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New Balance

Founded in 1906 by British immigrant William Riley, New Balance was originally New Balance Arch Support Company, and as the name implies they sold arch supports instead of creating their own shoes.

Riley got the idea for his three support points arches from a chicken’s foot, and his company mainly marketed their product to workers that were on their feet a lot such as, police officers, firefighters, and factory workers. In 1934 Arthur Hall, a New Balance salesman, became Riley’s business partner, and in 1956 he sold the business to his daughter Eleanor and her husband Paul Kidd.

When 1960 rolled around, Eleanor and Paul Kidd created the “Trackster,” New Balance’s first sneaker. New Balance was the first company to realize not all runners had the same size and shape foot, so the “Trackster” was the first running shoe to come in varying widths. Massachusetts area universities and colleges adopted the sneaker as their team shoe, and soon other colleges around the country did as well, giving New Balance a huge boost.

In 1972 the company was sold to Jim Davis, and around that time the sneaker gained tons of notoriety due to being used extensively in races in the Northeast, such as the Boston Marathon and the NYC Marathon. The brand also gained fame with skaters and skate shops, the brand often does collabs with brands like Premier.

New Balance has been using a different naming system from the competition for decades, and it has been a great success. Instead of some creative naming or calling a shoe by some tech involved, New Balance has been using a number system. While this may make some of the models harder to recall, sneakerheads know which models are the best, the 574, 997, and 998.