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08.05.23

Colour Theory – A Legacy of Grey

Colour Theory – New Balance "Grey Day" 2023 Lead-Up
Colour Theory – Original New Balance 990 [1982]
Colour Theory – Original New Balance 995 [1986]
Colour Theory – Original New Balance 997 [1990]
Colour Theory – Original New Balance 997 [1990]
Colour Theory – Original New Balance 998 [1993]
Colour Theory – Original New Balance 999 [1996]
Colour Theory – Original New Balance 999 [1996]

When it comes to brand building the most effective strategies involve more than just a name and a logo. Hermes has orange, John Deere green and who could mistake the "golden arches”. To create a lasting impact, claiming a colour as one’s own is a surefire way to become a cultural icon.

The sportswear world is not devoid of these instances – adidas has Bluebird, Nike cycles through seasonal colours for product but their boxes are printed with their iconic orange and Salomon’s pinnacle S/Lab range dresses athletes in Fiery Red. That said, there's no colour and brand more tightly intertwined than New Balance and grey.

Initially a practical choice to hide the dirt and grime of city streets, the use of grey suede on New Balance running shoes was a simple matter-of-fact for years. NB hadn’t put much thought into creating a signature, they were more focussed on creating the best running product on the market.

Over time though — thanks in large part to the flagship 990 series — grey would take on a more meaningful role at the brand. When launched in 1982 the 990 came as a shot across the bow of every running company. Famously made with a "no cost considered" budget, the world's first $100 shoe was available in only one colour: grey. Since then, every 990 sneaker has come finished in grey. Sure, NB did start to offer navy, black and sometimes white but the majority come off the Boston production line finished in grey suede. When it launched last year the latest 990v6 was only available in all-grey, with other colours only coming very recently.

Although modern day perceptions are different, for years you'd expect comments of "old man" or "boring grey" shoes when mentioning New Balance to sneaker fans. The seemingly drab appearance of NB preceded any notion of what the brand was making. Real connoisseurs of course knew better than that, to them the lush grey suede uppers were a sign of subdued quality for those in-the-know.

Some 45 years since the 990 first hit the market and set the standard for the atypical New Balance runner, New Balance has come a long way. Seemingly at the peak of its popularity in the lifestyle range, the brand has never forgotten its roots — grey is still the most important colour to New Balance. In this era of special editions and collaboration, grey still reigns supreme at New Balance.

In commemoration of this grey legacy, New Balance celebrates what they call “Grey Day” — a moment in time to reflect and appreciate how far things have come. In over 100 years New Balance has done many things but none longer-lasting than their decision to make grey their colour.

The Grey Day collection – comprising of two seperate collections of MADE in USA and the "Moon Daze" pack – is set to release Friday, May 12th.