced at $100 and is currently the most enduring technical running series on the market. The current version of this style is the 993. Also in 1982, the first American team successfully made the 21,000 ft ascent of Mount Everest’s North Wall, led by Lou Whittaker wearing the first New Balance hiking boot, the Rainier. New Balance continues t0 lead the industry in performance athletic shoes in every category from walking and running, to tennis and baseball.
Made in USA
New Balance has proudly asked the question…if we can make great athletic shoes in America, why can’t our competition? New Balance is the only major athletic shoe manufacturer still making shoes in the USA, and is committed to domestic manufacturing. 25% of our shoes sold in North America are made or assembled in North America, which is about 7 million pairs of shoes each year. Check out the New Balance styles made in the USA here. New Balance is also an official footwear and apparel provider of the United States Military.
Check out our most recent blog posts about New Balance are here.